By Jonathan Asikason
THE 2016 South Africa’s Presidential State of Nation Address, an event that usually opens the country’s Parliament for the new political year, was disrupted by the protest staged by the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF)—a splinter party led by former or, let’s use the right word , dismissed ANC youth League leader, Julius Sello Malema.
When President Jacob Zuma mounted the dais to address the parliamentarians on that very occasion, parliamentarians of EFF hue shouted him down with the phrases ” Zupta must fall” and “Pay back the money.”
By ” Pay back the money,” they are referring to Nkandlagate in which President Zuma used the country’s taxpayers money to build his private residence. And by “Zupta” they are satirizing the unwholesome relationship between the Jacob Zuma led ANC government and Guptas, the Indian South African family. The relationship that is today dubbed “State Capture ” in the country’s political lexicon.
For one to really understand the meaning and the extent of “State capture in the country’s politics, an explanation from the vociferous Julius Malema will suffice:
“Guptas are the new colonialist. South Africa is under their management and Jacob Zuma is just the colonial administrator.”
Gupta family, it might interest you to know, migrated to South Africa in 1993 shortly before the fall of the obnoxious apartheid regimes and established many business interests — ranging from energy to media publications — there.
But their colonialization of South African politics and government began in a family function at Sahara Estate in 2003 in which the then Vice-president Jacob Zuma was invited. Ever since then, the family has established a shady alliance with the Zumas. Guptas were Zuma’s backbone during the great power struggle that saw to the latter’s removal as vice-president and subsequent fall of Thabo Mbeki.
But political trials, Nigerians will tell you, is turn by turn. Zuma of today has his face smashed in the sand— though not in the same vein with the Rooseveltian “man in the arena ” for he was caught up in the webs of his own machinations and need not to be cried for or pitied!
“What happened to party discipline?” Was the question many analysts were asking when the news that ANC has sacked Thabo Mbeki became public. They were surprised that Zuma( although he feigned ignorance)and his supporters couldn’t allow the former to retire with honour since he had barely seven months to complete his tenure of office. But they disgraced Mbeki and he resigned.
Now, the same stick that was used for the old wife has been used for the new wife now that she is old. Standing between the preponderance of evidence of corruption and lure of power, Cyril Ramaphosa, who defeated Zuma’s ex wife to clinch the leadership of ANC couldn’t wait to allow his master who never supported his presidential ambition to finish his tenure.
Zuma’s fall from grace exposes the high wire politics, seismic rife and the power struggle that has characterized the African oldest party and why the umbrella of the rainbow coalition is leaking. I think Julius Malema was right when he said that ANC is killing the South African dream.
It is really telling as to how a man that has once been likened to a cat outlive his nine lives. In 2005, Jacob Zuma was charged with raping a family friend and got acquitted in 2006. Again in 2005, he was Charged with corruption over multi-billion dollar 1999 arms deal. The charges were dropped shortly before he becomes president in 2009. In 2016, court orders he should be charged with 18 counts of corruption over the deal but he appealed it. In the same 2016, court ruled that he breached his oath of office by using government money to upgrade his private home in Nkandla , he later repaid the money. In 2017, the public prosecutor pointed the importance of setting an independent judge-led inquiry into allegations that President Zuma profitered from relationship with wealthy Gupta family – he denied the allegations, as have the Guptas. The inquiry is still in the process. In all these, he survived eight votes of no confidence. His political damnation put credence to the Yiddish proverb that if a man is destined to be drowned he will be drown even in a spoonful of water.
As South Africans rejoice on the success of Zexit and the making of President Ramaphosa let them always have it in mind that democracy is not spectators’ game.
Asikason Jonathan, wrote from Enugwu-ukwu, Anambra state.