The ANC must choose truth over alternatives to break Zuma spell

07 January 2018 - 00:00 By ranjeni munusamy

In an interview with Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba last year, I asked him how South Africans should contend with President Jacob Zuma in line with Christian teaching. He laughed out loud. Christianity teaches that “the truth shall set you free”, he said, and South Africans should hold light and truth in front of the president.
I do not think that works with Zuma, frankly.
The year 2017 saw many truths being unleashed, including through the Gupta e-mails, damning court judgments, the revelations in Jacques Pauw’s The President’s Keepers and reports on state capture by the South African Council of Churches and a group of academics.
Zuma did not so much as flinch.
The president has his own truths — among them that he is a “political genius”, that he is a “very honest politician”, that he was poisoned multiple times and survived, that “foreign forces” are plotting against him and the ANC, that state capture is a fallacy and that the markets naturally bob up and down with no relation to his reckless manoeuvres.
Zuma also believes he has performed rather well as president and says there is nothing he would have done differently during his time as ANC leader.“I can’t remember a big thing that I can say: ‘I’ve made a mistake,’” Zuma said in an interview with the SABC in mid-December.
This is in spite of him making an “apology” to the nation after the Constitutional Court found that he had violated the constitution on the Nkandla matter.
It is with this mindset that Zuma is bracing for a fight to keep his job as president as the sands shift in the ANC.
The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president and a new national executive committee last month has raised expectations that the party will finally act to remove the country’s president from office.
Recalling Zuma will not be the surgical strike people assume it will be.
The divided NEC means that, unlike with Thabo Mbeki in 2008, there will be a fightback from Zuma’s supporters to either allow him to serve out his term or have a managed and gradual exit that will minimise his embarrassment.
Because the ANC was so integrally involved in protecting Zuma from sanction and affirming his “alternative facts”, the president’s defenders in the NEC will argue that he cannot be held individually responsible for the trail of destruction behind him.There is some truth to this as the previous NEC took “collective responsibility ” for the ANC’s decline in the 2016 elections and excused Zuma after the constitutional breach and his deliberate sabotaging of the economy with his finance minister juggling acts.
The ANC took no action on state capture, and the previous NEC canned an internal investigation led by the secretary-general’s office when damning evidence, including against Zuma, was presented.
So Ramaphosa’s camp will have to build the case for Zuma’s departure based on the current situation.Several people in Zuma’s cabinet would have to go at the same time if the executive is to have any credibility — but some of the most appalling ministers, such as Mosebenzi Zwane, Bathabile Dlamini and Faith Muthambi, were elected to the new NEC and will therefore resist attempts to dislodge Zuma.
A massive salvage mission must be launched in state-owned enterprises and government departments that are under the Gupta hex.
Those with vested interests in the state-capture project or who fear their dirty laundry being exposed will try to frustrate this.
There are some in the new ANC leadership, Ramaphosa included, who have an eye on the economy and know there needs to be immediate and intensive work done to rebuild investor confidence and begin the crawl back from junk status...

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