Since Sunday the nation has been holding its breath for an impending cabinet reshuffle by president Jacob Zuma.
Preparing the ground for Zuma to axe his enemies within the party, his surrogates, the ANC Youth League and Women’s League, have been on the warpath, with finance minister Pravin Gordhan as the main target. Youth League president, Collen Maine, went as far as calling Gordhan an “impimpi” that deserved to be “necklaced,”1980s style nogal.
It is now a mystery why Zuma has not reshuffled his cabinet when all reliable sources confirmed he was going to do so at least a week ago. It is almost certain that the president has taken the decision to fire some ministers who have crossed his path in the last few months. Besides the stubborn finance minister, there those ministers who, in November last year, moved an NEC motion to remove him as president of the country. So he knows who needs to be punished. The question is why is he delaying in taking action.
There are several reasons why the president is probably choking on this matter. The first and nightmarish one is that firing high performing ministers may unleash a Tsunami inside and outside the party that may lead to his fall in both party and state, eight months before the party’s next elective conference. Secondly, with factional divisions having reached crisis proportions, rebellion in the ANC caucus in parliament cannot be ruled out; with ANC chief whip in parliament Jackson Mthembu openly supporting Cyril Ramaphosa over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, it is risky as the caucus can easily be turned against the president in a Motion of No Confidence that the opposition parties have been moving without a success several times. Thirdly, he is uncertain how the markets will react to the axing of the popular Gordhan; December 2015 is still fresh in his mind. The Brian Molefe option has been widely criticized and the market consequences are uncertain.
President Zuma is probably facing the most difficult time in his entire political career. and has never been asked to individually take decisions of such magnitude and proportion. His entire presidency, the second term in particular, has been dogged by controversy and scandal. He is currently facing serious corruption charges that the prosecution authority may be forced to re-instate after a decade of battling to squash them. His survival depends on installing a puppet president that he can control beyond his term of office that ends in 2019. He is trying to instal his ex wife Dlamini-Zuma over his deputy Ramaphosa. The Dlamini-Zuma campaign that was launched with fanfare, has stalled and it appears doomed to failure. He has antagonized a large section of the ANC leadership and membership by pronouncing his former wife as the next president of the party. The fact that he is lame duck makes him more vulnerable under the current circumstances. This explains why he is choking instead of striking at his adversaries.
There is another very serious development that is causing the president sleepless nights. His once mean machine, the Premier League, is beginning to crumble. The other faction in the party, the Patriotic Front, led by Ramaphosa, is gaining the upper hand. On Monday Mpumalanga Premier DD Mabuza reprimanded his former confidante Free State Premier Ace Magashule for “using my name to defy ANC rules not to pronounce names at this stage” when Magashule exhorted the Mpumalanga ANC to pronounce Mabuza for the position of Deputy President of the ANC. Mabuza has been distancing himself from the Premier Leaguesince last year, arguing that factional battles towards the 2017 conference would fatally wound the great Movement.
In KZN things are not going well for the president. Since the defeat of Senzo Mchunu as ANC chairperson and his subsequent removal as Premier of the province, nearly half of the ANC branches have taken the party to court to nullify the conference that propelled Sihle Zikalala to power as provincial chairperson and Economic Development MEC. In defiance of Zuma, Zikalala is refusing to pronounce Dlamini-Zuma for president of the ANC for unclear reasons and insists that the time for names lies in the future. This is a serious problem for Jacob Zuma and Dlamini-Zuma as the campaign has virtually stalled and KZN is the only province that cal light the fire. Only a cabinet reshuffle that makes Dlamini-Zuma Minister in cabinet can breath some life into her campaign since she has no official position or resources she requires to intensify her campaign. This makes Zuma’s need to reshuffle more urgent or else Ramaphosa walks into the presidency with little competition.
In a replay of the pre-Polokwane conference, the ANC president has lost the support of key Alliance partners. In anticipation of the axing of its ministers, the SACP has turned against Zuma and of late has openly attacked the president to the extent of SACP ministers threatening to resign en masse should Zuma fire finance minister Gordhan. Cosatu has already nailed its colours to the mast by publicly backing Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma. With the ANC veterans and real MK Commanders( not Kebby’s toy soldiers) behind the Ramaphosa campaign, Zuma has never been so isolated and rejected. A hurried crackdown on his enemies in the party may lead to his eventual fall. This new political situation, properly analysed, explains why president Zuma is choking.
President Jacob Zuma is in a serious dilemma. If he fails to act, his enemies will sense weakness and will become emboldened by the day; if he acts, he might unleash a Tsunami that will surely end his career in the same way that the brilliant career of Thabo Mbeki was ended.
In the meantime, the nation waits.
Source: Sello Lediga