Opinionista Marius Oosthuizen 14 February 2018

Jacob Zuma is a delinquent president who has ignored the ANC leadership, so what now?

When a democratically elected president opts not to resign, he is not breaking the law. When a former ANC president decides not to the leave the highest office, he is not breaking the law. When a cadre of the ANC who has been recalled, decides to ignore the leadership of the party, he is not breaking the law. President Jacob Zuma is not a criminal, not in the legal sense. Not yet. But he is a delinquent president, one who has “failed in his duty”, as the term signifies. He is a PW Botha-style autocrat who has overstayed his welcome.

Jacob Zuma has broken the public trust. He has betrayed the spirit of the law and violated the common good. He has liquidated his legitimacy as a leader. By defying the party now, Zuma is simply extending his long-established delinquency. Think about the gravity of the situation: one man holds the nation at gunpoint, basically saying: “I will use power for myself, my in-group and my narrow and extractive interests.” This was factually and legislatively proven by the Constitutional Court’s finding that he violated the Constitution and betrayed his oath of office. The man is a delinquent and his delinquency is infecting the sacred office of the Presidency. His delinquency is defacing the ANC beyond recognition.

So now that this delinquent has decided to dig in, what should we the people do?

  1. The ANC should revoke his party membership and set a precedent of zero-tolerance to counter his Presidency of zero accountability.
  2. Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, director generals and senior public administrators need to draw a line in the sand and block Msholozi from their WhatsApp group. He is your boss, but a boss who decides to liquidate the country violates your rights and that of millions of citizens who you are elected to serve. This forces you to serve a higher order – serve the public interest, not your political and career interests.
  3. The opposition, united as a single front, should push for his impeachment.
  4. The media should report on the plot and not the drama – a developing hijacking of a constitutional democracy, and do so without fear, favour or sensationalism, as they bravely do.
  5. The security establishment, with their invisible tentacles in intelligence, need to do us all a favour and give us the dirt on the dirty. Our media and courts can take it from there.
  6. The church and faith community need to distinguish between politics and statecraft: the former is a dirty game of power and ambition and the latter a process of building a social contract through the establishment of institutions. As a community, we ought to stay out of the former, but remain deeply engaged in the latter and ensure that justice, fairness, integrity and ethics are upheld. In that vein, we ought to ask the ANC if they are a greedy elitist party enablers or a people’s party of public servants? Depending on their answer, we ought to call for a boycott of all party affiliation.
  7. Academics and institutional leaders have a role to play in articulating the full dysfunction of the decade of Zumania in our politics, the destructive effects on our economy and the effectively criminal disempowerment of the poor as a result. Future generations need to learn from this era and secure an alternative, higher standard from our public sector.
  8. Labour and the SACP need to recognise the historic moment in which the working class find themselves now and how desperately misguided the Zuma-era leadership has been. Labour needs a fair wage, but more than that, needs to see their ranks swell as jobs and employment increase. Poverty is not working-class ambition. Insisting that the “political hyenas” as Zwelinzima Vavi calls them, leave office, is in the interest of every worker.

Jacob Zuma is not the first African leader to flout the rules, but he is the one who is now flouting our rules. How far are we willing to let this guy drag us down? Junk? Or are we willing to call out the tribalists and factionalists who have enabled this guy to thrive at our expense? We are not calling for a criminal overthrow of a democratically elected President. We are calling for the democratic resistance, the pressure and the principle, to turn the keeling ship upright. Future generations will thank us. DM

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