Give Zuma the Boot
Zuma has once again shown his disdain for the urban and rural poor. His apology cannot be accepted. The Nkandla debacle has gone on now for some six years. State money was spent on aggrandizing the lifestyle of the president and his family, yet he tried every trick in the book to shift guilt and not pay back the money.
Now he has been firmly tied up by the Constitutional Court ruling that he is liable. For the majority of the population this is not some rocket science observation by the court. How is it possible that one’s original small home suddenly grows overnight into a palace and none of the money to pay for the changes comes out of your pocket.
President Zuma is not alone amongst the world’s presidents in thinking that state money is in fact their own bank account to spend at will. President Erdogan of Turkey is building a 1150 room palace for himself costing just under a billion rand out of the state coffers
The Panama Papers
The Panama Papers have linked a long list of well-known figures to shady dealings, tax evasion and tucking away state money in personal hidden accounts to keep them very rich and secure their own futures at the expense of the majority in society. Among these names are the President of Argentina, the former Iraq PM, the King of Saudi Arabia, President of Ukraine, cousins of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, PM of Pakistan, lifelong friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the son of the President of Angola and the father of the British PM, David Cameron. We are told this is just the first leak, there is a lot more information to come.
Recently the President of Iceland had to resign after been exposed in the Panama papers as having interests in previously bankrupt banks for which, as head of state, he negotiated bail out agreements.
Local newspapers have exposed the shady links between the Zuma family and state enterprises owned by the Gupta family empire. The Guptas are not alone in the game of corruption. It is estimated that some R435 billion has been syphoned out of the country by big corporations (mostly white owned) in illicit transfers over the recent years.
We see the rapacious hunger of the ruling classes across the world attacking the gains that the working class have fought for and won in the past, plunging the Middle East and parts of Africa into chaos as a result of their imperialist interests and fattening themselves and their families in glutinous luxury.
Mbeki kicked started the neo-liberalism agenda and Zuma has just continued on with the same game. This has corrupted the national liberation movement and disgraced the aspirations of past martyrs and the tremendous struggles of the trade union movement and ordinary people in defeating apartheid rule.
Zuma Must Go outside the Constitutional Court argued recently in calling for Zuma to step down:
“Unemployment has reached catastrophic levels, with 8.3 million in the streets and a staggering 60% of youth out of jobs. More workers are being outsourced and casualised. 13 million of our people go to bed on empty stomachs, while the government tells us that 53% of the population live in poverty…… We are now the most unequal society in the world”
On top of this we have embedded in our memories the recent Marikana massacre.
The Constitutional Court ruling also highlighted the shameful role of the National Assembly (dominated by the ANC) in assisting Zuma to side step the Public Protector’s ruling that he was liable for some of the alterations at his palatial home. It is easy to strike up conversation in the streets on the issue. There is a sense of uneasiness about the future, the economy is falling, retrenchments are common place and prices are skyrocketing, there are even divisions starting to emerge in ANC branches, president Zuma is seen as a problem.
ANC figures like Mavuso Msimang have stood on platforms saying, “Mr President, please step aside, and let the good women and men of my organisation lead us for the right reasons again.“ Zwelinzima Vavi argues that, “Unless South Africans stand up to reclaim the right to determine their own destiny, they are in danger of watching our beloved country becoming a predatory state”
The campaign to get Zuma to step down is gaining momentum, meetings are been called in many areas across the country, however it will not be an easy task, Zuma has entrenched around him many in the ANC who depend on him for jobs and favours. Only a mass campaign, led from below, will have any chance of successfully unseating Zuma. The Zuma Must Go initiative will need to gain support from at the very least the newly emerging independent union federation initiative led by NUMSA.
President Zuma had the power to stop the building of Nkandla at state expense; he had the power to stop the Marikana massacre. He did not stop anything, his apology comes too late and cannot be accepted.
Knocking the President off his throne will be an important step in building the confidence of working people and their poor relatives. In the long term we will have to knock the ruling elite off their thrones as well if we are going to achieve a society of peace and prosperity, that is, socialism.