After a two hour postponement, the ANC finally informed South Africans on its decision regarding President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday. The country had been waiting for the governing party to confirm the inevitable. But after more than a week of political uncertainty – which included the postponement of the State of the Nation Address – some might now be even more confused.
During an hour long press briefing at Luthuli House, secretary general Ace Magashule said Zuma was being asked to step down – not because he did anything wrong – but because the new party leader feels left out. Did not do anything wrong?
The secretary general suggests that not a single ANC president will ever be allowed to complete two terms as state president, because the party is concerned about the two centres of power? Why would a deployee of the governing party – which now has less power within the party – suddenly disobey it? Will the ANC disrupt a democratic process once every ten years purely for the sake of tradition?
The ANC is telling South Africans – should they want a stable democracy headed by a president their preferred party elected, they should never give an ANC president a second term. But this is mostly because the party dreads to admit the obvious.
The ‘centres of power’ narrative is a pathetic excuse – hopefully not believed by a single voter – to avoid answering to its own failures. The real reason behind the recall has to do with perception and association. Cyril Ramaphosa ran for party president on the anti-corruption ticket. How will South Africans perceive the ANC if it is still on friendly terms with the Corrupter in Chief?
The ANC president has been given a small window to demonstrate that his new and united ANC is serious about clean, efficient governance. The reasons for this decision are far more obvious, for two consecutive administrations, the successor was a reaction to the incumbent. If the ANC had enough reason to ask Thabo Mbeki to resign as state president, it has more than enough reason to do the same to Jacob Zuma.
South Africa’s once proud liberation movement failed to act against its president when he was still included in meetings; when he had a strong presence in the National Executive Committee; when they had to confront him face to face.
Now suddenly - in his absence - the ANC is conveniently disrupting South Africa’s democracy. Surely the ANC does not believe South Africans are ignorant to the facts around Zuma and its own shortcomings. Nevertheless this party, much like a proud aristocrat that farted in public, holds its head high and refuses to acknowledge the stench.
Perhaps the ANC should state outright that Zuma should face criminal charges for all the crimes he is accused of. Perhaps it should condemn his indifference to South Africans, and boot him out for his disrespect of our laws, our people and his own party. Perhaps it is time the ANC admits to, and apologises for producing what future leaders might show was South Africa’s worst democratic president.