Zuma and his cronies live in alien nation

The out-of-touch ANC leadership faces a repeat of the local government election shock in 2019.

Many ANC leaders appear to live in a parallel universe to the daily reality as perceived by a reasonable person. Furthermore, ANC and government leaders are not behaving, talking and making decisions on a rational basis. In fact, the President Jacob Zuma-led dominant faction are functioning outside the standards of what an ordinary reasonable person would expect.

Unless the party’s leaders get into sync with reasonable citizens, the party is likely to be voted out of power at the 2019 national elections, just as it lost its grip over key metros on August 3 in the local government elections.

Zuma has urged South Africans to “refrain” from public utterances that promote “a negative narrative” about the country, which he argues jeopardise job creation and economic growth.

Reasonable citizens would say that it is Zuma with his scandalous public and private behaviour, appointments of incompetent cronies and swirling allegations of corruption that create “a negative narrative”, which makes local and foreign investors hesitant to invest.

National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams charged Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for fraud for allegedly paying deputy SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Ivan Pillay an early retirement lump sum. Early retirement of senior government civil servants has been done countless times without any criminal charges.

When criticised about this, Abrahams said the “days of disrespecting the decisions of the NPA are over”, the “days of non-accountability and not holding senior government officials accountable are over”.

Yet, for a reasonable person, it is obvious that it is the NPA that is unaccountable, which makes dubious decisions – which includes the charging of Gordhan – and makes equally dubious appointments.

Last month, the North Gauteng High Court ruled to strike deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba and Specialised Commercial Crimes head Lawrence Mrwebi from the roll of advocates after they were found to have acted in bad faith by protecting former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli from prosecution on charges of fraud and corruption.

The General Council of the Bar had initially applied to the high court in Pretoria to have Jiba and Mrwebi struck from the roll following multiple adverse judicial findings against them.

Appointing incompetent, clueless and pliant loyalists to run sophisticated public entities, and then expecting these entities not to fail, not to be loss-making, is again an example of some ANC leaders not behaving rationally.

The SABC board’s appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng to another position at the public broadcaster, awarding him salary increases on top of those already to have been found unlawful, and for people to support Motsoeneng as a “saviour” of the black “cause”, after the courts set aside his appointment as chief operating officer is not rational.

The SABC board had earlier irrationally appointed Motsoeneng as chief operating officer after former public protector Thuli Madonsela recommended he be disciplined for gross irregularities.

Some ANC leaders have accused “forces” backed by Western powers intent on “regime change” for everything from the student campaign to have fees scrapped, Madonsela doing her job to protect ordinary citizens against the abuse by public officials, to local civil society holding government officials account for corruption, waste and indifference.

Instead of recognising that ordinary people – the majority of them ANC supporters or members – are genuinely demanding public leaders to be honest, deliver public services effectively and be accountable.

For rational citizens, corrupt government leaders are among the greatest threat to the country’s stability, development and growth – not critical media, activists or civil groups.

Corrupt leaders, while in public loudly proclaim they are working in the interests of the “people”, will sell the country’s national assets, public funds and policies for self-enrichment – often cheaply – to foreign regimes, whether in the West or the East, which is in fact the real regime change.

Similarly, Zuma and the ANC’s dominant leadership group’s astonishingly denialist, defensive and blame-game strategy to deal with the losses which the party suffered in major centres during the August 3 local government elections is stretching rationality and common sense.

Zuma has continued to defend the ANC’s performance in the local government elections, saying it is not true that people have lost confidence in the governing party.

He said: “What has happened in three metros – there is no party that won, of all the parties that were contesting, there is not a single party that won.”

The dominant ANC leadership group has refused to acknowledge that Zuma and the national executive committee (NEC) are the problem.

The four-day long NEC lekgotla held immediately after the elections accepted “collective” responsibility, rather than putting the president on the spot.

Although they took “collective” responsibility, they did not collectively take the fall for their failures in government.

When concerned ANC members and supporters wanted to embark on a march to Luthuli House, the ANC’s head office in Joburg, under the banner of “Occupy Luthuli House”, to get the message across to the ANC leadership, – demanding president Zuma and the ANC NEC collectively resign – the ANC Youth League claimed the marchers were “sponsored” by “foreign” nationals trying to “destabilise” the country.

However, the reality is that it is Zuma and his cronies who are destabilising the country through irresponsible behaviour, policies and decisions.

Perhaps the Nkandla saga is the biggest example of Zuma and his cronies being in a different world to reasonable people.

The spending of R246 million of taxpayers’ money on Zuma’s private homestead at Nkandla, with the president denying any knowledge of the costs involved; supporters claiming that the uproar over the wastage of public resources is being driven by white racists, “foreigners” and “clever blacks”; and the insistence that ordinary black South Africans should not see any wrong with this are all signs of people living in an alien universe.

Perversely, looting public coffers, running public entities into the ground against sensible strictures, and being dishonest could be deemed to be “rational” for those who are benefiting richly from such appalling acts.

Nevertheless, if the ANC top leadership continues to live in a different world, far removed from the reality of a reasonable person, it is very likely that they will find themselves turfed from office come 2019.

And should that happen, most probably they will still blame ordinary ANC supporters and Western powers for their unfortunate turn of events.

*This article was published in Sunday Independent. To view the article on their website click here

William Gumede is Associate Professor, School of Governance at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is Executive Chairperson of Democracy Works Foundation and former Deputy Editor of The Sowetan newspaper.

During the anti-apartheid struggle, Gumede held several leadership positions in South African student, civics and trade union movements. He was a political violence mediator and area coordinator for the National Peace Committee during the multiparty negotiations for a democratic South Africa and was seconded to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is the author of several number 1 bestsellers. His more recent books include: Restless Nation: Making Sense of Troubled Times (Tafelberg); and South Africa in BRICS – Salvation or Ruination (Tafelberg).

To read publications by William Gumede on our website please click here.

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