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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:43 am 
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Weekend is now over. Zuma is still the President, though we've now reached that tricky time when that might only be still true for a matter of hours.

We're all waiting for whatever comes out of today's NEC meeting. In the meantime, various news outlets are speculating on various possible immunity-from-prosecution deals - with one raising the point that one doesn't usually offer said immunity to the kingpin in order to catch the small fry, but rather against the small fry in order to catch the kingpin. Oh, and it's not like there's any shortage of evidence against the Guptas, so it's hard to see why such a deal would be at all necessary.

In the meantime, others are starting to get a little impatient waiting for Zuma's exit. It's clear that the longer this takes, the worse things will get for the ANC.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:31 am 
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Immunity from prosecution is a common political tactic used to bribe dictators to leave peacefully. Zuma isn't a dictator, but the fact that people are considering it means they're that worried he and his supporters could do quite some damage on the way out. Probably.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:30 am 
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Well, now the ANC NEC meeting has concluded (apparently at 3am on Tuesday morning - a thirteen-hour mega-meeting, so it seems they had a lot to argue about).

Short version, they're giving Zuma one last chance to resign (and thus not face the indignity of a recall) - he has 48 hours in which to do so (a decision of which Zuma was informed shortly before midnight - the NEC meeting carried on a couple of hours beyond that point, without Zuma).

News reports have suggested the Zuma was asking for some sort of immunity from prosecution, but that it wasn't ever even on the table (it's not something that the ANC could legally offer, other political parties have made it extremely clear that they will have their lawyers tear apart anything illegally offered (whether an immunity or even just having the state coffers cover Zuma's legal costs, which are likely to be immense), and the courts are really independent and will only decide on things bought before them in the courtroom (and any sort of immunity needs to be confirmed by a judge, and is only offered in cases where it's really necessary, which it almost certainly isn't here)).

Zuma is not resigning. Apparently he wants to still be President at the time of the next Brics summit (five months from now) - something which seems rather unlikely to me, but Zuma is giving this his all. (Which may be because the DA has made it more than clear that they're going to have those seven-hundred-odd corruption charges reinstated the moment it's possible to do so - I don't know whether or not they've actually got lawyers on standby at the door of the relevant court with all the paperwork already filled out, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least).

It seems it's a bit unclear what actually happens if Zuma outright refuses to be recalled (it seems that that's an option, which surprised me). But one way in which he can be undeniably removed from power is via a Motion of No Confidence, which requires over 50% of Parliament to vote in favour - that is, at least 201 votes in favour out of 400 seats. The ANC has 249 seats in parliament, so any such motion would need the support of at least 50 ANC MPs (this is why no such motion has succeeded before; but if Ramaphosa tells the ANC MPs to vote in favour, then that changes things). Having to remove him from power in this way, however, will be massively embarrassing to the ANC as a whole (it'll look like they can't manage their own internal affairs).

Now, as it happens, the EFF has put forward a Motion of No Confidence, currently scheduled to be debated on the 22nd of February. I say currently scheduled because the EFF has put forward a request to have it debated sooner. As in, as soon as possible. As in, sometime this week. And if the Speaker (Baleka Mbete) doesn't cooperate, the EFF is going to take the matter to court (the EFF tend to be loud rabble-rousers; the courts are likely to say that 22 February is not unreasonable). I suspect that half the reason they're pushing so hard on this is because they want to tell people that they got rid of Zuma, and that the ANC can't manage it's own internal affairs and therefore does not deserve votes.

On top of that, a whole bunch of opposition parties have argued that Parliament, as it stands, was complicit in the entire Zuma mess, largely because it didn't stop Zuma, and thus Parliament should be dissolved. (Parliament can vote to be dissolved; however, once again, this takes 201 votes; thus, 50 ANC members have to vote in favour). They want to debate this at the same meeting as the Motion of No Confidence.

If Parliament is dissolved, then we have to have general elections within 90 days to appoint a new Parliament. (It's easy to see why the opposition parties want this - they want the general elections to be held now, when the ANC is at the nadir of its popularity, rather than letting Ramaphosa get over a year of time to try to rebuild the party's battered image before the 2019 elections. Every non-ANC party stands to gain voters if the election is held sooner rather than later).

And the State of the Nation Address continues to be delayed...

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:54 am 
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I see also an other possible reason, why the EFF pushes for a vote of no confidence soon.

If the vote happens before the ANC has finished it's internal processes, the EFF can go into the next election with "See how many ANC parliamentarians did stick to Zuma until the end".

If the vote gets postponed often and long they can go into the next election with "See how long the ANC did protect Zuma".

This makes it somewhat more likely that Zuma survives a vote of no confidence (if the new ANC leadership can't bring enough parliamentarians in line before the vote) but it traps the ANC between making a fast 180 degree turn on Zuma, which likely causes internal turmoil, or to be still tainted by Zuma at the next election.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:05 am 
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The ANC has pretty much already done a 180 on Zuma. News from today: Zuma gave an interview on the SABC (national broadcaster) in which he said that recalling him didn't make sense because "no-one can explain what he did wrong". Which means he's being wilfully ignorant...

Ramaphosa has put down an ultimatum, however. If Zuma hasn't resigned by 14:00 tomorrow, then parliament will meet to debate the EFF's motion of no confidence. And he's made it clear that he expects ANC MPs to vote in favour of the motion. Then the ANC (which holds a majority of seats on Parliament all on it's own) will try and very probably succeed in getting Ramaphosa elected President; and he then plans to deliver the State of the Nation Address on Friday.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:15 pm 
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Just saw a news report that Zuma resigned.


CCC can you give us the play by play?

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:29 am 
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It is way too early in the morning for politics.

Alright. So. Ramaphosa having laid down the law to Zuma and made it extremely clear that Zuma has until midnight last night to resign or he WILL be removed by a vote of no confidence (all scheduled at 14:00 today), and Zuma having no way to delay or avoid this, Zuma announced his resignation (at something like 10pm last night, so within the deadline that Ramaphosa had set, but clearly right at the end of it).

Zuma is no longer President. Mind you, he's made it clear that he disagrees with this decision of the ANC on every conceivable level - but there's really nothing he could do to avoid it.

Oh, and his comments about 'not knowing what he did wrong' - apparently he thinks that if he wasn't convicted in a court of law, then nothing that he's done could possibly count as 'wrong'. Even if the only reason he wasn't convicted was because he did anything and everything to avoid the case being heard in the first place. (Oh, and it seems that he doesn't think that his party's sharp decline in popularity once people found out how much he had been looting counts as 'wrong', either).

Nonetheless, the ANC has said that they will explain to him what he did wrong. They don't actually say that they will be using small words...

(Yesterday evening on the news, there was an interview with a guy who had written a book explaining in great detail everything that Zuma and his cronies had done. He said he would mail a copy to Zuma.)

So. What now?

Zuma remains a member of the ANC. He may be persona non grata in Parliament, but the ANC would rather have him inside the party than outside. (The last major politician the ANC threw out was Julius Malema, and he immediately turned round and formed the EFF, and has been a major thorn in their side ever since - I'm sure they don't want a repeat of that scenario).

Cyril Ramaphosa, up until yesterday the Deputy President, immediately becomes the interim President. He is going to want to get himself sworn in as President as quickly as possible. There are t's to cross and i's to dot, but given that the ANC has 249 out of 400 seats in Parliament, he's almost certain to get voted in. (Other parties can put forward their candidates, and it is a secret ballot, but the ANC candidate is the only one with any hope of winning the majority vote).

Zuma's cabinet remains intact - for the moment. This is likely to change once Ramaphosa takes over, as he can then change Cabinet on a whim (and some of the people in there were involved in the whole dodgy Gupta deal to their necks - including the current Finance Minister, who is doing the rough equivalent of whistling innocently while loudly proclaiming that Zuma didn't have him fooled one instant, no sir, not at all).

State of the Nation Address is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday). I expect Ramaphosa to talk a lot about rooting out corruption, fresh starts, new brooms sweeping clean, and to make copious references to Nelson Mandela. He's got something like eighteen months to repair his party's image before the next elections. Parliament will debate the State of the Nation Address on Monday, then Ramaphosa will respond to the debate on Tuesday; Wednesday is the budget speech. (This has raised the question - if Ramaphosa replaces the finance minister before Wednesday, can the replacement get on his feet quickly enough to deliver an annual budget speech by Wednesday?)

The EFF is no doubt going to claim a large part of the responsibility for getting Zuma out, making plenty of reference to their motion of no confidence.

The DA has been pushing to get Zuma to actually face all his corruption charges for something like eight years now. I don't think they'll stop pushing; now that he's lost most of his political power, they'll probably have him in court in double-quick time (though he will delay as much as possible).

I expect both the EFF and the DA to still try to push through a vote to dissolve Parliament and thus force a new general election. I expect such a vote to fail in the teeth of the ANC majority in Parliament.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:46 am 
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Much to the total lack of surprise of all concerned, Ramaphosa has now crossed his t's, dotted his i's, and is now officially the President of South Africa (and not merely the acting President, that being a position he held for around sixteen hours). As of 14:38 (GMT+2) today, apparently.

(Note that the sitting of Parliament that was ready to deploy the Motion of No Confidence against Zuma was supposed to meet only at 14:00 this afternoon. It seems like the item "vote in a new President" was put on the agenda instead of the motion of no confidence, and that the foregone conclusion was reached in under 40 minutes).

At the same time, it seems that the corruption investigations against the Gupta brothers are very suddenly moving into very high gear - by which I mean, said Guptas are getting arrested, police are raiding their homes, and at least one of the brothers (Ajay Gupta) is now a fugitive because he didn't turn up at court at the appointed time. Another of the brothers, Atul Gupta, apparently tried to flee the country on a private chartered plane; but the pilot refused to take him, and Atul was since arrested. The Hawks (a police unit) are also looking for Duduzane Zuma (former-President Zuma's son) in connection with the same case of fraud (something involving a farm, I'm not sure of the details) (but once they're in court on one charge, I imagine the other charges are going to start landing very quickly - I'm certain that quite a few people have gone through that entire leaked email archive looking for any evidence they could find and apparently there was a lot in there).

--------------

So, in short, the Zuma story is now a courtroom drama - with evidence raids and which will probably end up with people trying to skip bail and flee the country and other, similar things - and sooner or later we will probably have an answer to the question of exactly how many of the Presidential retirement benefits a former President keeps while in prison.

At the same time, the Ramaphosa story is the one that's taking an entire country with it. Here we have a politician, not by any means new to politics, leading a party in which he barely won a vote to lead (only a smidgen over 50%), heading up a country which has been crippled by the corruption of his predecessor, in which most of the mechanisms to enable that corruption are still in place (and some of those might be hidden, and/or quickly re-evaluting their loyalties), and he's got only around eighteen months to try to recreate the popularity of his party among the voters - among whom Zuma was always personally popular (very high CHA but unfortunately very low WIS).

In both sagas, things are going to be interesting, but it looks like the sort of 'interesting' that gets discussed in great detail in law departments in universities for decades after the fact and has an impact on things like taxes and employment rates, and (very fortunately) not the sort of 'interesting' that comes with body counts.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:56 pm 
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Congratulations! Maybe there's hope for us on this side of the ocean as well... It's a very good sign for your relatively young democracy that it can survive a Zuma...

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:53 pm 
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It is a good sign, yes.

And within six months, I expect that the rules for impeachment will be properly laid out and filed, which will hopefully mean that if we ever get a similar situation in the future again, then the problematic President in question can be ejected from his role substantially more quickly.

(The ripple effects of Zuma's reign will be with us for years, possibly decades; he's left an indelible mark on our history, and we as a country are worse off for it. Good luck dealing with Trump - there have been a lot of people noting certain strong similarities between him and Zuma, but Trump's only at the start of his reign. So, for Americans, I guess the Zuma saga is part cautionary tale, part note of hope...).

And just because why not... some farewell cards for Zuma (courtesy of Madam&Eve, a political parody cartoon).

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