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Sat Dec 03 04:26:23 SAST 2016

Zuma will survive a scandal that has badly damaged us

The Times Editorial | 2016-03-18 00:51:42.0

Team Zuma went into overdrive yesterday to contain the fallout of a mounting political crisis triggered by revelations that his close friends the Guptas have been offering Cabinet posts to ANC officials in return for favours.

Declaring that he, and he alone, hired ministers and their deputies, Zuma insisted yesterday that his hands were clean.

Brushing off questions over Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas's admission that the Guptas had offered him the top job in the Treasury, the president told MPs to direct their questions to "the Guptas or Jonas".

Zuma loyalists - and there are many in the ANC - will no doubt accept his version and continue to back their man to the end.

They will do so despite the Waterkloof Air Force Base scandal, the allegations of former MP Vytjie Mentor that the Guptas offered her the public enterprises ministry in 2010 and the fact that the Guptas, who are in business with Zuma's son Duduzane, have made a fortune from state contracts.

Their loyalty to the president, the lynchpin of patronage networks that have served them very well, is unconditional. When he finally does leave the public space, they will insist that he was hard done by.

Because his supporters still hold sway in the ANC, they will beat off any attempts to hold him accountable for a scandal that would cause most democratic governments to fall.

For this reason, Zuma will survive this weekend's meeting of the ANC's executive which will address the scourge of state capture by shadowy business interests that is threatening, in the words of secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, to turn South Africa into a "mafia state".

A judicial commission of inquiry might be launched, the Guptas might be forced onto the defensive, but Zuma will survive.

It will take a major setback in the upcoming local government elections to convince the ANC mainstream to jettison the man who has done South Africa so much harm.

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