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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue May 16, 2017 5:04 am 
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Well, the Constitutional Court has now heard argument in support of the whole Secret Ballot In A Vote Of No Confidence motion.

And the question that they have to answer is, in short, this; according to the constitution, is a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence prohibited, or permitted, or mandatory?

There were plenty of submissions from plenty of lawyers - asking for different things. Some wanted "at least permitted". Some wanted mandatory. At least one lawyer asked for the Court to rule that it was mandatory to hold a secret ballot in the present circumstances even if it's not a long-term ruling. And even the lawyers on Zuma's side conceded that "prohibited" is not going to fly, which is a bit of a reversal on their part. So it looks like the decision is going to be between 'permitted' and 'mandatory'.

It's also worth bearing in mind - the judges certainly kept it in mind - that the parliamentary and judicial branches are supposed to be independent. Given that, is it even possible for a court to rule that the secret ballot is mandatory?

Judgement has been reserved.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue May 16, 2017 9:41 am 
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CCC wrote:

It's also worth bearing in mind - the judges certainly kept it in mind - that the parliamentary and judicial branches are supposed to be independent. Given that, is it even possible for a court to rule that the secret ballot is mandatory?



I would assume that they can. There ought to be laws, to specify how the procedures of the parliament work. And the judical branch would be responsible to decide if a given way of doing things satisifies thoose laws or not. The parliament would have the power to change those laws. though probalby that would involve changes to the constitution, that are (or ought to be) more difficult then simple changes of laws.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue May 16, 2017 11:50 am 
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arcosh wrote:
I would assume that they can. There ought to be laws, to specify how the procedures of the parliament work. And the judical branch would be responsible to decide if a given way of doing things satisifies thoose laws or not. The parliament would have the power to change those laws. though probalby that would involve changes to the constitution, that are (or ought to be) more difficult then simple changes of laws.


There are parliamentary procedure rules. I think Parliament sets those; they have to follow what the Constitution says. Everything has to follow what the Constitution says.

Changes in the constitution require a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament. Incidentally, the ANC has something like 62% of Parliament (which is less than they've had before). So, they can't quite change the Constitution on their own... but they don't need many others to join in to push through a change. On the other hand, given the extent of the anti-Zuma feelings around, I somehow suspect they'd have trouble pushing through any sort of constitutional amendment right now.

I'm hoping that the secret ballot will happen; and I think the best way to ensure that is via the Constitutional Court. But I don't know if this is going to cause long-term issues in a decade or two. I can't off-hand see how it could, but, well...

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:40 am 
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Not much in the way of new news, but I did find an article giving a timeline of Zuma-related events as a kind of an overview.

Still waiting on that constitutional court ruling. There have been some suggestions that, if the secret ballot does go ahead, then it's possible that the ANC might quietly pull Zuma out of the presidency to prevent the embarrassment of having him voted out.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 5:10 am 
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...well. Remember Pravin Gordhan? The finance minister that Zuma threw out?

He's now joined the Parlimentary Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. I'm not quite sure exactly what this permission entails, but apparently it includes the ability to ask questions of people involved in the whole Zuma mess-up.

Questions like:

Quote:
"We want to know who instructed whom (in regards to Molefe's return to Eskom), which phone calls were made, what meetings were held? I'm not expecting a truthful anwer, by the way."


...he's still a member of the ANC. But this sounds like a significant movement within the ANC trying to cut Zuma and friends out.

And that's not the only one. The old ANC ally, Cosatu (Congress Of South African Trade Unions) has officially said that the President is no longer welcome to speak at its events. (This doesn't come as too much of a surprise, given how he was booed the last time he tried - but the ANC turning on his cronies is more unexpected. Both are, however, pretty significant.)

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Fri May 26, 2017 4:47 am 
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So, there's now a sixty-three page report out from a bunch of South African academics (university professors and so on) describing exactly what Zuma did and how it all happened. (Short form, they've apparently subverted a whole bunch of institutions to serve their whims, including almost all the institutions that are supposed to stop this sort of thing). Their conclusion is that what happened is basically a 'silent coup', and that the only way to fix this is to disassemble the entire Zuma/Gupta network.

And the South African Council of Churches has said that we're inches from becoming a Mafia state.

And, in the middle of all this pressure on Zuma... the ANC's national executive council is meeting today. I don't see how they can not at least briefly mention this whole Zuma debacle during their meeting. If we're lucky, the NEC will recognise that Zuma's leadership is turning people rather sharply against the ANC, and they'll recall him (which they have the power to do, in theory). But I think Zuma's willing to play dirty, so it'll take more than that to oust him...

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue May 30, 2017 4:47 am 
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Well, that was a... busy weekend.

So, at the ANC's national executive council meeting, they actually did debate the idea of telling Zuma to step down. Not only that, but some anonymous source sent a large pile of emails to a couple of local newspapers.

What emails? Well, basically a lot of chatter between the Guptas and several politicians, people on the boards of companies, and so on and so forth.

We're talking seriously detailed stuff. The sort of stuff that probably has the corrupt politicians in question wondering who leaked them, whether or not someone in their group has grown a conscience... and what else may have been leaked. (It also includes mention of Zuma apparently arranging a home for himself in the United Arab Emirates. One wonders if he's preparing himself a safe place to retire to, away from angry corruption allegations).

Now, this sort of strong evidence of corruption cries out for a response of some sort. And, thus, the ANC's national executive council responded.

They decided not to tell Zuma to step down; and then they went one step further, and outright stated that any ANC MPs who voted in favour of a motion of no confidence in Jacob Zuma would be guilty of misconduct, being a violation of a rule which summarises down to "ANC MPs should not act in collaboration with some other organisation that the ANC is not allied with when such action goes against the aims of the ANC." In other words, and ANC members who vote against Zuma - and are known to do so - can expect to be fired from their posts. (For perfectly legal - as far as I know - reasons of misconduct). So now I'm really hoping that the constitutional court does decide that a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence is mandatory.

Some old stalwarts of the ANC (now mostly retired) have had some very angry words to say about the party refusing to recall Zuma. Over 65% of South African voters want Zuma to resign (while apparently 27% think he's doing a good job and should stay on).

As to these leaked emails, the Guptas themselves say that they've done nothing wrong and would very much like to know how the newspapers got hold of these emails.

So. Zuma's position has been shaken, but for the moment, holds together. Given how much this corruption story is turning everyone against him, I do wonder how long it will last. (I have heard a few people state that they would like Zuma to remain in place until 2019 - so that the ANC has no chance to rebuild its battered image before the 2019 elections and gets thoroughly voted out of power. Though I can see the merits of this line of argument, I personally want him out of power before he does more damage to the country - him and the entire network of patronage that he stands at the head of. It seems it's a pretty thorough web of corruption and will take a pretty strong effort to root out; actually getting Zuma out of power is merely the first of a long series of necessary steps...)

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:35 am 
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Those Gupta emails keep on giving more and more revelations.

Like... what the Guptas exactly get out of this whole arrangement. You know, paying for politicians to stay in expensive hotels, personally picking out ministerial posts, getting their own people on the boards of state-owned enterprises, carefully subverting those institutions meant to protect against corruption... sooner or later, one would expect they'd try to get something back for their efforts.

Apparently they've already managed to get something like five billion rands out of it. (Yes, that's billion, not million.) How? Well, the government-owned rail company, Transnet, accepted a tender from some Chinese rail company (CSR Hong Kong, a subsidiary of China South Rail) which involves Transnet buying some locomotives - which is a thing that Transnet really needed to buy. And CSR, as it turns out, then signed another contract with a Gupta-owned company to pay then 21% of the proceeds of that tender for 'advisory services' involved in winning the contract. And apparently that - along with similar 'advisory services' being provided to a couple of other companies that also won parts of the tender in question - adds up to around five billion rands. (Which, incidentally, is about a third of a billion in US$).

There's a long write-up with plenty more details [over here](http://amabhungane.co.za/article/2017-0 ... -kickbacks)...

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

Meanwhile, Zuma's put forward his budget - to widespread condemnation from the opposition parties. The DA leader went so far as to refer to "President Gupta, which apparently caused a bit of an outcry on the first day; on the second day, most of the opposition parties boycotted Zuma's speech entirely.

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

As to what to do about Zuma - Zuma's proposed solution is to put together a judicial panel to investigate these allegations. Which is all well and good, until we get to the point where Zuma wants to be the one to appoint the judge leading said judicial panel.

...it doesn't exactly take an Einstein to spot the problem with Zuma appointing the judge to look into allegations against Zuma.

(To be fair, is generally is up to the President to appoint such judicial commissions; Zuma's pushing to exploit the rules for his greatest benefit, but the rules were never designed to deal with this sort of widespread corruption...)

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

Oh, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation has also called for Zuma to step down. They're not even (generally) very political at all. Of course, at this point the ANC and - I think, the ANC Youth League - are the only even remotely major political players who aren't calling for Zuma to step down. (But the ANC is the major political power - 62% of parliament is a lot of pull to have...)

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:10 am 
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Apparently Zuma has now made it to a list of five world leaders less popular than Trump.

He continues to insist that the "Gupta Emails" are all a fabrication, that he hasn't been thoroughly bribed by this group of businessmen so shady that local banks won't even touch their money, and he doesn't have a second home in the United Arab Emirates to retreat to once his term as President is over. To which the leader of the largest opposing political party (the DA) apparently responded with (paraphrased) "If it's all false, then why don't you sue the newspaper that reported this?"

He has a point. I mean, there's no argument that the contents of said emails have been massively defamatory; the only possible defense the newspapers can use is that of truth. And if Zuma is saying it's false, well then, if he really believed that...

I'd be very surprised if it did go that way, mind you. Zuma's too smart to try to sue for libel against someone who can probably stroll into the court with ironclad proof. He'll no doubt just ignore the question and continue to loudly deny that the emails mean anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:06 am 
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Here we go around and around...

You might recall that all the big South African banks, some time ago, very politely and very firmly closed down all the Gupta's accounts. Banks... generally don't like to do that without very good reason. And now, one of those big banks (Absa) has apparently decided it's time to close down the bank account of one of Zuma's wives, after being unable to find good reason for the odd million moving through said account. (It seems they've also already stopped being willing to deal with Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma, some time back). Her official response is that she never got the letter from the bank.

Oh, and one of the ANC's ministers has made some public comments claiming that some other ANC leaders have backstabbed Zuma and that they were only motivated by money in doing so. Oh, and those Guptas who have been drawing several billions out of the country? He says that's alright because they "only got crumbs". Despite, you know, Nkandla. And all those emails. Moreover, he seems to have managed to say all this while keeping a straight face... somehow.

In other news, Zuma continues to try to delay official investigation into this whole mess, he may have subverted the crime intelligence unit of the police into spying on his political opponents instead of trying to ferret out organised crime, and yet another group is calling for his removal.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:17 pm 
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This is what blatant corruption looks like. When you have so thoroughly compromised any institution that could possibly hold you accountable, that you don't even have to bother making up plausible lies. About a month ago, Trevor Noah said that everything Trump does feels awfully familiar to him. If anything, Trump's in the junior leagues of crooked overweening politicians.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:01 am 
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Yeah - I see Trump as a Zuma who's not yet thoroughly entrenched himself as Zuma has. Which, I guess, makes this entire topic a cautionary tale for those who have to deal with Trump... you might very easily have plenty of trouble ousting him. A well-entrenched politician is not easy to remove outside of a general election.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:57 am 
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Fortunately, the Republican hold on power is much weaker than the ANC's was when he was first getting set up. What were Zuma's approval ratings during his first term?

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:00 am 
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Back in 2009, his approval ratings were fairly strong. But there is a bit of history to consider here.

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

It all starts in 1994. (Well, it started well before that, but this is a convenient point to pick up from). This was when Apartheid fell and everyone of sufficient age had a vote for the first time. The old National Party was voted out of power instantly, of course (many of the NP politicians had made an arrangement to technically be on the ANC roster, where they would sit quietly at the back of parliament and try to avoid too much attention). As a party, the NP died that election. This was the start of Nelson Mandela's five-year term as President. He was a brilliant man, and a brilliant President, and his Presidency really cemented the ANC's standing.

He left after only one five-year term, and retired to spend his twilight years with his family. After 1999, he made a deliberate effort to stay out of the spotlight and let his successors run the country.

I'm not sure whether the ANC's largest election victory was in 1994 or 1999. Either way, though, at this point they were the golden party - at one stage they had enough seats to be able to amend the Constitution without the help of any other party (i.e. somewhere over two-thirds of Parliament).

His successor was Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki was - well, no-one's going to quite be able to stand up to the legacy of someone like Mandela. Mbeki did some good things, some not-so-good things; he was a fairly average politician in most respects, but he had a few blind spots (mostly in how he dealt with the issue of AIDS - he, and his health minister, seemed convinced that these antiretroviral drugs were a sneaky attempt to poison people and that one should rather follow a diet high in beetroot as a cure. But we're not talking corruption; we're talking bad advice and severe incompetence on a single, though important, facet).

During Mbeki's reign, there was perhaps a slight decline in ANC support from voters. Not big; Mandela was still recent history, and both well and favourably remembered.

Then there was the Polokwane Elective Conference. Named after the city in which it took place, this was where the ANC elected its next President - and, somehow, someone had been really pushing to split the ANC down the middle, between two candidates. It was taken for granted that whoever got the ANC presidency would be the next President of the country as well. First of these candidates was Thabo Mbeki, who had been making noises about relaxing the two-term Presidential term limit. Second of these candidates was Jacob Zuma, who already had a corruption scandal sniffing around his head. For all of his flaws, though, Zuma knows how to manipulate a crowd, and managed to obtain the position of president of the ANC. The ANC then recalled Mbeki, made his vice-president the President of the country for a while, and waited for the next election. (Zuma frantically delayed and delayed his corruption court case. Note that the other party - Schabir Shaik - had already been convicted of paying bribes to Zuma, the charges against him related to reciept of those bribes).

In time, the election happened. Suddenly, pursuing those corruption allegations became a good deal harder. I don't recall exactly how it went down - I think Zuma replaced the head of the National Prosecuting Authority, and the new guy suddenly found some reason not to pursue the charges against Zuma - something like that. Anyhow. Those particular corruption charges are still hanging over his head, pretty much ready to reappear as soon as he is no longer President. But there were at the time a lot of people - especially in KwaZulu-Natal - for whom Zuma was the Hero. A man with no more formal education than a Standard Four (that's six years of primary schooling, if your country uses different terms) (but never, never mistake lack of formal education for lack of intelligence) rising to a position of great power and wealth; a man who has a gift for inspiring emotion in a crowd, for being a sort of charismatic everyman. And, of course, he also had several wives and a number of children somewhere in the double figures. (I don't know what the actual popularity figures were at the time. But they were pretty strong, and especially strong in his home province).

So, at first, he - more or less - inherited the popularity of his party. Which was strong, very strong, especially in certain circles. He rode that wave right through one entire five-year term and into the next - though the party took a few hits in popularity, it still has over 50% of parliament. It's only lately that his popularity has fallen off a cliff. (Oh, for a long, long time, this has been building. It's like erosion - for a long time, little bits here and there have fallen off - only recently has a large part of the cliff face suddenly collapsed). There were... rumours of further corrupt dealings. But they hardly ever got as far as court (Zuma employs excellent lawyers).

Now, though, with this whole archive of emails showing evidence of corruption - with people all over turning against Zuma - with the ANC's next elective conference this December - well, we'll see what happens.

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 Post subject: Re: Zuma
 Post Posted: Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:47 am 
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The Constitutional Court has ruled on the matter of the secret ballot!

To summarise; when impeaching a president, their ruling is that it a secret ballot may be held, but the final decision is left to the Speaker of the National Assembly. This, is seems, is because actually ordering that a secret vote would be mandatory is overstepping even their very broad authority.

So, it's all down to the Speaker, now. The same person who previously insisted that this wasn't in her power, and who seems reluctant to do anything directly against Zuma. (But also seems reluctant to appear entirely responsible for his staying in office).

...I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens now.

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