Jacob Zuma’s presidency has taken on a particular flavour. Exposés of capricious political interference in important arms of the state such as the prosecuting authority, the police and the intelligence services have become commonplace: there is little shock factor left in the abuses of power and process committed by his friends in his name; and there is no parallel with any other SA president in the extent to which he has personally benefited from holding office.Less often publicly aired is his devastating impact on the ANC. Under Zuma’s leadership the ANC president has become untouchable, insulated by a national executive committee (NEC) of men and women held in place by networks of patronage nobody dares undo. The senior leadership collective — a key feature of ANC organisational practice since the 1950s — has been relegated to the sidelines. Despite a succession of damaging scandals, Zuma therefore can’t be called to account.The ANC shields him from public and parliamentary accou...

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