Success in politics depends on timing (when reaching for power) and counting (once in office). President Jacob Zuma is a master survivor because he is adept at counting the votes he has — not among the country’s electorate, which does not appoint him, but in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), which does. And in the art and science of patronage, Zuma is a true professional. Many NEC members owe their material lives to him. Nearly a third of all ANC MPs are ministers or deputy ministers, appointed by him. These facts are all but ignored amid the excited speculation about whether Zuma will serve his full term as president of the ANC and the country. In the past few weeks, we’ve had crystal-clear evidence emerge of the alarming extent to which Zuma has allowed his friends, the Guptas, to seize SA’s economic levers. We’ve had revelations in leaked e-mails of how he planned to resettle in Dubai, and we’ve had the country’s churches speak out about the silent coup that has allow...

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