The second chapter of South Africa’s Zuma-saga seems to have gone into production.
With the present lead character, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, to vacate centre stage sometime over the next 18 months or so, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is being fast phased into the lead role.
Some of the details are sure to be different, although she is already cast with the trimmings of a presidential air, like a presidential travel escort – blue lights and all – with a security detail from the official presidential guard.
But, some of the underlying themes and trends seems destined to remain familiar, as implied in the above trimmings – suggesting the miss- or irregular use of state resources with which she is delivering her very own first public scandal and a possible investigation by the Public Protector.
Soon after embarking on a public campaign, almost immediately after returning from her posting at the African Union, to capture the presidency of the African National Congress (ANC) at the end of the year, and by implication also the presidency of the country, it is becoming clear that the political- themes and slogans from the first instalment of the “Zuma Saga” is to remain in place.
There was a swipe from her at white monopoly capital, and one report has it that ”Dlamini-Zuma, in a long and informal talk at a Cadres’ Forum in Sasolburg, Free State, …. said the ANC was not properly in control of the economy yet, and admitted that the party was ‘losing the battle of ideas’.
“She estimated that the ANC only had 20% of the power available in South Africa, because the economy was the other 80%, and this was not being controlled by the ANC.” (Note, she said “ANC” and not “government,” implying there is no distinction between the two.)
Then, there was a also an explicit playing of the race card by accusing former so-called Model C (white) schools teaching children to “hate” the ANC.
Ironically, according to former ANC MP and ANC whistle blower Vytjie Mentor, Dlamini-Zuma’s own “billionaire kids went to those schools.”
The school comment might also be feeding into to the ANC factionalism, that has become a hallmark of the Zuma saga, with some commentators interpreting it as an attack on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga,
There are also clear signs that the “capture” of state institutions responsible for state security, to serve private and narrow party political aims, are to continue in the next chapter of the Zuma sage.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) has been sucked into the controversy about Dlamini-Zuma’s VIP protection with claims that it was triggered by a robbery attempt at a hotel where she stayed. An incident, about which the SAPS says it knows nothing.
According to a report by The Sunday Independent, a senior police official told the paper: “Our state security agency (SASSA) has dismally failed to disclose its threat analysis on Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, always hiding behind the notion of secret information.”
A “highly placed source” said the SAPS “think” an incident at a Johannesburg boutique hotel where Dlamini-Zuma stayed – in which “at least” four heavily armed criminals allegedly tried to enter, security guards running away and a case opened at the Norwood police station – was the reason for the special protection arrangements.
However, police spokesperson, Lieutenant Kay Makhubela told The Sunday Independent he had no idea at all about the alleged incident, adding that the police didn’t have a case number.
A security guard manning the gate at the property also said Dlamini Zuma was “a frequent visitor”, but he knew nothing of the alleged incident.
“Another guy came here asking questions about whether there were some gunshots fired around this vicinity. There is nothing like that,” he said.
And, a receptionist at the hotel said they were not aware of the alleged incident.
The days of smoke and mirrors and cloak and daggers seems firmly set to continue in next episode of the “Zuma Saga” – or “The Zuma Saga Two.”
Be it what it may, taxpayer’s money is being used to extend privileges to the aspiring presidential candidate beyond what she was entitled to when she was still serving as chairperson of the African Union – VIP protection from the presidential protection unit.
“In terms of the PPU’s mandate, protection is provided to the president and deputy president of the Republic of South Africa, former presidents, foreign heads of state and their spouses,” the SAPS said in a statement,
The Sunday Times recently reported that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) was paying for the protection after her return to the country from AU-duty on March 15. The services were only extended until the end of March, when she vacated her EU position.
Even if Dlamini Zuma did require extended security protection at a time that ANC factions are going to war with one another, there can be no justification, on either legal or moral grounds, that taxpayers should be picking up the bill.
To aggravate the situation, according to some reports, there is evidence that she was receiving VIP protection before the alleged incident at the hotel. If this proves to be true, it is a sign that public lies will, as it did in episode one, again feature prominent in the new instalment.
In the process the new lead character in the Zuma saga is also becoming embroiled in her first court case, all of her own – something that frequently dominated the plot under her predecessor.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, an ardent Zuma supporter since the latter’s own 2007 ‘presidential campaign,’ would not comment on why Dlamini Zuma was accorded the VIP security guards at taxpayers’ expense.
However, opposition party Congress of the People (Cope) said it would be laying criminal charges against Mbalula "for contravening the presidential protection mandate, calling it “a blatant abuse of state resources and taxpayers' money."
And, the official opposition in parliament, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said it would write to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to ask that she urgently investigate the matter.
No one can claim that politics in South Africa is boring, even if a good dose of tranquiliser are needed to keep following it.
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