THERE was a time, a few months ago, when we all thought the sinister drive to constructively dismiss Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was finally defeated and buried.
After all, Gordhan had managed to gather a team of prominent South African business leaders and others for a roadshow to various world capitals assuring the markets that all would be fine, that South Africa was in firm, responsible, hands – well, sort of – and that we would not make political and economic decisions that would result in rating agencies downgrading us.
Prior to that, and following the equally sinister removal of his respected predecessor – the four-day Umkhontho we Sizwe finance minister Des van Rooyen doesn’t count here – our country was staring down at a possible economic precipice. But local markets and all of us sighed in relief when Gordhan and his team succeeded in convincing the rating agencies to give us a bit more time to get our act together.
Now that Gordhan has given in to pressure to let Dudu Myeni continue what she does best at South African Airways – I hope the new board members are men and women of steel as required – let us hope that Gordhan will be given the space to also do what he does best for South Africa; this, however, is unlikely.
The clock is ticking for post-electoral Zuma
Now, with the elections having come and gone and in their aftermath, Helen Zille’s prediction of a looming era of political coalitions having been proven right, much seems to be at stake for many who failed to see it coming.
Shielded by the veil of “collective responsibility”, Zuma can still continue like he has over the past number of years, brandishing his middle finger at us and hoping for the best. With the right cronies still running the levers of public information, propaganda and manipulation (SABC), public prosecutions (NPA) and specialised crime intelligence (the Hawks), he can still go home every night or keep flying all over the world in expensive private jets leased from the-ones-whose-family-name-we-shall-no-longer-mention, knowing that no one can touch him.
But 2019 is not as far as it appears; time is running out, and so are Zuma’s options. I do not see how the constitution of the Republic of South Africa would be changed to ensure that he stays in power and, crucially, in control. Having tasted the sweet aroma of the power that lies in their vote, it is unlikely that the now wide-awake South African voters will return to slumber land. And this is a good thing.
Zuma’s only hope remains in winning one of the final battles of his hugely problematic presidency – one that history will never forget – that of ensuring that he effectively influences the election of his successor, whenever that will happen and whoever that will be.
He will not say it, of course, but I can bet that his biggest fear is to end up with another Thuli Madonsela, a Mogoeng Mogoeng, or another potentially great South African mistaken upon appointment for a controllable idiot. We have enough of those already occupying influential positions they should be kicked out of as a matter of urgency, as soon as this country gets led by people of integrity who will put its constitution and democratic institutions ahead of personal interests and political party.
In the meantime, despite the ongoing skirmishes in and around it, the ruling party has managed or, so it seems, to keep doing what it does best: to keep going on as if it doesn’t hear the cries for change, even when the noises increasingly come from within its hitherto impenetrable walls.
The elections have come and gone and the next ratings outcome is still several months away. It is not an urgency. Some leaders seem to believe that the people will forget, or that they will simply tire of the endless criticism against the party and its president – much of it well meant – and buy into the nonsense that those who criticise are agents of outside forces who want regime change in South Africa to benefit the West.
The rest of us should remain vigilant for the sake of the country we love, not because we hate anyone or wish them harm. We should keep connecting the dots because, in their apparent haste and increasing desperation to take as much as they can before the final return of their political Jesus, they will make many mistakes.