Zuma’s Travails: A Cynical Viewpoint

In a surprising inastute move, the ANC used Jacob Zuma as the face of its Local Government Election campaign – literally its poster boy if you will. If anything, his visage signalled a reason amongst the traditional ANC supporters why they should NOT vote ANC in the Local Government Elections. For the opposition, Zuma was and is the gift that keeps on giving.

 Given this fact, should the opposition not be pleading with the ANC to retain Zuma as President, rather than lambasting them for having such a feckless, fatuous, venal leader who is clearly out of his depth?

Main picture: The frontline against corruption and “state capture” is manned by Pravin Gordhan

Many commentators have made the prescient comment that the ANC in having to defend their leader against the vicious attacks by the opposition in Parliament –albeit justified – did not achieve what was their intentional effect of isolating Zuma from his MPs? Rather, in doing so, the ANC rose as one to protect their leader.

Furthermore as evidenced by the latest actions by the Hawks, Zuma, like a wounded animal, has commenced lashing out at his enemies, real and perceived. The one view postulates that the more that Zuma indiscriminately lashes out, the more the damage to the ANC, and hence, the more the ANC would be eviscerated.

Atul Gupta with Jacob Zuma

Atul Gupta with Jacob Zuma

This process has already commenced. Fortunately, the “centre” has held to some extent in the form of a scathing anti-Zuma tirade by Sipho Pityana, the former foreign affairs Director General, at the funeral of a former Minister & Premier, Makhenkesi Stofile. Pityana’s speech bore all the hallmarks of a traditional political funeral during the Apartheid era at which inflammatory political speeches would be given at the funeral of opponents of the regime. Except that in this case, the recipient of the tongue lashing was none other than the one-noble-now-ignoble ANC

By all accounts, none of the senior ANC officials in attendance countered this rhetoric in their speeches. Maybe officials such as Cyril Ramaphosa did not raise his concerns as vocally as Pityana but what must be more galling for the bull-in-the-china-shop – Jacob Zuma – is that Stofile’s family pleaded with Zuma not to attend the funeral.

Sipho Pityana - former Director General of Foreign Affairs

Sipho Pityana – former Director General of Foreign Affairs

By rights, Zuma should have been in attendance instead of globe-trotting to inconsequential meetings in Kenya, Swaziland and Singapore. In retrospect, it is painfully clear that, like a wounded bull, Zuma has slunk into the bush to lick his wounds.

While the unedifying picture of an ANC imploding in the public space will be a god-sent to the Opposition parties as they gloat about the ANC’s travails, is this situation in South Africa’s best interests.

Clearly not.

Funeral of Makhenkesi Stofile

Funeral of Makhenkesi Stofile

Take the example of the harassment of the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. Clearly, the Hawks in the person of Berning Ntlemeza is using intimidatory and unethical behaviour to cower the Finance Minister in his endeavour to root out corruption.

I am tempting to use the analogue of Hitler when in the death throes of Nazi Germany; he would order Albert Speer to lay waste to Germany rather than capitulate. It is fair to say that the consequences in South Africa’s case are no less apocalyptic with the consequences being a downgrade by the Rating’s Agencies, the plunging value of the Rand and the withholding of vital capital investment. Disturbingly such actions will benefit no-one, least of all South Africans, except for one glaring exception – Jacob Zuma himself.

Samson aka Zuma, the wrecking ball

Samson aka Zuma, the wrecking ball

It is quite conceivable that more Struggle Heroes, like Sipho Pityana, will rise to South Africa’s defence with potentially even Cyril Ramaphosa climbing down off the fence. However, a likely alternative scenario could unfold. In this case, the dramatis personae could be the recipients of the Zupta’s largesse & patronage. Foremost amongst those would be the “Premier League”, the Premiers of the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga who are speculated to be “in the pockets” of the Guptas.

Would all these recipients of ill-gotten gains meekly relinquish the position at the feeding trough?

Definitely not.

In South Africa, the Premier League does NOT relate to soccer but the three provincial Premiers who wield inoidinate power in the ANC

In South Africa, the Premier League does NOT relate to soccer but the three provincial Premiers who wield inordinate power in the ANC. Furthermore they are the conduit for dubious contracts with the Guptas.

They would have to forfeit too much of the extravagant lifestyles, parties and luxury cars.

In doing so, the Opposition would indubitably be benefactors in crumbling ANC support. Widely regarded as a gentleman, Mmusi Maimane would not countenance such as scenario but would Julius Malema – given his background – not stoke the destructive tendencies of the ANC in its death throes?


That being said, there is another option, one in which Zuma realises that the game is up. In a state of mature reflection and having enjoyed the fruits of his reign, Zuma admits his mistakes, resigns and rides happily to a pleasurable retirement, not at Pollsmoor Prison, but to Nkandla.

Will Zuma be forced to substitute Nkandla with Pollsmoor Prison?

Will Zuma be forced to substitute Nkandla with Pollsmoor Prison?

Lest anybody entertain such romantic and fairy tale notions, this option is not even on the table. Firstly there are still 700 odd charges of corruption hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles but, equally as compelling, Zuma, his family and his allies have too much vested in his incumbency as President for them to counsel an alternative solution.

Finally, there is the option of a plea bargain: drop the charges if Jacob resigns.


This option might be morally repugnant but I favour this latter alternative, as collateral damage to South Africa will be minimised.

Unfortunately, for the EFF and DA, a possible resurgent ANC, with its corrupt elements expunged, might find a reinvigorated ANC at the polls in future.

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