By Prince Kurupati*
Jacob Zuma’s days as the President of South Africa are numbered. The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet today and on top of the agenda is the fate of Zuma. Reports from various quarters including some high-ranking officials suggest that the NEC meeting slated for today will ultimately force Zuma’s hand into submitting a resignation letter. The man expected to ascend to the Presidency for the remainder of Zuma’s term is his deputy and newly elected ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
It really does not matter now whether today’s NEC meeting will mark the last day in office of Jacob Zuma or not because what is clear is that he (Zuma) will not finish his term. What it then means is that he follows in the footsteps of Thabo Mbeki, a former President who also followed the same fate that Zuma is facing today.
It seems it’s becoming a trend in the ANC that a sitting President does not finish his term if an elective congress is held just before the next elections. If unabated this trend will ultimately become a danger to the ANC because either willing and able candidates will shun entering the election race fearing future humiliation or an incumbent will end manipulating the system so that s/he does not end up falling where many others have. Whether the ANC should change the timing of its elective congress or not is a question of another day, today we want to look at some of the possible ramifications of the decision soon to be taken by the NEC and or the Parliament (Vote of no confidence) if the NEC fails to convince Zuma to resign.
Those agitating for a change in personnel in the country’s Presidency suggest that the change in personnel will subsequently lead to a change in how the government runs operate and to some extent will mark a change in government policies. This is not totally unfounded; there is a possibility of positive change coming.
One of the biggest challenges the Zuma administration has faced is that of corruption. The corruption problem took many forms e.g. Nkandla debacle with the most significant being ‘State Capture’. State Capture was a coin termed referring to the Zuma administration, it meant the Zuma administration had become a puppet of one family, the Guptas and that not everything the government was doing was for the best interests of the public, something that is of essence in a democracy but that the government’s aim was to please the Gupta family.
With Ramaphosa coming in, there is a strong feeling that the Government-Gupta relationship will come to an end. That on its own will be a massive score for the majority of South Africans regardless of political party affiliation because they had become so disturbed with the Gupta family.
Ramaphosa as his main campaign message stated the need to make South Africa an industrial hub. In order to do so, he promised to make South Africa a conducive environment for investment thus his aim will be to lure more investors to South Africa. Obviously, this will be a big score for him as that means more employment opportunities for the youth bulge in the country. If he plays his cards right, he can easily, win the youth vote through jobs provision.
From another perspective, the positives above can also be negatives. First of all, pushing away the Gupta family does not necessarily mean no other family or entity can take hostage of the country also. As we have said above, Ramaphosa won the presidential election race in the ANC promising major investments, this is already an ominous sign that any power wielding family or corporation that can take the advantage of giving South Africa the capital injection she wants has the potential to ultimately use that power to influence the country also.
Ramaphosa is seen as more tolerant to White Monopoly Capital (WMC). This is in huge contrast to Jacob Zuma who is pro-Radical Economic Transformation (RET), a concept aimed at empowering the Black majority. WMC ensures more Blacks have employment opportunities (though some would argue that Backs would only feature at the lower hierarchy) but at the same time, it stifles Black start-ups because the environment becomes too competitive and the emerging companies are forced to close shop. This then becomes both a negative and a positive depending on how one takes it.
Blessing in disguise
Whether Ramaphosa’s stay in power as President for the remainder of Zuma’s term becomes a ‘New Era’ or a ‘New Error’, it at least gives the electorate ample time to assess the ANC candidate as he execute executive duties and helps them prepare for life with Ramaphosa at the helm if elected in 2019.