Max du Preez
There is no guarantee that South Africa will be in a healthier state this time next year, but one thing is certain: the breathtaking pace of the political fraying and unscrambling we’re experiencing right now will result in a totally different political environment by then.
We ordinary citizens are like spectators at a ferocious ping pong match, our eyes darting from left to right. Who’s playing? Who’s winning? Who’s cheating? What’s the score? What’s at stake?
If I have to put lipstick on the pig, I would say that at least the situation isn’t static; at least we’re not stuck in a rut like some other societies in distress. And I would add that there has never been such a broad, popular surge against corruption in South Africa.
The great unravelling started to pick up pace after the results of the local elections in August.
The ANC’s support declined, they lost control of three big metros and the two main opposition parties grew.
There was consensus that Zuma was mostly to blame, and this weakened his position considerably, even more than after the Constitutional Court found that he had violated the Constitution.
Zuma’s behaviour, like his parading as a victim in Parliament last week, showed that he knew this.
His opponents suddenly became much bolder and his supporters much more on the defensive.
Some Zuma sycophants, like former chief whip Mathole Motshekga, started jumping ship. The SACP and several Cosatu unions openly switched their loyalty to Cyril Ramaphosa.
Virtually every ANC veteran worth his/her salt publicly demanded that Zuma stood down.
South Africans of all colours and persuasions expressed themselves loudly against the Zuma cabal’s dangerous war against finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the national treasury. #HandsOffPravin was trending on Twitter.
Just about the only positive political excitement since August was the promise that the new DA mayors of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay would start governing differently and efficiently, and quickly eradicating corruption and wastage.
Zuma the Survivor’s strategy that had worked for so many years was in tatters. He couldn’t reinvent himself, because he has to rely on the rotten half of the ANC: the corrupt, the rent seekers, the tenderpreneurs and the rural barons.
These elements know very well that without Zuma in power, they face certain political and financial ruin. And they haven’t finished eating.
As fate would have it, other strands also started coming together recently that further weakened Zuma.
Several of his strategically placed lieutenants on whom his survival depends, came under extreme pressure or were swept aside. The dominoes started falling, thanks mostly to a new wave of whistleblowers, the media and to our independent and functioning judiciary.
Tom Moyane, Zuma’s man at SARS, was caught putting pressure on the Hawks to prosecute Gordhan and his former colleagues on highly dubious charges, but ignoring, for many months, the suspected corruption of his own sidekick, Jonas Makwakwa.
The real Tom Moyane was exposed. He will never regain credibility.
Zuma’s trusted pawns at the national prosecuting authority (NPA) that had walked through fire for him and his friends several times, Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mwrebi, were struck off the roll of advocates and can thus not continue at the NPA.
Their boss, Shaun Abrahams, will have to be extremely careful in future or he will walk the same path.
Damage inflicted on our society
Three of the Zuma cabal’s primary victims, Johann van Loggerenberg and Adrian Lackay of SARS and general Johan Booysen of the Hawks, last week exposed, in stunning and convincing detail, the unbelievable corruption and abuse of power in two dynamite books: Rogue – The Inside Story of SARS’s Elite Crime-busting Unit, and Blood On Their Hands – General Johan Booysen Reveals his Truth, written by Jessica Pitchford.
These books can’t be unwritten. They will stand as a serious indictment of what Zuma and his cabal stood for and the serious damage they inflicted on our society.
Only yesterday another Zuma imbongi, the SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng, was refused the right to appeal a damning court finding against him. He will probably play for time and appeal, as they all do, but his goose is cooked.
The credit rating group Moody’s arrived in the country yesterday and the other two agencies are arriving in the next few weeks.
A (likely) downgrade to junk status will be very bad news for our struggling economy and many will blame Zuma’s abuse of state-owned companies and war of attrition against the treasury for this.
Now we wait for the courts to finally order that Zuma be formally charged on 783 counts of corruption, racketeering and fraud.
Perhaps that would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
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