In an extraordinary move, President Jacob Zuma offered to pay back some of the money spent on the Nkandla upgrades, and this strategy could be his downfall, especially as Julius Malema steps up the game on corruption. When the public protector issued a statement two years ago urging the president to repay some of the money, the finding was rejected by Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC). The Nkandla issue remains a heated controversy and two political parties have taken the matter to court.
Zuma, together with the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), are due to appear in the Constitutional Court on Feb. 9, 2016, where arguments will be heard. Then, a determination will be made on whether the president has indeed abused taxpayers’ money. The DA said it was not about the money, but rather about the powers of the public protector being recognized. The DA believes that if Zuma settled the matter out of court, the powers of the public protector would remain under debate.
The Nkandla debacle is a shaky matter, and by offering to settle the debt before the court appearance, this proves that Zuma is admitting to the underhandedness of the entire saga. Why did the president and ANC deny any wrongdoing when the Nkandla matter was raised? Zuma declined to comply with the public protector’s recommendations, and a few days before appearing in the highest court of the land, Zuma admits that money must be paid back to the state. Now that both the DA and EFF are rebuffing the proposed solution before appearing in court, things do not look good for the president.
Zuma is portrayed as a weak leader, he is making too many mistakes, and perhaps the Nkandla debacle is the biggest of all. It might not be easy for a corrupt individual, like Zuma, to fall while surrounded by allies that will unconditionally support and guard the president. This time, perhaps the president’s popularity has waned.
EFF President Julius Malema is perhaps opportunistic but he has scored a possible victory with the public, by declaring war on the Guptas, and not backing down on the “Pay Back the Money” slogan. Senior members of the ANC will delight in the latest action as they are too circumspect to challenge the president.
Malema has many issues with the Guptas not only because of corruption but rather on the vast amount of money made from government connections. The Gupta Empire has expanded its control to coal mining, arms deals, television, media, use of state resources, and illegal mining. Malema believes that the Gupta Empire will colonize South Africa and vowed to engage the powerful family on this matter. However, Malema cannot fight corruption, as he is a product of corruption. The war against Zuma is nothing but the fact that Malema no longer benefits from the tap of neverending money.
South Africa continues to fall apart because of people who refuse to remain upright and lead with integrity. As long as a select few continue to benefit from the mess the country is in, the situation will not change. The list of bad governance grows each year and criminal elements continue to increase. The ANC has lost its value, direction, and yet they remain in power for the purpose of opportunists, corruption, and greed. Under ANC leadership, health, education, water, power, and infrastructure have deteriorated, and the economy is in a slump. Furthermore, the ANC has produced millionaires, created opportunities for black business development, and raised social standards for the majority.
The pertinent question is whether the ANC will once again shield the president from another blunder. Under these trying circumstances, the ANC needs to retain its credibility. It is close to election time and all the empty promises, including the Nkandla payback, will have a damaging effect on the political party. Perhaps it is time for Zuma to retire and live happily ever after with the vast amount of stolen resources and his handful of wives. Maybe the Constitutional Court deliberation next week will even send the president to jail.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
Edited by Leigh Haugh
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