EDITORIAL: Looters’ days are numbered as ANC nears event horizon
Zuma’s and the Guptas’ space to loot and steal is narrowing by the day as the taps are slowly and steadily switched off
Oddly, there are several positive consequences that flow from the ANC’s weekend decision to yet again affirm its faith in the leadership of Jacob Zuma. The biggest and most obvious is that it will boost the waning of the ANC, which is fast becoming a rotting carcass within SA’s body politic. Once great and noble, the ANC has reached a point of no return. It cannot save itself as a political force nor will it be able to save itself at the polls in 2019 and thereafter.
Although it means we have at least another six months of the Zuma presidency – he could very well be replaced after the ANC’s December conference – there is no need to despair any longer about the damage he is doing to SA.
Zuma’s and the Guptas’ space to loot and steal is narrowing by the day as the taps are slowly and steadily switched off.
First came the South African Broadcasting Corporation. With Hlaudi Motsoeneng out and acting CE James Aguma suspended, their proxies have lost much of their power. The interim board at the broadcaster is also looking into all aspects of procurement that took place under the direction of these two key officials. The broadcaster has also run out of money, which is not an insignificant problem for those who have grown fat on it.
Now there is Eskom. Brian Molefe will have to go; his political protection has been withdrawn and the ANC national executive committee is unanimous he has to go. His second-in-command in the state capture project, Matshela Koko, is on suspension with evidence against him so damning that not even the highest office in the land can save him.
Eskom board members and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown will soon face the same scrutiny as the broadcaster’s board and its minister who were grilled by angry members of Parliament live on television. Some have already fled the board; others are facing sanction in other areas of their lives.
At Denel, too, the taps are being turned off. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has clearly judged it too risky to support the company’s Asian adventure with Gupta associate Salim Essa. It is also running out of cash and opportunities to direct procurement are diminishing.
At South African Airways, there is considerable rot. Although the entity has some new board members who want to see corruption stopped, the real First Lady of SA, Zuma’s long-standing friend Dudu Myeni, is still on the board. There is no indication from the new board that it is looking into procurement issues as aggressively as it should be.
The looters still have high hopes for the Central Energy Fund and its subsidiaries. However, the new minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has energetically started restructuring, sending PetroSA to the Department of Mineral Resources and putting her own director-general in charge of the recently looted Strategic Fuel Fund.
But these opportunities are also not that attractive anymore. PetroSA will probably need a bailout and only the Strategic Fuel Fund, which sits on a cash pile (after illegally selling the fuel stock) has resources that could be looted.
Add to this the Guptas’ failed attempt to buy Habib Bank, which ground to a halt at the end of May when their application expired, and life is no longer that rosy for the Zuptas.
There are, however, still big fights to be had. A key one will be the battle for control of the Financial Intelligence Centre, which Zuma wants to shift from the Treasury into the security cluster. The fights over the police and prosecuting services are still intense and undecided. The Treasury itself is going to come under immense pressure.
But generally, SA’s institutions are working, albeit in fits and starts, and ground is being regained by those opposed to SA’s slide into corruption and nepotism.