Tag Archives: Zuma

South Africa – Jacob Zuma in all his glory


Max du Preez

On Sunday the emperor whipped off the G-string that covered the last of his shame.

And there Jacob Geleyihlekisa Zuma stands in all his naked glory: many of us suspected it, but now we know for sure that he doesn’t see himself as your and my president in the first place, but as the boss of the ANC.

Democracy or not, this is a very big deal. The party is more important than the state, the people.

With that Zuma also implied that if he had to choose between our Constitution and the interests of his party, the Constitution would come second. And there we were, thinking all the time he simply didn’t understand what a constitutional democracy meant.

If you’re not a loyal ANC cadre, you’re a second-class citizen. Using the 2014 election results, that means about four out of 10 South Africans. Comrades come first. Okay, we suspected that, but now it’s official.

Zuma and his lapdogs have now destroyed any argument that disrespecting Zuma was tantamount to disrespecting the highest office in the land. He is, after all, a party politician before he is president.

A call to intolerance

Those who lobby for a withholding or avoidance of tax now have a little bit more legitimacy. We taxpayers will apparently soon have to fork out something like R4bn for a new jet for the ANC leader, they will say, or point out that the ANC leader’s wives cost the taxpayer about R16m per year.

In 50 years’ time, historians will refer to Zuma’s statement on Saturday when they attempt to analyse his term as president.

However outrageous Zuma’s statement was, it wasn’t the most dangerous thing he said at the ANC’s KZN conference. He also declared: “ANC branches must make it impossible for any counter-revolutionary grouping to mobilise our people and lead them astray.”

This is Zuma speaking, and in KZN, so no, he couldn’t have been asking branches to market the party more efficiently. This was a call to intolerance, and we shouldn’t be surprised if some in his audience understood it as a call to strong-arm tactics against opposition parties.

Zuma’s vicious and personal attacks on respected ANC stalwarts Kgalema Motlanthe (Zuma’s predecessor as president, remember?) and Frank Chikane were also a call to intolerance. “Don’t provoke us too far. Don’t,” he warned. “No one is bigger than the ANC. They are cowards. Just an unnecessary irritation. And we may not tolerate this for too long.”

Clearly Zuma is on the warpath. He feels under siege. It means we will see the Real Zuma in the months ahead: the ruthless one that had sharpened his talents as head of the ANC-in-exile’s feared intelligence machinery.

Luthuli House, the domain of secretary general Gwede Mantashe, at first reacted in a respectful and conciliatory statement to Motlanthe’s criticisms of the ANC.

“The ANC wants to affirm Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe as a leader and voice of reason who has always been on the forefront of raising pertinent and thought-provoking questions within the structures of the ANC. He remains a critical opinion maker on how we as the ANC should confront internal challenges on matters that, if unattended, could materialise as future problems. The ANC embraces his forthrightness and willingness to provide leadership beyond formal structures of the organisation.”

Number One used the sjambok

Cosatu, whom Motlanthe had criticised directly, issued a sober statement saying it didn’t agree with him, but added: “The federation still holds the former ANC Deputy President in high regard and we always appreciate his views and opinions. He is one of the sharpest minds and principled leaders to be produced by our revolutionary alliance.”

Then, three days later, Mantashe surfaced with an opinion piece in his own name, directly questioning Motlanthe’s bona fides. “On the one hand you position yourself as an insider-turned-outsider, but at the same time you want to leverage former relationships for personal, political or other gain.”

There can be only one explanation for the radical change of mind within three days: Number One used the sjambok. There was no way that Mantashe didn’t approve that first statement.

Zuma’s new belligerence can mean that he will silence all dissenting voices, neutralise his opponents and ruthlessly govern until 2019.

But it could also be that he is underestimating the resentment in his own party towards him and overestimating his own power, which could mean he will not last longer than the ANC’s elective conference in 2017.

If that happens, hopefully we’ll then get someone that all of us can call our president.

– Follow Max on Twitter.

News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

epresent the views of News24.

South Africa – Gigaba defends Zuma’s “ANC comes first” statement


2015-11-10 18:07

(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Cape Town – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has jumped to President Jacob Zuma’s defence over his “African National Congress comes first” comments at the weekend.

Trying to explain the context, Gigaba told members of Parliament on Tuesday that when Zuma addressed an ANC conference, he was addressing them as the ANC president, not the leader of the country.

“The African National Congress is a liberation movement first and a parliamentary party second.”

Speaking during a parliamentary sitting on Tuesday, Gigaba said Zuma was not wrong in his comments as he was speaking as the president of the ruling party at the time, “a leader of a liberation movement”.

 Zuma told the ANC KwaZulu-Natal elective conference on Saturday that the ruling party came before the country.

“I argued… with someone [once] who said the country comes first and I said as much… that I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first,” he told the conference.

South Africa – Zuma third term comments and idd ANC reaction


ANC clarifies Zuma third term reports

President Jacob Zuma says delegates at the ANC NGC are only preoccupied with policy review and who becomes president is not really an issue. 

President Jacob Zuma says delegates at the ANC NGC are only preoccupied with policy review and who becomes president is not really an issue. (SABC)


GautengMidrandANC NGCJacob Zuma. Mail and GuardianZizi KodwaANCNkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

The African National Congress (ANC) has clarified the “no third term” comment attributed to President Jacob Zuma. The Mail and Guardian earlier quoted the president as saying he would not stand for a third term as ANC leader, even if members begged him to do so. The newspaper approached him on the sidelines of the ANC’s National General Council (NGC) in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.
However, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says the report is mischievous, “ The president was right, nobody can raise that question here. Nobody can confirm or deny his availability at the NGC. That is not a matter of the NGC. The president was saying if anybody was to ask the question here, he will give the answer that he gave. So it is not breaking news. The president was answering in a context that no issues of leadership and succession are dealt with at the NGC.”  
Delegates are only preoccupied with policy review and who becomes president is not really an issue

Earlier, whilst talking to journalists Zuma said was not worried about the ANC’s succession plans.
In what was intended to be a meet-and-greet, Zuma took a few questions from local and international journalists. And when probed, the president said South Africa is a democratic country where anyone can be elected to become President.
He says there is nothing to worry about as “democracy is all about competition.” 
Zuma also says there is no succession discussion at the conference. In the build-up to this gathering, some party structures including the Women’s League was vocal in its call for a woman president with the MK Military Veterans Association having Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its preferred candidate for president in 2017.
President Zuma says delegates are only preoccupied with policy review and who becomes president is not really an issue.  
“There is no worrying debate of succession. We are a democratic party in a democratic country. Democracy means there is competition, it means people have got free choice, they can point at anyone to say this we think is better and the other one might have a different view it is allowed. I don’t know why people get scared when people say we think so and so is better than so and so that’s part of our democratic culture and that’s not an issue in this conference this conference is evaluating how have we fared in terms of implementing our policies and everything. I don’t think that we have heard any delegate talking about succession but we are a democratic country we can debate anything under the sun,” says Zuma.
Zuma is serving his second term as head of the ANC and as President.

South Africa – untangling the twisted webs of corruption and conspiracy while wading through a lake of personal bitterness

Review of R.W. Johnson, How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming Crisis, London: Hurst and Co, 2015.

There is never a dull moment when you read a book or an article by R.W. Johnson.  The language is always pithy, the focus strong, detail well-researched and the conclusions leave you in no doubt as to where he stands – usually in a pulpit of his own construction bellowing his highly personal opinions on whatever subject gripped him.  This time it is Zuma’s and the ANC’s South Africa under the spotlight and he has very deliberately recycled the title of his 1977 book on the future of apartheid – a book not popular with those fighting apartheid because of its stark realism about the entrenched power of apartheid South Africa. For a decade it appeared to be vindicated by the staying power of the National Party, but then it appeared less powerful in its message when, within 13 years of its publication,  a combination of economic, international domestic and military factors led to the historic decision by De Klerk to unban the ANC and start the process of dismantling of apartheid and the political, civil but not necessarily full economic emancipation of the black majority.

The end of apartheid and the reasons behind it are revisited, very selectively. As always with Johnson there is much posturing and the adoption of positions that he then undermines page or two later.  So, on page seven we are told that as a challenge to white power “the Soweto uprising failed completely” – something with which I would disagree as it set radicalised young black South Africans and that many went abroad to join the ANC or became the leaders and foot soldiers of the UDF in the mid-1980s.  But then on page eight we are told “after the Soweto uprising nothing was ever quite the same again domestically” as the temperature “of the entire black resistance movement had risen and stayed at its new level”. Both can’t be right. But you get used to that sort of thing throughout the book.

Much of the book is a detailed – and at times obsessively and monotonously so – account of the webs of corruption, patronage and factionalism that are the core elements of the power in the ANC under Zuma. He rightly pulls no punches in describing the corruption, tenderpreneurship, appointment of incompetent cadres to key jobs and general political corruption of the Zuma ANC and public service – one might point to the promotion to key positions of the likes of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the ANC cats-paw as Chief Operating Officer of SABC ( see pages 113 and 144) or to the endless appointments and sackings of police, intelligence and  the National Prosecuting Authority heads.  Johnson describes the influence, access to contracts and insider information  of businessmen like the Gupta Brothers – now infamous because of the Guptagate scandal over use of an air force base during a family wedding. He unravels the webs of shareholdings, contracts and investments that ties Zuma and other leaders to each other and to powerful business interests.

Zuma’s wheeling and dealing within the ANC, between factions and with traditional leaders and rich entrepreneurs is set out with strong supporting evidence.  It paints a picture of a movement and a president mired in graft and intent on the retention and extension of his power through any means he can get away with.  Cabinets are reshuffled with incredible regularity to ensure he remains at the top of the pile and to punish those deemed to be insufficiently loyal or those who have endangered the political or economic interests of his allies and clients – like the Guptas.  Johnson describes  how, after Zuma’s victory over Mbeki at the Polokwane conference of the ANC, the “party’s great regional barons and mayors” who opposed Mbeki’s more centralised approach had come to the fore – the Mabuzas, the Magashules, Mkhizes and others.  These are the political allies and clients through whom he rules and from whom he gets support and other forms of payback.

Zuma is portrayed as a would-be Zulu King, which is beguiling but far less convincing. He certainly has an extensive Zulu support network and will retire in splendour – if not indicted and coinvicted for corruption when he leaves office – to his Nkandla complex.  But I think the emphasis  on Zulu tribalism driving much of what is happening in the ANC is an exaggeration when you consider the need, which Johnson again details himself, for Zuma to build alliances with leaders in Mpumalanga, Free State, North-West and Northern Cape as well as KwaZulu.  he needs alliances of party barons across South Africa and a crass tribalism based on his Zulu support base would not ensure his power. He is adept at using a variety of means to engender and retain support, and largesse towards leading Zulu powerbrokers and his home province ais among those means.  But tribalism would not win him friends outside the Zulu community and, having used alliance building to defeat and incumbent president, he is too wily to resort to a Zulu supremacism which would alienate four fifths of the population, so for me the argument that Zulu triablism is a driving force doesn’t ring true.

There are seams of gold in the book, but to get to them you have to hack your way through a great deal of  bitter and opinionated dross.  A psychiatrist would have a field day examining the reasoning behind much of the abuse heaped on anyone Johnson dislikes from Archbishop Tutu, who he says as an inveterate headline grabber, to to “vulgar” communist Kgalema Motlanthe, and Rob Davies with his “mechanical rigidity”. People cannot just be criticised for policies, statements and actions but absolutely condemned ad hominem. Much of it is crass, as crass as his baboon comment in the London Review of Books when writing about African migrants in the Cape. One also has to wade through a limitless lake of bitterness about what has happened to South Africa sine 1994 – expressed in pained, personally affronted terms that suggest that Johnson’s vision of a liberal-democratic paradise that awaited the new South Africa has been systematically and deliberately destroyed. It is as though apartheid and its consequences – political, economic, cultural and psychological – never existed or if they did were never quite as bad as they were painted in comparison with the sheer awfulness of Zuma’s South Africa. It is as though the ANC had a clean sheet to start with that they have soiled and ripped.  South Africa has huge problems, is becoming more corrupt and less democratic but it is not beyond redemption and is not worse than it was under the National Party – in myriad ways it is better but there is much that needs to be exposed and fought.

This personal bitterness is mixed  with an unreconstructed Cold War mentality and obsession with communist control of the ANC during the liberation struggle and now.  This is high contested territory, but my view has always been, and is becoming strengthened as time goes on, that  it was the ANC tail that wagged the communist party dog and not the other way round.  The ANC used and benefitted from the organizational, tactical and theoretical skills of the SACP and from the Soviet backing it brought. The SACP gained influence, recruited or coopted ANC leaders into the party, including Mandela, but never gained total control or decisive influence. This is shown by the neo-liberal economic dogma at the heart of ANC economic policy, the unbridled pursuit of personal wealth and the use of instruments like Black Economic Empowerment not to distribute wealth, land and  empower the poor and marginalised black majority but to deracialise wealth and privilege at the top of the class structure – to open up areas of business, public service appointments and wealth accumulation to a new black elite of senior party members and their clients, not to radically restructure the economy along the lines of the Freedom Charter. As the allegedly attention-seeking Desmond Tutu said,  the ANC elite stopped the National Party “gravy train only long enough to get on”.

It is, I stress, a book worth reading for the light it sheds on the development of the networks of power and corruption, the stunning incompetence of government and the threat this poses to any vision of a more equal and democratic South Africa.  But you have to be prepared to shrug off the personal attacks and the bittern disappointment that leaos out from practically every page.


Keith Somerville, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.





South Africa – ANC says media ganging up on it

Mail and Guardian

ANC cadres in government can expect a media training course to help them counter “escalating ideological and political attacks” against the party.

The ANC says the media has been ganging up on the party, and they want to make it compulsory for ANC cadres deployed in government to go on a media training course. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

In its discussion document on the battle of ideas, media transformation and diversity and accelerating digital future released on Monday ahead of its national general council on October 9 to October 12, the ANC expressed its unhappiness with the consistent negative coverage by the media on the party and the government under President Jacob Zuma.

The ANC government has over the past few years come under criticism on a number of issues, including the electricity crisis, the slow pace of economic growth, the killing of striking workers in Marikana by police and the spending of R246-million at Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla.

“The news media has been filled with raging attacks on the nature and character of the movement. Opposition parties who lost the elections have been provided with ample space to question the outlook of the mass democratic movement and substitute with their own visions. There is a ganging up on the ANC and the movement’s representatives by the media analysts, media commentators, the ultra left and ultra-right forces. All the media outlets, including unfortunately the public broadcasting outlets are dominated by the persistent attack on the NDR [National Democratic Revolution],” read the document.

But the ANC insists it has done a lot more positive things, which are deliberately ignored by the media. It want its cadres to tell the good story themselves.

To set the agenda in the national discourse, the party believes all its cadres “must be obligated to attend media coaching and training”. The party complains that its spokespersons remained largely lone voices, as there was no co-ordinated machinery that drew on the collective political and ideological base of the movement.

“As a result, the ANC has failed so far to set the agenda in the national discourse through the limited dialogues on all media platforms. The ANC has not effectively demanded its rightful share of the media space. In many instances the right to reply to baseless attacks have not been followed upon.

It is now usual to hear one-sided discussions, attacking the ANC, in print, radio and television platforms without ANC cadres and spokespersons participating. There is a need for co-ordination of the participation by ANC cadres on the different platforms where the ANC voice is in deficit,” reads the document.

The party is also proposing a review on government policy that mandates placements of advertising on national newspapers, saying this reinforces media monopoly.

“These so called national newspapers are not available in all local municipalities and rural areas. This policy therefore is not reflective of the real media landscape in our country, in terms of national coverage platforms.

To transform the way government communicates, to its citizenry, the party proposes the development of a National Government Communications Policy to provide a framework for communications at different spheres of government.

“The national government communications policy should provide for the use of all official languages and all platforms to reach all citizens”.

The party has reiterated its view that the existing self-regulatory mechanism [Press Ombudsman and Press Council] remained ineffective and that it needed to be strengthened. The document raises concerns about the continuing dominance of the media by the big four namely Naspers, Times media Ltd, Caxton and the Independent Group, which has changed ownership to Sekunjalo.

“The print media is still dominated by four big players. These companies also dominate the entire value chain of the market especially printing, distribution, advertising and research. This integration and the very market structure is perhaps the biggest barrier to market entry and potentially show possible anti-competitive behavior. Other mainstream media players include the M&G Media and TNA media”.

South African Editors Forum [Sanef] chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela said the organisation was humbled by the fact that the governing party was leading a discussion among its members on media issues.

“Whatever the direction or conclusion of the discussion, it should be within the parameters set by the Constitution. We hope there will be due regard to the important role the media plays in society more broadly and in enhancing the quality of our democracy. The quality of our democracy is measured not only in holding regular clean elections and socioeconomic empowerment, but also on how the state respects the media’s right to remain critical without worrying about advertising threats.

“There is a real danger that some threats – whether they materialise or not – could result in financially distressed outlets resorting to journalistic niceties in their coverage. To paraphrase UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, ‘let journalism thrive’. We hope the governing party will assist us in making this call a practical reality. We look forward to the outcome of their debate,” said Mkhabela.

South Africa – Malema says he will see Zuma in court


“Let’s meet you in court,” said Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema at the close of this afternoon’s question-and-answer session with President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. 
Malema got the last word after Zuma, who was asked when he was going to pay back the money for Nkandla, referred to the parliamentary process that is currently under way. 
Although speaker Baleka Mbete had not “recognised Malema”, he stood up and said: “It is very clear that we are never going to get an answer. Let’s meet in court.” 
In his reply, Zuma also answered that the Public Protector’s report had stated that he should instruct the minister of police to determine how much he should pay back for “security upgrades” at his home in Nkandla. 
This was despite the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, pointing out last week that her report did not say this. 
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane corrected Zuma, saying that Madonsela’s report required him to determine, with the treasury’s assistance, how much he should pay back. 
The sitting took place with members of the controversial Parliamentary Protection Services standing guard outside the doors of the National Assembly. A DA member commented that he recornised two of the new recruits – former SAPS members – mostly dressed in white shirts and black pants, from a previous sitting of the house, when the EFF MPs were forcibly removed. 
After Malema asked his question and Zuma said that the parliamentary investigation was still under way, EFF members repeatedly rose for points of order even though Mbete had not recognised them. 
Opposition MPs – especially United Democratic Movement MPs, whose leader Bantu Holomisa was unable to speak due to the constant interjections – became visibly fed up with the EFF’s behaviour.

South Africa – two Nkandla tours but no answers

Mail and Guardian

Both parliamentarians and selected media have now been inside Nkandla, but no group has emerged with answers to the most important questions.

Both tours have to date failed to address Madonsela’s finding that Zuma was guilty overexpenditure on the Nkandla project. (Madelene Cronje, MG)


On Sunday, the gates to the presidential homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal were cracked open just wide enough to admit a small group of journalists to what the presidency considers the publicly-funded areas of the core compound.

The group included no representatives of the Mail & Guardian, nor any from City Press, the two newspapers most responsible for bringing the spending of public money there to public attention since December 2009.

As was the case when MPs were granted access last week – the first access ever granted to anyone not in the employ of the state or a Chapter 9 institution – the official media tour did not include the actual residences of the Zuma family, instead being limited to outside areas and structures built from scratch by the state. Through that omission it neatly avoided problematic features such as the (state-funded) air-conditioning units noted by investigators from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in a report first made public in September 2014.

The media tour also did not include any answer from President Jacob Zuma on burning questions, such as why he initially told public protector Thuli Madonsela he was willing to repay taxpayers for the cost of building a larger cattle kraal (which he requested because the size of his herd had increased) then tacitly recanted.

Both tours – and the ongoing deliberations of Parliament’s ad-hoc committee on Nkandla – have to date failed entirely to address Madonsela’s finding that Zuma was guilty of an ethical breach for failing to protect state money from wild over-expenditure on the Nkandla project. Nor have any of the events and discussions addressed the findings of the SIU that Zuma’s personal architect and his agent in his dealings with the state on Nkandla was responsible for an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money – some of it money diverted from allocations where it would have contributed to regenerating city centres and protect against the disaster of dolomitic sinkholes.

Instead, the tours and deliberations have brought focus on the poor state of repair of state infrastructure in and around Nkandla and the often shoddy workmanship of the initial construction.

For the ANC, apparently hellbent on protecting Zuma from personal liability, this has served to undermine the narrative of comfort and luxury bought for Zuma and his family at state expense, even though the actual living conditions of the family have never been on show.

For the opposition, the Democratic Alliance in particular, the poor construction and upkeep have presented an opportunity to hark back to its primary election message: that the state under the ANC is incapable and wasteful. With Nkandla unlikely to sway voters in upcoming local government elections and with Zuma not in contention in the national elections that will follow, the opposition has shown a distinct liking for this broader criticism of the government, even at the price of turning Zuma into a perceived victim of graft and state ineptitude rather than a recipient of largess.

That leaves only Madonsela’s office insisting that Zuma must take some personal responsibility and make at least token amends and that only through what Madonsela has herself described as soft power, limited to persuasion by public shaming.

And it leaves unaddressed the structural problems of a system in which a President is responsible for policing his own ethics, and where half a decade of state misspending and overspending can pass without any public representatives being held to account.