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Many believe South Africa reached a tipping point when its citizens kicked back after Jacob Zuma fired respected Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on December 9. Despite all the signals, the President and his acolytes think differently, accusing the nation of “over-reacting”. Indeed, the ANC’s deputy Secretary General Jesse Duarte publicly praised Zuma’s decision as “bold leadership”. Confirming a belief the storm has passed, on Christmas Eve the Goverment Gazette carried cabinet approval of Zuma’s hare brained scheme to spend $100bn on nuclear power plants – presumably fueled with uranium from Gupta mines. In its latest edition, prestigious global business magazine The Economist took a close look at what author Alan Paton famously described as “the Beloved Country.” It is a must-read for all South Africans. Zuma has been judged and found wanting. The evidence is conclusive – he is an ineffective, deeply flawed, economically clueless leader who shouldn’t have been let loose on any democracy, much less in Africa’s most complex modern economy. The real question, though, is what will South Africans do about it all when they return from their annual holidays. Will they resuscitate the #Zumamustfall campaign with renewed vigour? Or simply shake their collective head and allow the destruction to continue? – Alec Hogg
By Alec Hogg
South African President Jacob Zuma’s misrule has gone mainstream.
In its Christmas edition, the world’s most prestigious business journal, The Economist which is published out of London, devoted a couple thousand words to the destructive force from Nkandla who threatens to derail South Africa’s democracy.
Headlined “The Hollow State”, the magazine delivers a brutally honest assessment of Zuma’s disastrous management of South Africa, describing him as possessing a “pre-capitalist notion of power….he just can’t understand why he can’t have access to state resources”.
— Karin Richards (@Richards_Karin) December 26, 2015
The lengthy article could hardly reach a more damning conclusion: “The challenge for democrats will be to protect the independence of the courts and what remains of other institutions. Mr Zuma has shown an inclination to wreck them. Unless checked, the danger is when he goes, he will leave only the husk of a democracy behind.”
The Economist’s comprehensive look at South Africa under Zuma was sparked by the events of December 9 when Zuma decided to install backbencher David van Rooyen as Finance Minister in what the magazine describes as “an attempt to capture the Treasury”.
Its millions of influential readers around the world are told:
- South Africa is a country where cronyism and corruption are out of control, causing a “hollowing out” of the State with Government procurement “riddled with graft”.
- The ANC’s disastrous cadre deployment policy within State Owned Enterprises like Eskom, the railways and harbours, has chopped two percentage points a year off annual economic growth.
- As a result of the Zuma Administration’s wanton overspending, the country’s debt has climbed from 26% of GDP in 2008 to almost 50% today – much of it to fund a public service staff complement that risen in size by a quarter in the past decade
- Zuma is also on a mission to use the considerable power of the SA Presidency to destroy the last two bulwarks of democracy – the courts and SA’s “vibrant free Press”.
Confirming what former Oxford don RW Johnson warned in his masterful bestseller How Long Will SA Survive. the magazine says: “Without a change in course further (credit rating) downgrades are likely. The ensuring selloff would probably send interest rates soaring and force the country to ask for an IMF bailout.”
The golden thread running through The Economist’s withering attack is how the very values which the ruling ANC fought so hard to instill after coming to power in 1994, are now being systematically dismantled by Zuma.
Next year is going to be an incredibly politically challenging year for president Zuma and he will have no one to blame but himself.
— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) December 22, 2015
Partly because of what ANC members had suffered, when assuming a Governing role the party “enthusiastically supported” limiting the power of the State. Most importantly, the security forces were overhauled and the Judiciary made subordinate to the Constitutional Court whose primary objective was the protection of human rights.
As a result, the magazine continues, South Africa shamed many more developed democracies with, for instance, abolishing the Death Penalty in 1995 and the next year becoming one of the first nations on earth to legalise gay marriage.
Under Zuma, however, that has all changed where the ANC’s “wariness at untrammeled State power has turned into frustration at checks on it.” The ruling party, it adds, is “undermining the same democratic institutions it fought so hard to establish” – the National Prosecuting Authority and Independent Electoral Commission cited as examples.
The Economist concludes that although the ANC is likely to lose its majority in next May’s municipal elections in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth, “Mr Zuma will probably hang onto power until his second and final term expires in 2019, unless a crisis prompts the ANC to replace him with his able deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.”
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.