Max du Preez: Zuma’s achilles heels. 2016 – annus maximus horribilis.

Veteran journalist Max du Preez is not one to mince his words. Last year he left the Independent group as a columnist, citing one of the reasons that he found it hard to work alongside the editorial team who were photographed wearing ANC regalia (which the group disputes). This highlights his degree of independence and gives him the freedom to write things as he sees them, which at times lands him in hot butter. In his most recent opinion piece, Du Preez says he’s delighted the national focus is back where it belongs after the ANC’s propaganda machine had succesfully diverted it for a few weeks. And as the focus returns to the President, corruption etc, Du Preez says things aren’t going to get any easier. If President Zuma thought 2015 was tough, 2016 holds a lot more, his annus maximus horribilis. It’s a fascinating piece which looks at Nenegate and how it all somehow filters back to the Guptas, who may turn out to be one of Zuma’s many achilles heels. – Stuart Lowman

By Max du Preez

Max du Preez

Well, at least the national focus is back where it belongs: president Jacob Zuma, corruption, state capturing, nepotism and weak governance.

The ANC’s propaganda machine has been largely successful for a week or three in diverting the discourse solely to race and racism, but the rot in the Union Buildings and Luthuli House is just too odious to ignore for long.

This past Sunday every single Sunday paper carried a story on some or other Zuma scandal.

Every indication is that if 2015 was Zuma’s annus horribilis, 2016 is going to be his annus maximus horribilis.

Even his bodyguards are in trouble at last. This week two of his most loyal pawns appeared in court: advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, deputy head of the National Prosecuting Authority, and former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

Read also: Paul Whelan: 2016 elections – Zuma’s tipping point? Succession concerns.

Jiba is being accused by a senior colleague, Willie Hofmeyr, that she had abused her position to target her personal enemies. Hofmeyr also aims a sideswipe at their boss, NPA head Shaun Abrahams, who has in a very short time proved to be firmly in the Zuma camp.

Mdluli, for many years regarded as super-powerful and untouchable, is facing charges of kidnapping, assault and subverting justice.

The wheel is turning, slowly but surely.

The tide is also turning inside the ANC alliance. This week the revolt around the Gupta family’s extraordinary influence and closeness to Zuma and his loyalists started boiling over, at long last. Zuma isn’t going to get this genie back in the bottle.

The more we know about the disastrous sacking of Nhlanhla Nene as Finance minister in December and the somersaults that followed, the clearer it becomes at least three of the ANC’s Top Six had purposely given Zuma rope to hang himself.

The plan to sack Nene wasn’t a surprise to the senior leaders in Luthuli House. An ANC insider-journalist wrote about it several days before it happened. I saw that and immediately posted a comment on Facebook warning that such a move would shake the very foundations of our economy and put Zuma under extreme pressure.

Read also: Round Two: Zuma ‘No Confidence’ to be debated in Parliament

It is impossible that Cyril Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe, Zweli Mkhize, Baleka Mbete and Jesse Duarte didn’t take note of these reports and comments days before the event. There is no way they did not, like me and many others, foresee the impact it would have on the economy and on the rand.

We also know that Des van Rooyen knew about his appointment days before it was made public – enough time for him to go and recruit senior people elsewhere to work for him at the Treasury. He arrived with these appointees at the office the day after his appointment.

But Ramaphosa, Mkhize and Mantashe remained tjoepstil until after the pawpaw hit the fan, when they promptly forced him to reverse the decision – Zuma’s biggest humiliation since be became president.

Zuma’s strongest support bloc now is the Premier League, a lobby group headed by the premiers of the Free State, Limpopo and Northwest.

There is a strong suspicion that Van Rooyen and the new minister of mineral resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, were candidates pushed by the Premier League.

Actually, the Premier League are so close to the Gupta family that many suspect that these two ministers were Gupta nominees. It is a matter of record that senior Zuma appointments have on occasion learnt about their new jobs from the Guptas and not the presidency.

Zuma’s year is about to become much worse.

He is facing two serious court challenges in the weeks ahead, the one about the money he needs to pay back for Nkandla (Zuma has a plan to pay back the Nkandla money) and the other seeking to reinstate charges of corruption against him.

He also faces the likelihood that his attempt to capture SARS by handing it to his sycophant Tom Moyane is going to be reversed. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will not lose the power struggle with Moyane, a former head of correctional services.

At stake is not only the efficiency and credibility of SARS, but access to the many SARS dossiers with allegations of corruption by Zuma and several of his benefactors and friends.

But first Zuma has to get past the EFF that has promised to disrupt his state of the nation address next week.

If I were a better and more generous human being, I would have said: Good luck, comrade president. – News24

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