South Africa Watch

ANC & DA have SA on tender hooks

Mkhwebana confusion

South Africa is at the beginning of a dismal path and if its problems with state capture and corruption is not handled correctly it could take up to 15 years before the country’s recovery starts.

This was the assessment of former Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan earlier this week at the launch of a booklet dealing with corruption and state capture issues at Eskom.

The assessment of the man who’s firing from cabinet in March signalled the final build-up to a crisis situation for South Africa’s democratic order, came in a week in which the country’s political scene slipped significantly closer to chaos. It is all making for an extremely confusing situation.

Not only are dark clouds rising over the run-up to the governing African National Congress’ (ANC) December elective conference, but the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) finds itself in some precarious situations.

On the same day that the DA announced a process to force Public Protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office in the wake of claims in court that she colluded with President Jacob Zuma’s legal advisor and the State Security Agency in an attack on the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the PP supported the DA in another court application against the president.

The DA’s application seeks a court order compelling Mr Zuma to establish a commission of inquiry on state capture, as was recommended by former PP Thuli Madonsela. This comes in reaction to Mr. Zuma taking Madonsela’s recommendations on review, and has been pending for 11 months now.

Her council argued that special recommendation made by Madonsela, that the commission of inquiry be headed by a judge appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, and not by Zuma, was toavoids a potential conflict of interest. He also argued against review applications delaying the implementation of recommendations.

This seems to be at odds with the DA’s argument in the SARB case that the current PP does not operate in an impartial manner but rather seems to take her orders from the Union Buildings.

While Mkhwebane might be out of her depth in the PP-office, it also illustrates the impossible position the present political situation places Chapter 9 institutions.

Illustrating how the Zuma administration is using the review to delay the process of dealing with the issue of state capture, as laid bare by Madonsela, Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen dodged questions on the matter in parliament, saying the commission of enquiry would deal with it.

He said those who have evidence must go to the commission of inquiry to give evidence. However, the commission does not exist 10 months after the deadline set for it by the PP.

But, while the SARB-case is on-going, the DA is probably jumping the gun by starting procedures against Mkhwebane based on a single affidavit and before the other side of the story has been heard. They are leaving themselves wide open for accusations of opportunism, and the danger of ending up with egg on the face.

ANC and DA in trouble

In the meantime, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling that the 2015 elective conference at which ANC KZN leaders were elected was unlawful, has cast a long shadow over the national elective conference scheduled for December. 

There are fears within the ANC that the elective conference could collapse or have its outcome challenged in court if the current ANC leaders in KZN run the nomination processes. This might just be the start of a protracted battle through litigation and the possibility of a split-up of the ANC looks like strengthening by the day.

In a hard-hitting interview with the BCC former President Kgalema Motlanthe said the ANC might lose the 2019 election, adding to the impression of a party falling apart. 

If that happens, with a strong contender from within the existing ANC emerging, the DA in danger of losing its pole position to lead the challenge to the ANC. And, it is not doing its image as the leader of coalition forces any good with what is happening with coalition governments at local government level.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa this week demanded an apology from the DA for its handling of former Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) deputy-mayor, Mongameli Bobani’s axing. The demand came in a letter to DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.

The NMB situation is also impacting on other local government coalitions, including Jo’burg and Tswane, where the Economic Freedom Fighters are boycotting meetings in sympathy with the UDM.

Over-all picture

In an article for BizNews, managing consultant and senior economist at Econometrix, Rob Jeffrey, writes that the future GDP growth in South Africa is set to be pedestrian at best with the potential of serious recession, increasing poverty and political instability hovering like a dark cloud on a not too distant horizon.

He warns that South Africa is standing on the brink of a Brazilian or Chavez Venezuelan style decline.

It is clear that a tough and confusing time lies ahead of South Africa in which it is facing a protracted period of perpetual ‘election fever,’ because whatever happens at the ANC elective conference in December – if it happens – expect, from all political quarters, for the campaigning for election 2019 to go in full swing.

by Intelligende Bulletin Team

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