Bloomberg View: After Zuma’s phyrric victory, here’s why Mandela is weeping

LONDON — Yesterday’s No Confidence debate was summed by the appalling contribution by president Jacob Zuma’s arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa. In his confused mind, Mthethwa regards the attempt to eject his patron as being the work of global imperialists and those wanting to reintroduce apartheid. He claims they are bent on effecting “regime change” through “a coup d’etat” – failing to appreciate that Zuma is not the State, just its rotten head. Desperate stuff from a desperate regime. That Mthethwa is still in Parliament at all – much less a member of cabinet – beggars belief. Leaving aside the Zuma connection, this is the man who was minister of police for the five years to May 2014 and thus ultimately responsible for the Marikana Massacre (five years ago tomorrow). In circles where these things are taken seriously, Mthethwa’s blustering carries the same credibility as those 198 ANC members who chose to ignore all the evidence and despite being given a hard fought secret ballot, gave their tacit approval to the Zupta plunder. Given the documentation their have been provided, these worthies will never be able to plead ignorance on their day of reckoning. History will judge them very harshly. The international community already has: witness the rand graph below and the editorial from Bloomberg. – Alec Hogg

This graph from xe.com shows the Rand’s precipitous fall against the Pound from 17:20 SA time yesterday as the result of the No Confidence secret ballot was announced.

(Bloomberg View) — President Jacob Zuma has survived yet another attempt to oust him, beating back a no-confidence vote in South Africa’s parliament. A Pyrrhic victory for Zuma’s supporters in the ruling African National Congress, the outcome is a clear loss for the rest of the country.

Tuesday’s vote was instigated by the opposition last spring, after Zuma fired his respected finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, causing a plunge in the currency and a downgrade of the country’s credit rating to junk. Gordhan had argued for sensible fiscal policies and against the rampant cronyism in state-owned companies. Under Zuma’s leadership, you can’t do that.

South Africa slipped into recession in the first quarter of this year. Unemployment is at a 14-year high of nearly 28 percent. Business confidence has fallen, the economy is losing competitiveness, and foreign investors are looking elsewhere. Zuma’s response has been to deepen his commitment to divisive and dishonest policies that call for “radical economic transformation” and blame “white monopoly capital” for South Africa’s ills.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, waves during a visit the headquarters of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. at Megawatt Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday, May 6, 2016. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Zuma poll ratings

Voters have begun to see through it all. Last August, they punished the ANC by giving the opposition control of three of South Africa’s biggest urban centers, including Johannesburg and Pretoria. The ANC’s continued support for a leader who lacks the public’s trust — Zuma’s poll ratings have hit all-time lows — seems likely to fuel their anger.

In December, Zuma hopes to hand over the reins as party leader to his ex-wife, and to isolate the ANC’s would-be reformers, before presidential elections in 2019. Rather than engineer this succession, he may in the end trigger his party’s collapse. In view of this week’s vote, it would be hard to deny that the party has it coming — but so turbulent a transition is not what the country needs.

What a waste. Somewhere, Nelson Mandela is weeping.

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