Zuma firmly entrenched till ANC elective conference‚ analysts say

17 July 2017 - 16:51 By Katharine Child
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Nasrec on 30 June 2017.
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Nasrec on 30 June 2017.
Image: Masi Losi

A series of backpedals by President Jacob Zuma allies in just a week may have shown cracks in the president's power‚ but analysts say he is firmly entrenched in his position until the ANC elective conference in December.

However‚ what is still to be determined is whether Zuma will influence the ANC to choose a successor from his camp - the Premier League - rather than opposition‚ said political analyst Ralph Mathekga.

A number of events in just one week could point to a weakening grip on Zuma's power.

But political analyst Susan Booysen said in the battle for control of the ANC‚ power swings between sides like a "pendulum".

In the past week‚ Zuma-appointed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane backed down in a court case on her recommendation to weaken the Reserve Bank’s powers. She said she would not oppose the SA Reserve Bank‚ Parliament and the Finance Minister's opposition to her recommendation and admitted in court papers she could not "instruct" Parliament.

Last week‚ Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa lashed out at the Guptas and called for an inquiry into State Capture‚ while speaking at the SA Communist Party’s 14th national congress. This is a fairly unusual move for Ramaphosa who is not usually openly critical of his boss.

Also last week‚ the controversial new mining charter introduced by Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was retracted temporarily even before a court ruling on the matter.

Zwane told the Chamber of Mines in writing he would not implement it before the court case opposing the charter brought by the chamber is heard. Then the SA Communist Party confusingly announced it would run as a standalone party in the elections‚ while remaining in the alliance with the ANC. Also Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ head of the women's league and a firm supporter of Zuma‚ agreed to a probe into whether she should pay for the legal costs of the social grant saga.

Her department was taken to court by NGO Black Sash to ensure grants could be paid in April‚ after the department had not found a legitimate grant administrator.

But is this culmination of events in one week a weakening of his power or a retreat in a battle?

Booysen said the events could indicate his power base is diminishing but this a battle in which the pendulum is swinging between sides all the time.

Zuma could be in retreat - retreating and gathering forces to fight back.

"She said it was a riveting war."

This is an interesting tally of events‚ she said of the recent week . Perhaps‚ we need to add them and measure them up week by week.

Mathekga warned that as Gupta leaks emerged‚ more and more private companies were being fingered in corruption. He said that if the state capture inquiry called for by Thuli Madonsela when she was public protector was delayed much longer‚ the inquiry would land up focusing on the private sector. While this was essential it could mean the examination of Zuma's role in state capture could be diluted‚ he warned.