Zuma in a tight spot‚ says analyst

25 January 2018 - 16:55 By Penwell Dlamini
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Amid the release of the terms of reference for the inquiry into state capture‚ political analyst Zwelethu Jolobe has provided an insight into the kind of environment faced by President Jacob Zuma as his administration starts wrapping up ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Jolobe said Zuma was no longer the leader of the ruling party and that had serious implications for him.

“He is no longer the leader of the party. This means he doesn’t have an important source of authority. That is gone. The only thing he has is his office. That is all he’s got. Even then‚ his office term comes to an end officially next year.

“At the end of any term‚ any bureaucracy’s general orientation shifts. The issue now is what can we [Zuma’s administration] plan for. What can we wrap up in this year in order to plan for the next administration. This is a period of handover. This is a transition from his administration to the next one. It is no longer about tying to implement things or sign new deals. That period is gone.

“Therefore there isn’t much room for him to manoeuvre at this stage. It’s simply because the term is about to come to an end. Elections are coming next year‚ therefore all his people have to prepare handover notes for the next team that is going to come and take power. In terms of where he sits‚ his room to move is extremely small because his party is now concerned with next year’s elections. All the issues related to that – the manifestos‚ party lists…have to be done‚” Jolobe said.

On Thursday‚ Zuma published the terms of reference for the state capture inquiry‚ paving the way for an investigation into allegations surrounding the controversial Gupta family.

The terms of reference‚ published in the Government Gazette‚ appear to be in line with recommendations made by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

Among others‚ the inquiry will investigate claims made by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former MP Vytjie Mentor that they were offered cabinet positions by members of the Gupta family.

It will also look into allegations of irregularities in the awarding of contracts‚ mining licences and government advertising in the New Age newspaper and any other government services.

Since the ANC conference in December‚ the net has been closing in on people alleged to have had links with the Guptas and those who mismanaged government processes.

This week‚ Parliament grilled former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh and former acting CEO of the power utility Matshela Koko.

This is happening while Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is answering difficult questions on the role she played in the social grants crisis.

She was questioned at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand where an inquiry into her role and liability in the 2017 social grants crisis is being investigated.

Jolobe warned that all these processes‚ in particular the state capture inquiry‚ would have an impact on the ANC.

“The longer all parties who are conflicted or have an interest in this issue delay it‚ the longer they fight the inevitable; the more it becomes an albatross around the neck of the ANC. [The more this happens] the more it diminishes their chances of winning and being strong in next year’s election‚” Jolobe said.