The roar of the waterfall signals Zuma's demise
Publish date: 12 February 2018
Issue Number: 761
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
Despite receiving a mortal wound at the ANC’s elective conference in December, President Jacob Zuma has shown few signs of buckling. However, Legalbrief notes that the tide is clearly turning with a growing consensus that he could be on his last legs. As Zuma’s chaotic presidency grinds to a tumultuous end, his many enemies continue to circle. They include the official opposition DA which warned that the ANC cannot continue to hold South Africa to ransom. ‘Let us get around to voting in Parliament, elect a new president and move on. If (ANC leader) Cyril Ramaphosa can't do it, let Parliament do its job,’ said DA leader Mmusi Maimane. In a day of high drama, opposition parties also agreed that Parliament should be dissolved following a motion of no confidence in Zuma. After the opposition parties represented in Parliament met today (Monday), Maimane said they have resolved that they want the motion of no confidence in Zuma, currently scheduled for 22 February, to be heard this week. A report on the News24 site notes that EFF leader Julius Malema said his party does not want two elite factions from the ANC to nominate a replacement President. ‘Only the masses must decide. To think when Zuma leaves our problems will disappear, that is being disingenuous,’ he said. He said Ramaphosa was among those who defended Zuma. ‘The problem is not Cyril, the problem is not Zuma, the problem is the ANC. They must be voted out. People must given opportunity to vote again,’ he added. With no clear resolution on the cards yet to determine Zuma's fate in the leadership transition within the ANC, the ruling party's deeply divided national executive committee is meeting in Pretoria this afternoon (Monday) to determine his fate. There are unconfirmed reports that Zuma has agreed to step down. Speaking in Cape Town at an event marking Nelson Mandela’s release from prison 28 years ago, Ramaphosa yesterday (Sunday) said discussions with Zuma over his possible resignation were taking place ‘in an orderly manner, in a purposeful manner, in a manner of focusing on the end result’. In an EWN analysis, Stephen Grootes notes that the entire event was choreographed just to remind everyone exactly how close Ramaphosa was to Mandela the moment he came out of prison. ‘As always when it comes to commemorations, the politics of the day decides what in the past is important and why. And yesterday it was important to portray Ramaphosa as the natural successor to Mandela. It is a powerful statement, planned to negate the claim that Ramaphosa was a latecomer to the ANC because he wasn’t in exile. Then there was the sheer number of times Ramaphosa mentioned “corruption” and “Mandela” in the same sentence. The message was obvious. It has been said many times over the last few days that time is running out for Zuma. There surely can’t be much sand left in that hourglass. And he can surely now hear the roar of the waterfall.’
A Sunday Times report says the prospect of a plea bargain is part of an exit package being secretly negotiated between Ramaphosa and Zuma. It says the legal complexities and costs, as well as the fact that SA law does not accommodate political deals for criminal prosecutions, lies behind the delays in the talks and a deferment of Zuma’s resignation. A report on the 702 site notes that there has also been speculation about Zuma turning state witness in order to escape prosecution charges relating to state capture. Bongani Bingwa spoke to James Grant, professor of criminal law at Wits University, to find out if this plea deal is a viable option for the President. Grant said Zuma ‘represents the kingpin and the entire purpose of Section 204 is to allow the state to get a witness who is more of a foot soldier, to assist it where it otherwise doesn't have evidence to go after the kingpin’. He added that ‘it makes no sense to offer the kingpin this immunity’.
According to sources and political observers quoted in a Business Day report, today’s NEC meeting is aimed at confirming Ramaphosa as the new head of state and selecting his deputy, said to be Lindiwe Sisulu. ‘He has agreed to resign. (Monday’s) meeting is to confirm Cyril and his deputy,’ one of the paper’s sources is quoted as saying. Another reportedly said it was common cause that Zuma had agreed to resign; it was just a matter of working out the details. Insiders say Zuma is likely to leave the Union Buildings by the end of the week at the latest, adds the report. Not so, says the Cape Times which quotes Umkhonto we Sizwe sources as saying that Zuma's conditions for his resignation have been rejected. It speculates that the party’s MPs are to be asked to introduce a motion of no confidence in Zuma in Parliament this week. The conditions that Ramaphosa allegedly rejected include: that Zuma take Ramaphosa on a tour to Africa and the world to introduce him to leaders, because he is not known; that Zuma needs three months to wind things up before he can resign; that there should be no reshuffling of the Cabinet and no new appointments of directors-general. Ramaphosa has already briefed the ANC’s top six and received their backing to reject these demands, according to the report. An NEC member who is also an MP reportedly told the newspaper that most members were now prepared to back Zuma’s removal. A City Press report also touched on Zuma’s conditions for stepping down, claiming they included state-guaranteed safety for him and his family, his security being maintained at its current level and for the state to pay his legal fees for current and future matters linked to his tenure in government. The security and legal fees conditions had been described as achievable, it says.
In other developments, the organisers of the #ZumaMustGo protest, aimed at pressuring Zuma to resign, today (Monday) said their members had been intimidated by 'a group of armed thugs'. Hangwi Maumela, convener of the #ZumaMustGo movement, was at Burgers Park in the Pretoria CBD where the 'national shutdown' was supposed to kick off. 'There was a bakkie and a Kombi... that came with firearms,' Maumela said. A report on the IoL site notes that Maumela said the organisers of the march feared for their own safety, and needed more police presence.