Zuma, master of delay, seeks extracting self-interest concessions – Horwitz

JOHANNESBURG — By the time you read this, the situation with President Jacob Zuma may have changed. But one thing that won’t change is Zuma’s personality: a persona that is hell-bent on protecting himself. Even if the ANC resorts to booting him out via a vote of no-confidence, one can expect Zuma to try and extract some kind of deal to protect himself. His time and political capital are running out though. And one thing that is certain is that the Zuma days are coming to a rapid end in South Africa. – Gareth van Zyl

By Errol Horwitz*

If Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC leadership believed Jacob Zuma would quietly hand over the reigns of power, they were sorely mistaken. Their naïveté leaves one gasping for air!

Zuma has been calling the shots, meaning his resignation would only be on terms dictated by him. Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC leadership were engaged in backroom negotiations in the hope of achieving a face-saving outcome. Zuma held the cards when Ramaphosa sat down with them to chart his removal from office. Despite his so-called negotiating skills Ramaphosa failed miserably. Now that Zuma has given the middle finger to the NEC of the ANC his days in office are numbered, either through recall or by a motion of no-confidence.

Zuma calling the shots. More of Zapiro’s brilliant cartoon work available at

Zuma, the master of delay tactics, once again played the delay game in an attempt to extract sought-after self-interest concessions. One thing is abundantly clear in this unfolding political soap opera: The ANC leadership has been running around like a headless chicken frantically busy issuing statements that were essentially meaningless. They found themselves in uncharted waters dealing with a degenerate. Their humiliation will be a cross to bear into the 2019 election.

Zuma’s departure will leave Ramaphosa with the Herculean task of cleaning out the rot within the ANC government. He recently promised in a speech in Limpopo to root out the “rotten apples” within the governing party. A Herculean task indeed – even 100 Nelson Mandelas would consider it a foreboding task!

On the positive side Ramaphosa appears to have located his backbone through a number of pronouncements regarding corruption and the like. Now his talk must be transformed into a walk of reform starting with purging the cabinet of ethically and intellectually challenged good-for-nothings. Besides cabinet members, he must clear out the dead wood that litter government departments, and replace them with those who have a basic understanding of and commitment to public service.

Ramaphosa’s walk of reform must underscore zero tolerance to the looting and plunder of state assets. Those responsible must be vigorously prosecuted starting with the reinstatement of criminal charges against Zuma.

Then there is the plight of the economy. In this respect, Ramaphosa as president, will create political stability and the likelihood of an influx of foreign investment – necessary components for economic growth and the promise of employment for millions of South Africans.


The removal of Zuma has raised the hopes of millions of South Africans for a better and prosperous future. When a country undergoes a national crisis history has an uncanny way of singling out a great leader in times of crisis. One has to look no further than Churchill, Roosevelt and Mandela. Ramaphosa finally fulfils the start of his political destiny as a leader, but will it be in keeping with the qualities of great leadership? For now it’s anybody’s guess, but not for long.

  • Errol Horwitz was a political activist in the 60’s, and returned to South Africa a few years ago, after residing abroad for more than three decades.
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