Opinionista Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar 7 February 2018

As the Zuma era winds down, let us not forget accountability and justice

We find ourselves in the very position that we all knew was coming. Jacob Zuma may soon be out of office.

It is important that we remember that Jacob Zuma in all his years in power has never been able to do the honourable or right thing. Yet, many are surprised that Zuma would refuse to tender his resignation even though his political home has politely requested that he make way for the transition to South Africa’s sixth administration. Expediency in this transition would be a dangerous thing as it would not facilitate a smooth transition but rather a fractious shift in power in the Union Buildings and would seek to avoid dealing with the more challenging tentacles of that rot and capture.

Zuma has been allowed to position himself, from his days in the Struggle and then in his climb to the highest office, with one outcome in mind – simply to hold power and to use that position for his own agenda. For someone like this, someone so hell-bent on self-interest and enrichment, it is difficult to implore such a person to do the right thing. The African National Congress, under its new leadership, is mindful only now that Zuma comes with excessive baggage – and baggage that is explosive, toxic and also unstable. In 2005, Zuma was offered the option of resignation by then president Thabo Mbeki, and we all remember that Zuma had to be removed from that position because he would not accede to the notion that he had done anything wrong or that he had anything to account for or that he needed to do the right thing.

South Africans are crippled under the weight of inequality, poverty and unemployment. However, these are not issues that the Zuma administration has been prepared to tackle or confront. The indulgent ideological trap of collective leadership has convinced those in the African National Congress that, first, they could do nothing to arrest the decline of the Zuma years, and second, that simply forcing Zuma’s hand will in many ways release them from their original sin.

Such ideas should not be entertained. There was a great deal that many people could have done to prevent the rot and state capture that we have witnessed during the Zuma years. There were many opportunities for many people to stand up and speak out against the rot. Instead, South Africans had to endure the rise of State Capture and the farcical presentation of a fire pool. South Africans should not allow that the transition be simplified and reduced in such a way that accountability and justice are forgotten. Jacob Zuma has a case to answer, as do many other South Africans, including certain Cabinet ministers, for the role that they played, actively or passively, in allowing South Africans to lose a decade of opportunity and possibility.

It is clear that the African National Congress must wrestle with Zuma and secure his resignation or removal from the Union Buildings in order to affirm the message of renewal that it has been pushing under its banner of unity. On Tuesday afternoon, Parliament’s office bearers may have assisted by providing space and time to allow the ANC’s National Executive Committee to make a decision.

It is quite evident that the decision to postpone the 2018 State of the Nation address was not done in the interest of serving the Republic or the requests by the opposition parties but rather to allow space for the governing party to figure out how to deal with the Mafiosi-in-Chief that has refused the request by the Top Six, as mandated by the ANC’s NEC and National Working Committee, to resign from the Presidency.

The postponement of the 2018 State of the Nation address was essential. A postponement that was very strongly argued for by the Democratic Alliance, the Economic Freedom Fighters and other opposition parties. Zuma must be relieved of his duties and office urgently. The urgency to facilitate the departure of Zuma is motivated by the shift of political power within the governing party and the upcoming national elections. If the Republic was prioritised, then the impeachment or removal of Zuma from office would have happened much earlier. Zuma has besmirched the office of president and has actively participated in a grand criminal conspiracy to hijack our constitutional democracy.

We should remember that that the apparent renewal and shifts within the ANC should not distract us from the work that needs to take place in order to deal with the malfeasance and criminality that has been perfected during these Zuma years. This is not the time for false hope or expediency. We have to be vigilant as political parties prepare their 2019 messaging and ground game. In this current climate, it makes sense that political parties will squabble over who is responsible for the postponement of the 2018 SONA. South Africans must prepare themselves for this type of expediency, campaigning and false hope that will be peddled as our political parties prepare for the 2019 national and provincial elections.

The manoeuvrings within the ANC and the refusal by Zuma to do the right thing highlights, once again, the fractures of our own constitutional democracy. The very fractures that allowed the Zuma-led ANC, the leagues and its alliance partners to force the resignation of Mbeki from the Union Buildings in 2008. In the ideological fog, the ANC has forgotten who Zuma is and is still labouring under the mistaken belief that it has deployed Zuma to the office of the Presidency and as such Zuma should accept their instructions.

Yet, 10 years later, the governing party again finds itself in the predicament of having to find a mechanism to remove its deployee. A deployee who is likely to refuse the direction of the ANC NEC as it deliberates on Wednesday, which will result in the ANC then possibly having to direct its caucus in Parliament to take constitutional measures to remove the president.

We must not forget that there is some expediency at play within the governing party. The Republic and its citizens have been mistreated, deceived and have long been forgotten by those in the governing party. The political climate has shifted dramatically, and this has necessitated the need for the ANC to respond differently.

With much relief, we can rely on the fact that the Zuma years will soon be behind us. However, South Africans must not forget what has happened. We must not forget that many people, some of those apparently being “good people”, allowed all of this to take place. We will have to continue our vigilance and be prepared to fight if we are going to ensure that justice and accountability are embedded in this transition and in the years ahead. DM


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