Toying With Dictatorship: Zuma’s Exit, By Kọle Ọmọtọṣọ
“If I could be a dictator for just a week, you would see what a wonderful place our country would be.” What put these thoughts in the mind of a man who had been a member of a democratically elected government for 25 years, the last nine years of which he was the president of the governing party and the president of the country?
The elections in South Africa are over. The unelected judiciary has less to do with the final list of elected and failed candidates than in Nigeria. Here judges and senior advocates of Nigeria – SANS – (some of them) are lined up to milk the unsuccessful and the successful candidates for billions. The call by the chief justice of South Africa that elected candidates carry out their responsibilities with communitarian ethics in mind is how far he can go. He was being asked, he said, if he was not ashamed to have to swear in, next Wednesday, members of parliment (MPs) tainted by lying under oath, accusations of corruption and abetters of state capture. His response was that he was not ashamed of carrying out the responsibilities of his position. It was up to the political parties, especially the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), to be ethical in presenting its list of nominations to parliament. The final list of the ANC is the pre-parliament drama in the middle of next week.
While the drama is awaited, it is good to remember that Jacob Zuma mused aloud, a day before he was to face a vote of no confidence by his party, that it would be a good thing if he could be a dictator for one week. He rhapsodised about what a great country South Africa would be if only he could declare a state of emergency, suspend the much-acclaimed clever South African Constitution and rule the country by decree. He would put the clever blacks (middle class Black South Africans who, with white monopoly capital, accuse him of corruption and state capture) in their places – possibly the prisons! Fortunately for him, for South Africa and for Africa, his close circle told him firmly that they could not go along with him. A few hours later on February 14, 2018, he resigned as president of the ANC and president of the country, still insisting that he had done nothing wrong. “If I could be a dictator for just a week, you would see what a wonderful place our country would be.” What put these thoughts in the mind of a man who had been a member of a democratically elected government for 25 years, the last nine years of which he was the president of the governing party and the president of the country?
White monopoly capital did not accumulate its wealth and worth democratically. Zuma and his circle of political supporters see their opportunity in power as their chance to pull through a radical economic transformation that would create a black monopoly capital. In the process, Zuma empowered three brothers of Indian, not South African, origin, in business with his son, to the point of cabinet control. They fleeced the country of billions of rand, which they spent on lavish weddings and Dubai-level life styles. Projects set up to benefit ordinary Black South Africans collapsed because the money went to the Guptas and those beholden to them in the ANC. Banks set up to empower ordinary South Africans were looted systematically by those linked to what became known as the Zuptas of South Africa. RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses supposed to replace the shacks of the slum townships were awarded to people related to ANC power holders beholden to the Zuptas. Many houses built were poorly built to the extent that Archbishop Desmond Tutu joked that they were like the Italian uno Fiat car surprised that people could go inside them! Most were paid for but not built. In this way billions of rands were stolen from the public fiscus.
Once the Zupta malfeasances began to leak into the community through the public protector, the South African council of churches, opposition political parties, whistle-blowers and non-governmental organisations, the Zuptas began to scheme how they would continue to be in charge of what they call radical economic transformation.
What the Zuptas forget is that white monopoly capital was not put together the Zupta way, otherwise it could not have become the global norm that has survived into democratic dispensations. Competent knowledgeable trust-worthy people were put in charge of things and they delivered on their promises. Rules were followed. The greatest good of the greatest number was their principle, until white monopoly capital became the norm around the world. It will work for black people if they follow the rules and deliver on their promises backed by knowledge of what needs to be done.
Once the Zupta malfeasances began to leak into the community through the public protector, the South African council of churches, opposition political parties, whistle-blowers and non-governmental organisations, the Zuptas began to scheme how they would continue to be in charge of what they call radical economic transformation. There would come a time to choose a successor to Jacob Zuma. He puts his ex-wife forward to succeed him. At the Nasrec (Naswreck!) elective conference in December 2018 Dr. (Mrs.) Dlamini-Zuma is narrowly beaten by Cyril Rhamaposa but the elected six top officials are shared equally, three from those who support the Zuptas and three from those who support Ramaphosa, including himself. Herein lies the crisis of the ANC.
The party won the election with a lower percentage of the votes, in fact the lowest votes in twenty-five years of being in power. The integrity committee of the party finds that the chairman of the party, the deputy president (who switched support for Ramaphosa in the last minutes of the voting in Nasrec to be rewarded with the position of deputy) and some six or so ministers, are not fit for parliament and that their names should be taken out of the list of members to be sworn-in next Wednesday. The people thus targeted insist that they have were elected by their branches, the foundation building block of the ANC and its internal democratic process, and no other system can un-select them.
The struggle that saw Zuma resign one year before the end of his term is not over. What is over is the euphoria (ramaphoria! after Ramaphosa) that followed the election of Ramaphosa who was seen as the one to clean up the party. And restore good governance and put an end to corruption. With supporters of Zupta in strategic positions in the party, how will president Ramaphosa keep them out of his government? If they can get into parliament and be in government, it is widely rumoured that Ramaphosa will be deposed as president of the ANC. He will lose his position as president of the country. The country will be restored to the Zuptas who will continue their radical economic transformation.
This is the rumoured future for South Africa. Unless of course the prosecuting authorities that were silenced under the Zupta Regime wake up and begin to take out for investigation and prosecution all those fingered in corruption and criminality.
Kọle Ọmọtọṣọ is professor and dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Ondo State South West Nigeria. He can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org.