The recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has put South Africa in a precarious situation.
South Africa stands on the crossroads as the Jacob Zuma factor remains a living reality, if not a horror movie.
The recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has put South Africa in a precarious situation. And as such, the economic freedom so many are yearning for has further been delayed by a few who caused an absolute mayhem that has affected the majority of the people in our country.
This happens when governments across the globe are working around the clock to come up with recovery plans and programmes to counter the damages of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
In South Africa, we are faced with political and economic instability and possibly another wave of violent destruction that could re-emerge if the courts find Zuma guilty in the cases he faces.
Zuma’s walking out and not returning to the Zondo Commission has proved to be costly not only for him but for the rest of the nation.
Had Zuma, just like many others, obeyed the Constitution of the country that, when he was sworn in as the president of the republic, had promised to respect and uphold, completed his testimony at the State Capture, South Africa may not have experienced the violence and destruction that occurred after he handed himself to serve his 15-month sentence for being in contempt of court.
Sadly for him, he would have been a freeman and he would have been in a much better position to attend to his health, which, according to reports, has deteriorated since his imprisonment.
Let’s pray that he gets well soon.
Zuma’s failure to respect the constitution has led to the loss of 337 lives.
And the South African Property Owners Association estimates the unrest could cost the country R50 billion in lost output, with about 150 000 jobs threatened.
The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) has called on the government to beef up its efforts in providing relief to black businesses and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) after the civil unrest that broke out in KZN and Gauteng.
According to Gauteng Nafcoc’s spokesperson Refilwe Monageng, many black businesses, which had already been struggling for months to survive the Covid-19 crisis, were left in the cold due to the unrest.
As this newspaper reports, Monageng remarked: “The government’s additional economic recovery measures, announced by President Ramaphosa on July 25, are a useful step forward. However, black businesses and SMMEs, in general, need more help. We appeal to the government to increase their efforts to provide extensive relief to our workers, employers and communities, as soon as possible. There are many more options available to the government, including further support through comprehensive tax relief, debt amnesty provisions, and even grants.”
Now, what happens with the latest developments on Zuma declining health in jail?
A tricky one indeed.
Zuma would have to receive early parole like all other convicts whose health has deteriorated to such an extent that medical experts have ruled that the inmate’s death was imminent. Assuming that his health is really deteriorating.
And all the money that was stolen under Zuma’s reign must be returned to the State. But what happens if Zuma survives the ‘imminent death’ and goes on to recover. What then?
If there’s any possibility of a special arrangement that needs to be made between Zuma and the State let it be made, bearing in mind that Zuma is a former head of State.
And with special benefits he is entitled to, including his security, then we could have a situation where the State and most probably the courts, would have to offer Zuma a deal to plead guilty to all the charges against him in return for a presidential pardon.
But this could be a dangerous agreement and move for the country as Zuma could be implicated in other new charges related to his time in exile and while he was MEC for finance in KZN, in which rumours of wrongdoing on Zuma’s part vibrate.
Then we could be back to square one, with Zuma defying the law again and possibly being pressured to hand himself over to the police.
Another option the State could explore is would be to Zuma a presidential pardon in exchange for him telling all and pleading guilty, in which case he will be asked to leave the country permanently.
The instigators have vowed to bring the country into a ‘standstill’ on August 23 if Zuma is not released.
Add to this the possibility of Zuma appealing his convictions, it could take years for all this to come to an end.
One way or another, the Zuma matter has become the elephant in the room. It’s polarising the nation further.
The polarisation intensified in the 2007 ANC’s national conference in Polokwane. From this, a breakaway was born which became the Congress of the People (COPE). Cosatu’s biggest affiliate at the time Numsa followed suit.
And a lot of other unions left Cosatu under Zuma’s tenure, protesting what they called a capitalist-led National Development Plan (NDP) which Zuma spearheaded. Hence the birth of Saftu.
Sadly, too, the Marikana massacre occurred during the Zuma presidency.
The running and stealing of our country by the Guptas is something that still pains many.
Zuma’s refusaL to cooperate fully with the Zondo Commission can be translated by other people as an admission of guilt for the crimes he committed and allowing State Capture to unfold.
When Zuma left office many would have thought it was the end of an era that we would soon forget. But somehow the nightmare keeps popping with devastating effect.
Since ascending to the top job in the land President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts of leading the ‘New Dawn’ in remaking the country have been frustrated by the Zuma led faction.
The Zuma Administration failed to address poverty, unemployment and inequality during their time in office. Even when the levels of unemployment were unacceptably high during Zuma’s reign, there was no R350 that was made available to the unemployed, especially the youth.
It would be in Ramaphosa and the country’s best interest to consider pardoning Zuma and stop the ‘horror movie’.
Mgudlwa is an award-winning journalist