Zuma tempting tax revolt – has his ANC learnt nothing from etolls?

This is how it was supposed to happen: After the usual ANC triumph in the elections – helped by its R1bn campaign spend – President Jacob Zuma would use the mandate to take a firmer grip on power. First order of business was replacing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy Mcebisi Jonas, opening the way for Zuma pals to take charge at Gordhan’s Treasury; and enjoy unrestricted access to trillions in the PIC, which as deputy finmin, Jonas chairs.

But the ANC got a thrashing. So an initially hesitant Zuma called a crisis meeting where, surrounded by acolytes, he got his mandate anyway, triggering this week’s destructive power play that has hammered the Rand.

Zuma is impervious to South African business fretting about a country going back to the “brink of the abyss”. And cares less for respected former finmin Trevor Manuel’s warning that the President’s Putinesque plan has the potential to destroy the economy.

There is, however, one big thing that might turn Zuma’s head – a reminder that countries need to collect taxes to function. Push too hard and history abounds with examples where citizens consciously stop funding the State. Tax revolts are not always grandstanding affairs like a Boston Tea Party. Much more effective are boycotts by the self-righteous. You have to wonder, has Zuma’s ANC learnt nothing from e-tolls?

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