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These are extraordinary times for South Africa’s young democracy. It is once again at a crossroads. The country’s deeply flawed President has been described by the mining nation’s most senior miner as the “sponsor-in-chief” of ever expanding corruption. If anyone has the inside track it is the mining community – the sector where the Guptas, Jacob Zuma’s crony capitalist pals, have been most active. That the Joburg Mining Indaba audience gave Anglogold’s chairman Sipho Pityana a lengthy standing ovation sends a message of its own. Hard on those heels comes news that senior members of Jacob Zuma’s own political party, icons in the struggle to end Apartheid, have gathered themselves into an organisation they call Save South Africa. An organisation whose sole objective is to rid the country of Zuma, its “dishonourable” leader who puts his own interests ahead of the nation’s. The State’s own Auditor General reports billions went missing in the unsanctioned sale of the country’s strategic oil reserves – an indefensible blunder that Zuma’s energy minister keeps trying to defend. On top of this is the release of a blockbuster book, Rogue, which unpacks in detail all the dirty tricks, including media manipulation, employed by Zuma allies at SA Revenue Services where 55 executives have been driven out in 19 months. The aim, clearly, was to end successful SARS investigations into the criminal underworld including the R5bn a year illegal cigarette sector. Next week the outgoing Public Protector will release her report on Zupta-driven State Capture. It promises to add heaps more straws to this particular camel’s back. Plus there’s outspoken opposition from students and the churches. Never before has the pressure on Zuma been so public and so intense. What is the world’s most unpopular President waiting for? A tax revolt? Worse? – Alec Hogg
(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel joined AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s chairman, Sipho Pityana, and other veteran members of the ruling African National Congress in a call for President Jacob Zuma to step down, saying they have “deep concern” over the state of the country.
Save South Africa, whose members also include former Minister of Public Enterprise Barbara Hogan, said it requested an urgent meeting with Zuma on Thursday to discuss his capacity to provide “the leadership that is required to chart a way to stability, economic growth and the rights and promises contained in the Constitution,” the civil society group said in an e-mailed statement.
Zuma, 74, has faced calls to quit since the nation’s top court ruled in March that he violated the constitution by refusing to repay taxpayer money spent on upgrading his private home. He’s spooked investors by sparring with his Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for control of the Treasury, tax collection agency and state companies. He’s also fighting a lawsuit filed by opposition parties aimed at forcing prosecutors to reinstate 783 graft charges against him that were dropped just weeks before he became president in 2009.
“We suggest, Mr President that you have put your personal interests ahead of the national interest, jeopardizing the independence of key institutions and you have consequently lost the confidence of the people of South Africa,”
Save South Africa said in its statement. “The only honorable course of action open to you now is to resign.”
The group is planning a formal launch in coming weeks, it said.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.