Jacob Zuma is a political miracle. In a democracy as strong as that of South Africa with working systems and appropriate checks and balances, Zuma the survivor has managed not to fall.
He has four parliamentary no-confidence votes behind him, a record in its own negative right. He has survived numerous citizen protests, has seen some loyalists in the ruling ANC party even join in clamoring for his removal and yet he still stands.
f anyone doubted that Zuma the survivor is an appropriate nickname for the errant President of South Africa, reports about his handling of a meeting on Monday, May 29, should lay those doubts to rest.
Observers around SA watched while President Zuma addressed his audience, remaining calm and even laughing heartily when his statements allowed. He used the meeting to renew his government’s commitment to addressing SA’s economic inequality. Considering that some of SA’s rich have gotten richer due to Zuma’s actions or inaction, the address was probably a slap in the face for many average South Africans.
What, however, made the entire occasion more fascinating was the fact that the President had been embroiled in another political scandal just over the weekend.
Zuma the survivor had spent the entire weekend fighting for his political life after a trail of emails surfaced, seemingly, pointing to the incredible influence that the Gupta family held over Zuma’s administration.
SA’s Sunday Times published detailed investigations into how the Gupta’s paid for cabinet ministers’ luxury hotel stays to ensure that their companies were awarded lucrative state contracts.
Yet another SA newspaper, the City Press, detailed supposed plans by President Zuma to set up a second home in the United Arab Emirates, with the Guptas’ help.
These investigations were not revelatory in nature but rather confirmed something that South Africans have already gotten enough confirmation for, which is; their President is corrupt and the Gupta’s have had influence over the government.
This time around it was suspected that the email leaks likely came from within the ANC. In the period following, the party held its National Executive Council meeting and senior party member tabled a motion of no-confidence against the President. Zuma the survivor, of course, survived.
Yet another motion of no-confidence (this time in parliament) is planned for later this year. in preparation, opposition parties are asking that the constitutional court allow a secret ballot. The opposition is counting on the veil of secrecy to allow ANC parliamentarians to actually vote their stance without fear of party repercussions.
The public seems less confident of even that measure. They have been don this road so many times and have watched Zuma survive even against overwhelming proof. The public outcry after this recent scandal was severely muted when compared to previous ones and it is possible that South Africans are now resigned to Zuma staying in power until his mandate expires in 2019.