There may be chinks in Jacob Zuma’s armour but he is there till December
A series of backpedals by President Jacob Zuma allies in just a week may have shown cracks in the President’s power‚ but analysts say he is firmly entrenched in his position until the ANC elective conference in December.
However‚ what is still to be determined is whether Zuma will influence the ANC to choose a successor from his camp — the premier league — rather than an opposing faction‚ says political analyst Ralph Mathekga.
A number of events in just one week could point to a weakening grip on Zuma’s power.
But political analyst Susan Booysen said in the battle for control of the ANC‚ power swings between sides like a pendulum.
In the past week‚ Zuma-appointed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane backed down in a court case on her recommendation to weaken the Reserve Bank’s powers.
She said she would not oppose the Reserve Bank‚ Parliament and the finance minister’s opposition to her recommendation, and admitted in court papers she could not "instruct" Parliament.
Last week‚ Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa lashed out at the Gupta family and called for an inquiry into state capture‚ while speaking at the SACP’s national congress. This is a fairly unusual move for Ramaphosa, who is not usually openly critical of his boss.
Also last week‚ the controversial new mining charter introduced by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was retracted temporarily even before a court ruling on the matter.
Zwane told the Chamber of Mines in writing that he would not implement it before the court case opposing the charter, brought by the chamber, was heard.
Then the SACP confusingly announced that it would run as a standalone party in the elections‚ while remaining in the alliance with the ANC.
Also Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ head of the ANC Women’s League and a firm supporter of Zuma‚ agreed to a probe into whether she should pay the legal costs of the social grant saga.
Her department was taken to court by nongovernmental organisation Black Sash to ensure that grants would be paid in April‚ after the department had not found a legitimate grant administrator.
But is this culmination of events in one week a weakening of his power or a retreat in a battle?
Booysen said the events could indicate that Zuma’s power base was diminishing but that this was a battle in which the pendulum was constantly swinging between sides. Zuma could be in retreat — retreating and gathering forces to fight back.
Mathekga warned that as the Gupta leaks emerged‚ more and more private companies were being implicated in corruption.
He said if the state capture inquiry called for by Thuli Madonsela when she was public protector was delayed much longer‚ the inquiry would land up focusing on the private sector. While this was essential it could mean the examination of Zuma’s role in state capture could be diluted‚ he warned.