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At some point, even one’s strongest supporters throw in the towel. That day is hastened when your only defence against criticism relies only on creating further discord. That is the reality of what President Jacob Zuma’s supporters face after a call from yet another powerful civil society body, the foundation bearing the name of the national icon. The moonlight flit to Dubai by Zuma’s business partners is a strong message that the President’s already shaky grip on power has been broken. At Biznews we have maintained all along that the ANC brains trust knows full well Zuma is past his sell-by date. We believe they will eventually do the right thing and recall SA’s deeply compromised leader. But the Top Six refuse to be pushed into dumping the party’s second successive elected leader, fearing this result in another split in a movement already weakened by the defection of organised labour. So the ANC has been at pains to enact the lengthy process of first collecting evidence and then presenting this to the membership. That approach is high risk in a networked nation where the ANC’s aged 60-plus Top Six clearly have no conception of the way social media is transforming politics. The sooner they absorb this reality, the quicker they will move to stem the haemorrhage. The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s call for an “urgent” meeting, detailed in the report below, is certain to hasten the inevitable. – Alec Hogg
(Bloomberg) — The board of trustees of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s charitable foundation is seeking an urgent meeting with the governing African National Congress after the country’s highest court found President Jacob Zuma violated the country’s constitution.
Calls for Zuma, 73, to step down by ANC veterans, church and civil-society organizations and business leaders have intensified since the Constitutional Court ruled on March 31 that the president “failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution.”
Board members want to discuss the “groundswell of public discontent in the wake of the Constitutional Court’s recent ruling,” the Johannesburg-based foundation said in an e-mailed statement on Saturday. “The board welcomed the ruling. Democracy’s lifeblood is institutions promoting social justice without fear or favour, across the entire social, public sphere. Protecting this lifeblood is at the heart of Nelson Mandela’s legacy.”
Opposition to Zuma has spread since December when he fired his respected finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, sparking a selloff of the rand and the nation’s bonds. The Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma violated the constitution for failing to repay taxpayers’ money spent on his private home, a scandal that has further dented confidence in an administration that’s struggling to revive a stagnating economy and cut a 25 percent unemployment rate.
While Zuma said he acted in good faith and the ANC’s top leaders and lawmakers rallied behind him to defeat an impeachment motion in parliament, hundreds of party members are refusing to tow the line and are demanding that he resign or be fired.
Those who have called on him to resign include former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel; Dennis Goldberg, who stood trial with Mandela; Ben Turok, who once headed the ANC’s ethics committee, and Cheryl Carolus, the ANC’s ex-deputy secretary-general who has served as South Africa’s high commissioner to London.
The foundation’s board said it was also of the view that South Africa has deep-rooted systemic problems that need to receive sustained public attention.
“Our country’s crisis of leadership is not restricted to the summits of power,” the foundation said. “We need good, accountable leadership.”