IRR: Nkandla judgment overstated – Zuma exit an 18-month affair

Media statement from the Institute of Race Relations

The political importance of the Nkandla judgement has been overstated. The ANC will not permit external critics to determine who its leader is. This is somewhat understandable.

File photo: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma places his hand to his chest before the State of the Nation address at the opening session of Parliament in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mies Hutchings
File photo: South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma places his hand to his chest before the State of the Nation address at the opening session of Parliament in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mies Hutchings

Our considered view is that the Zuma exit is likely to be a far more orderly and less dramatic departure – staged over the next 18 months – than the sudden once off announcement some analysts anticipated for this evening.

Read also: Moeletsi Mbeki: Zuma won’t fall – he will serve out full term until 2019

Our strong sense is that Mr Zuma will step-down shortly after the ANC’s December 2017 conference. This may open the way for a then relatively united ANC to contest the 2019 election on a possibly reformist platform. We are also of the view that analysts are reading too much into Mr Zuma’s future as a proxy for SA’s future.

Read also: Daniel Silke: ANC factions deeper than Zuma, to manage ‘safe’ exit

The crises confronting SA extend very much beyond Mr Zuma and have their origins in events that pre-date his coming to office. These crises are essentially economic in nature and will require reforms to labour, empowerment and property rights policy to address.

It is moves in these three areas that will have a more definitive impact on South Africa’s future than whether Mr Zuma remains in office for the next 18 or so months.

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