Political Watch SA

A dangerous, and promising, week ahead for South Africa

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A dangerous, but also promising, week for South Africa starts this coming Monday with the scheduled vote in parliament on a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

That is, if speaker Baleka Mbete does not, in the meantime, announce that there will be an open vote, as opposed to a secret one – which the Democratic Alliance (DA) indicated will be met with a court challenge. Other opposition parties are likely to join such action and it could see the vote postponed yet again.

However, the DA believes Mbete will postpone the announcement of her decision in this regard to the last possible moment to limit the possibility of court challenges. That in turn brings the danger that parliament on the day, like happened often in recent times, descends into chaos due to disruptive protest action by the likes of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Drama on the streets

The action, and one of the more dangerous elements in the unfolding drama, however, might start on Monday, or if not then, on Tuesday before the parliamentary debate starts.

At least three different marches, for and against president Zuma, are expected to take place in Cape Town next week.

All 12 opposition parties have united to march for Zuma to go on Tuesday. It will begin at the Keizersgracht parking lot from 09:30 and makes its way to Parliament, calling on members of parliament to “do the right thing,” and vote for the no confidence motion.

A half an hour earlier, a march in support of Zuma, (ironically called a march “In defence of democracy”) will start from the Grand Parade. It will also head for the House of Parliament. This march is organised by the ANC’s Dullah Omar (Cape Town) region, a known stronghold of Zuma.

Not only is there the danger of conflict between the two groups, expected to number many thousands of people, but as often happened recently during protest actions against state capture, there is a danger of agents provocateurs coming into play.

It is for example not known if the self-styled ANC veterans, including some pre-struggle day youths, will make their presence felt in the name of their self-assumed role as “defenders of the ANC, its property, and its leaders.”

Law-and-order officials of the South African Police Service and the City of Cape Town will have their work cut out to maintain order and peace on the day. They will also have to be alert to the ever-present danger of opportunistic criminal elements, which often use such occasions to embark on looting and plunder rampages.

Promising signs

There are, however also the signs of positive developments in the building of resistance to state capture and wide-spread corruption.

For one, despite efforts from within the ANC to intimidate them (amongst other with threatening disciplinary action) against them, the list of MPs willing to openly oppose president Zuma and condemn his alleged facilitation of Gupta state capture, is growing.

Even the ANC seems to recognise the groundswell of public resistance, and the list of targets of the claw back against corruption is growing since the dismissal of Eskom’s chief executive, Brain Molefe, and the suspension of the beleaguered state enterprise’s chief financial officer, Anoi Singh, pending a corruption investigation.

Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), including ANC MPs, earlier this week was quite vocal in expressing its displeasure with the performance of a wide range of government departments, ministries, and state entities.

It was also reported that the acting board of the public broadcaster, the SABC, has decided to institute legal proceedings against Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma to recover funds from their generous pensions for losses due to alleged corrupt actions.

Also reported was National Treasury’s recommendation that besides Molefe and Singh, the former acting Eskom boss Matshela Koko, must also be investigated for corruption. The National Prosecuting Authority stated that it is providing prosecutors to assist the Hawks in their investigation into state capture, and Hawks said the cooperation "is working very well."

Another positive sign of a shift in the balance of power in the ANC, away from the Zuma faction, is the indication that the plans for an internal compromise, on the back of granting a costly amnesty to Zuma, has been shot down.

It is also interesting to note that, while several ANC MPs have been named as targets of party disciplinary action, the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, very popular amongst the broad public, has not yet made the disciplinary list.

His unexpected axing by Zuma, which to a large extent, marked the start of the present ANC support crisis, probably convinced the party that public reaction would escalate dramatically if they should attempt further action against him.

In the meantime, under the pressure from a clearly vigorous and healthy civil society, and still demonstrably independent judiciary, the fight against state capture and corruption is picking up momentum, and the net to bring undue benefactors to book, is spreading,

For instance, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA,) on the last day of August, filed an application to intervene in a case aimed at prosecuting those who siphoned off approximately R5.4 billion in dodgy railway contracts, while the tenure of the board PRASA was terminated a few days ago.

Reasons for hope

South Africa is entering a particularly hazardous phase of what can be termed ‘operation fightback.’ The immediate future is fraught with dangers to social and economic stability, which is likely to last until at least the ANC’s elective conference in December – where Mr. Zuma will be replaced, at least as leader of the party.

At worst, it might last until the general elections of 2019, when, as reported elsewhere, there is for the first-time real hope that the ANC’s grip on power could be removed.

Against this broad background one might be able to agree with the view expressed by Alan Hilburg, founder and president of Hilburg Malan and a world leader as crisis communication adviser, in an interview with Alec Hogg of Biznews:

“Africans are not only standing up and speaking up, but I believe they’re beginning to act up…;

“South Africans are not only standing up and speaking up, but I believe they’re beginning to act up…; and

“I think South Africa is going to be the beacon for the next 50 years in Africa, and in the world.”

Also read:  Zuma debate will be a tester for SA democracy

                  It is crunch-time for South Africa on all important fronts

                 Good story to tell: SA can be global inspiration again

by Intelligence Bulletin Team

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