Editor’s Note: It’s not quite the tragic farce that the world endlessly witnessed in Zimbabwe under Mugabe. But Jacob Zuma is certainly giving the old codger a run for his money. Perhaps what makes the South African debacle more distressing is the legacy that he represents. A legacy that owes so much not just to the people of South Africa and the centuries of suffering that finally triumphed with the election of his illustrious predecessor, Nelson Mandela, but also the solidarity of many progressive forces throughout humanity who protested and campaigned to end apartheid.
We all expected better than Zuma. And the people of South Africa are entitled to his removal for he has long lost the majority’s respect and support.
Yet, like Mugabe, he is determined to hold onto power until he considers it strategically in his personal interests to go. Indeed, he even has designs on crafting a Zuma political dynasty.
On Sunday evening, February 4, the ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa, as part of the ANC’s ‘Top Six’, met with President Jacob Zuma. It is reported they asked him to resign before SONA – the State Of the Nation Address. He refused.
Reports are surfacing that Zuma also defied the wishes of the ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) who instructed the top six to ask Zuma to resign last week. With the State of The Nation Address (SONA) now just days away, Ramaphosa is faced with his first critical dilemma as party president.
Other reports suggest that Zuma attended the meeting with a list of demands that included not being prosecuted. The top six reportedly refused this condition.
The South African on-line website has considered how the ANC might show Zuma the door, now that he has refused the demands of its top brass. They offer three possible scenarios:
One Last Zuma SONA:
It is believed that Zuma is more open to stepping down before his term ends, he just wants to deliver SONA first. Whether Zuma wants it as a farewell or not, allowing him to speak and therefore allowing opposition attacks in Parliament, will undo much of the global “rebuilding” Ramaphosa and others did at the WEF.
Gwede Mantashe said this weekend that the ANC was starting to regain the people’s trust, allowing Zuma to speak will move the party 3 steps back for the one they took forward in December.
The ANC still has time to convene an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting before SONA. This meeting would just have Zuma’s recall on the agenda. If the NEC agrees, it will basically instruct Zuma to resign instead of merely asking him.
Legally, a party recall would not obligate Zuma to resign, if he still wanted to refuse, he could.
This could take a variety of forms, the party could go through the embarrassment of supporting the opposition-tabled motion of no-confidence scheduled for February 22. Or, it could table its own motion in Parliament.
This option is the least desirable for the ANC as any motion would remove Zuma and his entire cabinet. The move will also be used heavily against the party by the opposition.
This coming week will be critical and riveting as Zuma continues his attempt to defy the pull of gravity. Thankfully we know from history that this too shall pass.
Until then, let us pray that the hope that South Africa offered to the world might be renewed and that the vision of a Rainbow Nation, in which all its citizens are equally valued and respected, will come to fruition.