It is Zuma - not his removal - that is a nuclear bomb

07 August 2017 - 06:02 By The Times Editorial
President Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma

There are few things as bizarre as the ANC's chief whip trying to equate the removal of a sitting president to the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Jackson Mthembu's words on Friday may have been a last-ditch effort from the ruling party to dissuade unruly members from voting alongside the opposition in a motion of no confidence meant to unseat Zuma.

"Our decision to vote against this motion must therefore not be seen as defending or protecting any individual," Mthembu said.

His words betray a realisation by the ANC that the wheels have thoroughly come off, the wagon is being dragged though the streets with Zuma clutching the side and a string of party members holding tightly to his coat tails.

Mthembu's words also show the party is done with Zuma, but wants to break up with him on their terms instead of being dictated to by the opposition.

However, instead of worrying about the message that siding with the opposition will send, ANC MPs should consider the message that allowing Zuma to finish his term will send.

Mthembu's nuclear bomb scenario involves South Africa struggling to recover from the collapse of government, the sudden creation of a new cabinet and another ANC leader being nominated as president.

The good news is that this is not uncharted territory - we've survived a number of sudden changes to government and the unexpected removal of a sitting president before.

Zuma has already shown himself to be a masterful trigger master, placing small yet tactical bombs under major institutions and within the party itself.

He has displayed the capacity to go nuclear himself, laying waste to all who oppose him while shoring up his position.

What Mthembu and the party should concern themselves with is what will remain of the country beyond Zuma's term.