South Africa

Letter to the Editor: The price of Jacob Zuma’s presidency will be felt for a long time

Instead of working towards an early election, taking action on a number of issues will help South Africa along the road to recovery. By FUTURESA.

Future South Africa welcomes the decision of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) to recall President Jacob Zuma from office. We call on the ANC to ensure that Zuma abides by this resolution and, if necessary, is removed from office by a vote of no confidence before the end of this week.

We hope that the end of Zuma’s era will be the start of a “clean-up campaign” to halt endemic corruption and state capture and restore the constitutional vision of social justice, equality and sovereignty of the state.

We believe the decision to recall Zuma is the culmination of a long campaign led by South Africans from all walks of life – civil society organisations, faith leaders, trade unions, business, coalitions, members of the opposition, ANC members opposed to corruption, whistleblowers, honest public servants, the media who have exposed state capture and ordinary people. They took the fight to the streets, the courts and to Parliament. In doing so, they defended the Constitution against the brazen plundering of the state under Zuma’s administration. We, the people, made it impossible for the ANC to keep Zuma as their president. Now it’s time for the final push to remove him through a motion of no confidence.

We recognise, however, that these are extraordinary times and that each day Zuma continues to serve in the highest office of the land is a danger to society. More South Africans have fallen to greater levels of poverty because of his government’s actions. Some of his ministers are alleged to have not only stolen from the people, but have also threatened the provision of social grants to millions of people. Zuma’s cronies treat state-owned companies as their personal toys. State institutions only serve as Zuma’s protection racket and can no longer serve their lawful purpose. Monies meant to reduce poverty are diverted to fund wedding extravaganzas. Every South African now knows that Zuma doesn’t even select his ministers – they are appointed by the Gupta family.

We welcome this belated action by the ANC NEC but we demand that the ANC and the soon-to-be president, Cyril Ramaphosa, go much further.

In particular we demand:

  • The immediate removal of all cabinet members who have been directly implicated in the state capture project, in particular Malusi Gigaba, David Mahlobo, Mosebenzi Zwane, Lynne Brown, Ben Martins and Des van Rooyen.
  • The immediate removal of Bathabile Dlamini, who has imperilled the provision of social grants.
  • That the Zondo commission into state capture be provided with the necessary resources to complete its work in time. Furthermore, the ANC must ensure that none of its members impedes its work. No minister should be allowed to use state funds to bring frivolous legal actions against it.
  • That the parliamentary inquiries into state capture at Eskom, Transnet, Denel and other state-owned companies continue.
  • The government should act urgently to restore operations at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, rectify its governance and prosecute those who are suspected of crimes against it.
  • The immediate appointment of competent women and men to head state-owned companies and other key state institutions.
  • The government should act immediately on recommendations made by Judge Dikgang Moseneke when he published his award in the Life Esidimeni arbitration. Furthermore, the government must implement the recommendations of the Farlam Commission for the recompense of the victims of the Marikana massacre without further delay.
  • The national and provincial government must act to alleviate the water crisis in the Western Cape immediately without any regard for partisan considerations.
  • The government must take urgent measures to revive the economy.
  • The state must commit to building trust, peace and social cohesion and ward off those who try to create division based on race or ethnicity.

This is an uncertain and anxious time for our country. We know that at times like this there will be people who will attempt to loot the state by forcing through unlawful contracts and payments. We therefore call on public servants – especially the guardians of the public purse, chief financial officers, directors-general, internal auditors and others – to resist artificial emergency funding, special exemptions and improper payments.

The people who have paid the greatest price for corruption and state capture have been the poor. They have suffered through rising unemployment and failing public services, especially in health and education. The horrible fate of the Life Esidimeni 144 or of Michael Komape, the five-year old who drowned in a school pit-toilet, are testimony to that. We demand apologies for their deaths by the president and a promise that this will never happen again.

Similar tragedies happen every day. These crimes are the result of the diversion of resources away from the poor and into the pockets of the rich. They are evidence of a culture of impunity and contempt of poor peoples rights that has crept into the government and the ANC. This culture must be repudiated and punished whenever it rears its head.

We note the call by the opposition parties for the dissolution of Parliament and an early general election. It is a legitimate call to make in these circumstances. However, we believe our demands can form a national, non-partisan programme of action to attend to South Africa’s immediate crises. Early elections are not the priority of civil society at this stage.

Our country faces a number of serious crises that are costing people their lives and dignity on a daily basis and demand urgent and united action. These include:

  • The drought and water shortages in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and other parts of the country.
  • The crisis in our education system.
  • The crisis of rape and gender-based violence faced by women and girls, and the failure of the criminal justice system to prosecute offenders.

Instead of working towards an early election, we call on political parties to finish the urgent business of Parliament that is vital to a free and fair election, including:

  • Passing new regulations on openness of party political funding.
  • Completing the procedures for impeachment of a sitting president.
  • Mobilising for voter registration and education ahead of the 2019 election. This campaign should in particular reach young people.

Zuma may soon be history, but the price of his presidency will be our debt for a long time. This is not a time to be complacent, but to be more vigilant and stronger in our actions and demands for a state with integrity. DM

FutureSA is a politically non-partisan coalition of civil society organisations that aims to end state capture. The coalition was formed following a conference of some 600 people representing 130 organisations from around the country, who gathered to take a stand against state capture on Mandela Day (18 July 2017) at the Rhema Bible Church in Gauteng.

Our patrons include: Albertina Luthuli, Bonang Mohale, Adrian Enthoven, Bruce Fordyce, Cas Coovadia, Dennis George, Ela Gandhi, Giet Khoza, Kumi Naidoo, Lebo Ramafoko, Popo Molefe, Prema Naidoo, Shauket Fakie, Sheila Sisulu, Sipho Pityana, Wayne Duvenage, Zac Yakoob and Zwelinzima Vavi.