The Jacob Zuma Dilemma and the options for the ANC

Posted by Ben Hadley on 2018-02-14 14:51:00 | Views: 12 |

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The Jacob Zuma Dilemma and the options for the ANC

The highest decision-making body in the African National Congress (ANC), the National Executive Committee (NEC) has exercised its authority and has recalled its member and current state president Jacob Zuma. Ordinarily if we are to follow the precedent set in the Thabo Mbeki case, he is meant to acknowledge this recall by way of a resignation as state presidency. This has not happened. The nations await in limbo, meetings abound both in the ruling party and in the opposition in a bid to address the issue of the president who will not go, except on his own terms.
Understanding Jacob Zuma
What will a man facing an excess of 780 criminal charges do in a similar situation? Jacob Zumba wants to stage manage his exit, he wants to make sure that life after the immunity currently afforded to him as state president, falls away is reasonably comfortable. Under the state constitution, Jacob Zuma has not broken any laws. He still has more than a year left of his presidency. In his view, he believes he should be afforded a transitional window that is not rushed, hence his request to resign in 3-6 months.

The NEC recall, its implications

The NEC under the ANC constitution is empowered to recall one of its own, but it can't enforce the recall, that is the limitation. It can only appeal to the understanding of the individual recalled to respect the ethos of the ANC and do the 'honourable thing'. In the case of Jacob Zuma, outside him standing down voluntarily, the NEC can't enforce his recall as a party without going through a parliamentary process. The president is elected by parliament. Only parliament can recall a state president. This now takes us into impeachment territory, something the ANC have always opposed when brought to parliament by opposition party, the Economic Freedom fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Vote of no confidence

There is a new proposal for a vote of no confidence scheduled to be debated in parliament on the 22nd of February. Previous bids to impeach Jacob Zuma did not succeed because the ANC opposed them. It will now be interesting how they will respond to this particular one. It may represent their only option in removing Jacob Zuma in the absence of a voluntary resignation. But the ANC has a problem. If they support the impeachment route, it means they are now accepting that Jacob Zuma has done wrong and has not discharged his mandate well as state president. The acceptance of this may have far reaching negative implications for the ANC. These may include but not limited to loosing the 2019 election, a split within the ANC as the no confidence vote on Zuma may translate into a no confidence vote on the ANC.

Zuma/Mbeki exits, the difference

Thabo Mbeki attempted to run for a third term as ANC president. This was very unpopular and the ANC coalesced around removing him as both ANC president and state president. He resigned upon realising that the party had taken a stand. He had no reason to fear the consequences of leaving office. It is the complete opposition for 'msholozi' (Jacob Zuma), that is what makes him more adamant. When Thabo Mbeki stood down, he had less that seven months left of his term. Zuma has almost two years left of his term. He has every constitutional justification for defying the ANC recall until his term expires in 2019. This takes us back to impeachment territory and its possible implications for the ANC outlined above.

The South African Constitutional quagmire

It is fair to say that the constitution of the ANC following Polokwane is now at variance with the national constitution. The precedent set by the ANC when they recalled Thabo Mbeki is now custom. It will continue to play out in the ANC until the party takes the necessary steps to bring the expiry of the ANC presidency to be in line with that of the state presidency. The two centres of power that are created after an ANC congress will continue to present a challenge for the foreseeable future. If Jacob Zuma who is the state president refuses to resign, it then follows that theoretically he will continue to be at Union buildings as president of South Africa backed by the state constitution and Cyril Ramaphosa at Luthuli House as the president of the ANC until 2019.

It is important to state that the two centre of power scenario has only arisen twice in the history of South Africa, firstly in the transition from Thabo Mbeki to Cyril Ramaphosa. We now see it again between Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. What is interesting to note is that we did not witness this when power transitioned from Nelson Mandela to Thabo Mbeki. I believe personality does a play a role in how human beings yield power.The temperament and disposition of the leaders do go a long way in determining how power is wielded. In the absence of an amicable solution to the smooth transition of power, Jacob Zuma will survive the rest of his term on executive powers whilst the contradictions within the ANC will play out producing visible cracks that will most definitely be exploited by radical political parties like the EFF who are flanking the ANC with a bid to win power. Ultimately, this contradiction that exists in ANC politics whereby the party presidency is changed far ahead of the expiry of the state presidential term will be its undoing.

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