Sunday, February 22, 2015

MaNtuli banned from Nkandla over Zuma 'poison plot'

No Fear No Favour No poison please....... I am President.


President Jacob Zuma at his wedding to Nompumelelo Ntuli in 2008. Sources say she has been turned out of Nkandla by the president

President Jacob Zuma's controversial wife Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma has been banned from his Nkandla home following sensational claims of a plot to poison the president.

After months of speculation about the president's relationship with Ntuli-Zuma, sources said the reason she had been cast out related to suspicion by the president of her involvement in an alleged plan to poison him. She now lives in Durban North with her three children.
The president's office has refused to comment on the claim, which has been confirmed to the Sunday Times by three sources.
They claim that although the president fell ill and was hospitalised in June last year, it was only during a trip to the US two months later that a still-ailing Zuma was told he had been poisoned.
However, he did not trust the Americans and went to Russia for treatment. Russian doctors confirmed the diagnosis.
A source said the president was very angry when he found out about the alleged poison plot, but told close relatives to keep it within the family. They were told that Ntuli-Zuma had done "something terrible that could put her in jail for a long time", a family insider said.
Ntuli-Zuma, who had accompanied the president on his August trip to the US, was said to have been ordered to remain in the Nkandla compound. She spent Christmas and New Year's Eve alone in her house in the compound, and moved out in January.
Speculation about the couple's strained relationship has been circulating for months, and was fuelled further last week by her absence from Zuma's state of the nation address. His other wives, Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma, Bongi Ngema-Zuma and Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, attended.
Other pointers to the couple's problems were Ntuli-Zuma's absence from the annual Christmas party hosted by the president in December, and a claim that she did not get her Christmas allowance.
She has also been removed from the international travel roster of the Presidency's spousal office and will no longer be accompanying the president on his trips. She remains entitled to benefits from the spousal office unless a divorce takes place.
The Sunday Times sent detailed questions to the Presidency about Ntuli-Zuma and the circumstances around Zuma's illness. Spokesman Mac Maharaj ignored them, replying only that: "The status of Mrs Nompumelelo Zuma had not changed. She is the spouse of the president."
A direct link between Ntuli-Zuma and a poison plot could not be conclusively established. It is understood that the president believed that she had been motivated by herunhappiness at being sidelined since allegations of reports that she may have had an extramarital affair surfaced a few years ago.
Zuma, as the former chief of ANC intelligence in exile, is said to be extremely paranoid and to believe in conspiracies. When he was diagnosed by the Russians, Zuma believed that only someone within his immediate family circle could have had access to his food. Suspicion fell on Ntuli-Zuma.
Asked about the falling out between Zuma and his second wife, the president's brother Michael said he did not know anything about a poison plot. But he confirmed that Ntuli-Zuma was no longer living at Nkandla.
"I can't remember when she left, but it's not long ago," he said. He said it was difficult for him to say whether Zuma and Ntuli-Zuma would reconcile.
"It's between the two of them. I think you can get it better from them and not me. I don't have any details about that matter. I am also searching for answers but I can't find any," said Michael.
A senior intelligence source confirmed the poisoning incident, saying that it was uncovered when Zuma travelled to Washington on August 3 for a three-day US-Africa Leaders' Summit, hosted by US president Barack Obama. "He was very sick when he went to the US ... that's where the Americans picked up the poison and told him about it."
When he first fell ill on June 7 last year, the official line was that he needed a rest after a hectic election campaign.
He was only seen in public 10 days later when, looking gaunt, he delivered the state of the nation address.
During the 10 days between June 7 and June 17, Zuma was due to have travelled to Brazil for the opening of the Soccer World Cup and the official handover of the event - as South Africa had been the previous host in 2010.
But a family insider said Zuma became so sick during that period that he became disorientated.
"The belief was that the disorientation was because of the wrong diagnosis and the dosage of the prescribed medication given to him by his doctors. He would speak about his late mother as if she was still living and then talk about current issues," said the insider.
After the state of the nation address, Zuma managed to travel to Brazil for the World Cup's closing ceremony.
After returning from the US in August, he made an unexpected trip to Russia, arriving on August 24. There was speculation that he was there to secretly conclude a nuclear deal with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, but the intelligence source said Zuma's health and his distrust of the Americans were behind the trip.
The intelligence source said: "The Russians picked up the same thing as the Americans ... That's why he had to spend a few days there before meeting Putin."
The official line from the government was that Zuma would spend two days holding low-key meetings and "use the period to rest" ahead of his meeting with Putin on the third day. What was bizarre about the trip was that Zuma travelled only with State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Deputy Minister of International Relations Nomaindia Mfeketo and a few officials.
Soon after Zuma's return, his personal physician, Dr Harold Adams, was removed from his position for having failed to diagnose what was wrong with him, according to two independent sources.
Adams this week denied that he had been removed fromZuma's team, saying that he took time off to study.
"Remember, the president has a team of people looking after him and I was one of them. I decided to [step] aside and finish my degree so that I can come back ... stronger," he said.
Repeated calls to MaNtuli went unanswered this week. She, however, changed her Whatsapp profile picture to a box with the words: "Umoya wami u phansi" (my spirit is down).
In an apparent reference to the devil, her status says: "Davel is a lie."
Relatives at her newly built home in rural Maphumulo near Kranskop in KwaZulu-Natal said they did not know anything about her being kicked out of Nkandla. MaNtuli's mother could not be reached for comment.



Living at Nkandla has its downside for ZUMA.
StrychnineStrychnine is a colourless, crystalline powder with an exceptionally bitter taste. It is obtained from Strychos nux vomica and other plants. About one and a half grains (100 Milligrams) constitutes a fatal dose. Although 15 mg of the poison has proved fatal, and toxic symptoms can result from a dose as small as 5 mg.
Strychnine poisoning causes the muscles of the back to go into spasms, causing convulsions so intense that the body aches violently. This symptom called opisthotonus, can last up to two minutes, during which time the victim is conscious and in extreme pain. Sometimes the muscles of the face are drawn up in a horrifying smile of death referred to as the risus sardonicus in some older textbooks. Eventually these muscles tensions prevent the lungs from working. Death, from either respiratory failure or exhaustion, usually follows within an hour.
In the past strychnine has been used as rat poison. At one time, there was also a plethora of strychnine-based 'tonics' available. These were usually prescribed to invalids and people recovering from long illnesses. Tiny amounts of the drug have the effect of raising the blood pressure slightly, which tends to create a general feeling of well being. Not surprisingly, accidental deaths and suicides from strychnine were fairly common. These would result if the bottle had not been shaken properly and the patient would take a dose of the concentrated strychnine liquid, which had accumulated at the bottom of the bottle.

Death in a bottle.

                                           Daisy De Melker  - 1932

Used it effectively....... 



Monday, February 16, 2015

SONA2015: The night South Africa stood still. It still does.

No Fear No Favour No Dictatorship for Zuma......


Another of South Africa’s transformative Big Bangs has exploded and — congratulations! — you now live in a brand new country, one that’s ensconced in a deep and very serious political crisis. With the weekend to consider the implications of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address and the surrounding mayhem, perhaps it’s time to reappraise just what happened on that terrible night, and what has come to pass in the days since. By RICHARD POPLAK.

Twenty-one guns
Cape Town’s Twankey Bar is appended to the Taj Hotel, its bay windows offering a vista of Adderley and Wale Streets, and therefore a spy’s-eye view of the city’s Parliamentary precinct. On the night of President Jacob Zuma’s 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA), the annual event that over the course of his tenure has transformed from a political pageant into a reality show policed by its own shoot-to-kill security force, the Twankey resembled a bar during the finals of some forgotten but suddenly resurgent gladiatorial tournament. Members of the British High Commission, members of ANC advisory teams, members of the Democratic Alliance, sodden journalists, baffled tourists—all on their feet in front of two mounted flat screens, waiting for President Zuma to take to the podium and open this year’s Parliamentary session with a 70-minute speech. There were many plotlines to consider: would the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema, stage a disruption? Would the Democratic Alliance, led by Mmusi Maimane, back the disruption? Would Zuma pre-empt all of this with a dazzling act of oratory that dealt with the issue of the costly renovations at his Nkandla residence (misspent money the Public Protector has ordered him to pay back), thus neutering the opposition and once again taking control of the National Assembly and the country he ostensibly leads?
Even before Zuma dragged his diminishing frame up to the lectern, there were signs that all would not proceed according to the programme. As journalists, Parliamentarians and dignitaries filed into the house, they found that their mobiles were not working. It was clear to almost anyone born after 1950 that their devices were jammed by a signal blocker, and the media contingent took to their feet and spat out another of the hashtag memes that these days define our politics: “Bring back the signal!” And so State Security Minister David Mahlobo disappeared from the house, waved his arms like a cut-rate Steve Jobs at a Bronze Age tech convention, and lo!—the signal returned. The first befouling of the Constitution had occurred before Zuma had opened his mouth.
If the ANC rules at Christ’s behest, as the president has so often insisted it does, then was this not jamming in the name of the Lord? Regardless, for me these botched sleights of hand were foreshadowed 24 hours before SONA. I was on my way to a political gabfest, walking alongside a dry run of the street parade that would usher the president’s cortege into Parliament, and as I made my way through Company Gardens, the world blew up a few feet in front of me. I dropped to my knees, while the universe was torn a second time, then a third, then a fourth. As the gardens filled with the smell of cordite and fake war I realised that this was a full dress rehearsal for the 21-gun salute that would greet our president when he and his entourage entered the Parliamentary precinct on Thursday. There was no warning, scant cordoning, and only two guards keeping people away from the patch of roaring lawn adjacent the National Museum. In all the prelapsarian ferment, I thought the civil war had started without me.
Deaf, dizzy, disoriented, I looked over to a park bench, where amid the boom of artillery fire a drunk took a slug from a half-jack, and then promptly fell asleep. In awe, I noted that the slumbering boozer was pantomiming the ANC’s entire political strategy—when the guns start blazing, pretend nothing that is happening, sleep it off, and wake up to find that the world has returned to normal.
Bringing Down the House
For two decades, that strategy has worked more or less to perfection. But now, there is no more normal. Or rather, in the light of 72 hours of sober(ish) reflection, this is the new normal. What the State of the Nation debacle delivered was as sharp a summation of the state of the nation as we could possibly have asked for.
The country has arrived at crisis that everyone in a position of power saw coming—Chronicle of a Dissolution Foretold, if you will—and yet did nothing to stop.
In other words, we can say that this is a manufactured crisis, and for some a welcome crisis. “Disorder is the highest stage of order,” the Zimbabwean poet and novelist Dambudzo Marechera once wrote.
With this in mind I hung around the red carpet and watched as third-tier dignitaries and the sprawling Mandela clan posed in their Sunday best, none of whom understood that they’d been reduced to carnival barkers at the entrance to Hell’s circus. Then the ANC’s Next Generation poster boy Malusi Gigaba showed up, in a suit that seemed woven from shark skins, grinning for the cameras like the princeling he is. The DA arrived dressed for a funeral, all in black. The EFF filed in (minus MP Andile Mngxitama) wearing their revolutionary red—all parties staking their positions and stating their policies through the judicious sewing of cloth.
An hour before the speech commenced I was shoed away from the red carpet (I did not crack a ringside wristband). And so I arrived at Twankey Bar, where I was to watch the address on telly, accidentally escorted by riot cops. I chased them chasing a contingent of EFF supporters through Church Street, up St. Georges and back onto Adderley. The cops seemed exhausted and far too large for the job, but then the water cannon thundered in, along with several nyalas. (And this wasn’t the start of their day; earlier five DA members were arrested while staging a protest.) Cape Town hipsters on fixies rode by, gazing at the mini-riot with trademark Mother City bemusement, as if it had all been staged for their Instagram feeds. (Hadn’t it?) Red overalls met black body armour in waves, and when the leader of the EFF group leaned in to scream at the riot cops—the only actual discourse I witnessed all night—he said, “Why aren’t you chasing the ANC? They are behind you! They are right there!”
And suddenly, right there, booming through speakers studding the Parliamentary precinct, were the first few lines of Zuma’s address. I rushed back to Twankey, ordered a meat board, and was just in time for the great interruption. When it happened, when EFF Secretary General Godrich Gardee rose on a point of order and asked the Speaker to ask the president when he was going to Pay Back The Money (the minor act of corruption, among the countless major acts of corruption, upon which all of South Africa’s politics now hangs) the whole bar inhaled. Finally, here it was: The Showdown. Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, wearing a hat that looked like it housed a promising cake, was calm, collected. For a few moments, it seemed like the issue would be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
What transpired has already entered South African lore, but there are one or two details worth teasing out, details that prove just how sclerotic and unimaginative the ANC has become as a political machine, and how easy it has been for a single spurned insider to undo them. The EFF members that followed Gardee rose not on points of order, but on points of privilege. As Julius Malema would later explain, the EFF knew that Mbete had received her marching orders from the ANC’s Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, who had instructed her and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise (otherwise renowned as South Africa’s worst farmer) on what to do should a point of order be raised. But she was completely stymied by points of privilege.
“And that’s because she doesn’t know the rules of Parliament,” as Malema would later point out.
If Malema is correct—and maybe he is, maybe he isn’t—then the, a supposedly non-partisan entity who is meant to work for all members, took instruction from an ANC stalwart who has never been an MP, and has never spent any time in the National Assembly.
“You can know all the rules about Parliament, but until you have been there, you will never know how they work [in practice],” Malema would later say.
And so Mbete lost her cool, and burly men wearing black jackets, white shirts and black slacks—clothes that screamed “security-hack”; clothes that made the last and most emphatic sartorial statement of the night—swarmed in. Meanwhile, on a parallel track in a parallel political world, the DA staged its own, funereal walkout. With great delicacy and in supreme good taste, the state broadcaster turned its cameras away from the violence and focused on Mbete and Modise, and the bruisers went to work. And yet this newspaper had three correspondents in the House, and they emerged with stories and footage revolting in its intensity. This, you must understand, was not pretend violence. It was real violence. It was designed violence. And it was violence that is becoming the lingua franca of South African politics, a violence that is taking the place of the institutions that once saved us from the enormous violence, from the End of Days violence, that lay in wait for us after liberation.
‘Obsessed With My Balls’
When you live in a country governed by a party that jams cell signals and sends thugs after the opposition in the most important of its democratic institutions, then you must admit to yourself that you live a security state, or at the very least a state that acts like a security state. And while the ANC’s bumbling efforts in this regard remind us that they are systemically dysfunctional—there is nothing that they can’t screw up, including screwing up freedom of expression—they do have all of the state’s resources behind them, and I’d wager that they’ll eventually get this specific item appropriately actioned.
It’s also worth noting that all the players got exactly what they wanted from Thursday night’s proceedings. The ANC were determined not to address the Nkandla issue, and they didn’t. They were determined to stick to their Good Story to Tell narrative, and they did. They were determined to gloss over the fact that this country’s electricity grid is falling apart and robbing the economy of billions, any meaningful economic growth, and millions of jobs; they were determined to ignore the fact that our water grid is next up. Zuma’s SONA address was rehearsed in front of a mirror, and it was given in front of a mirror—a house full of his fawning, adoring minions, the gentlemen and ladies that form his vast, sticky web of patronage. He peppered the speech with his signature “heh, heh, heh” chuckle, once man-of-the-people ingratiating, now a tic belonging to an ingrate. Indeed, Daily Maverick’s Greg Nicolson captured him stifling just such a chuckle when Julius Malema, his wayward son, was physically accosted by the Men in Black.
It will go on historical record that the president of this country giggled as he played at being Don Corleone.
But who is Jacob Zuma? He used to say, in the heady days of late December 2007, just as he won complete power in Polokwane, that he was an empty vessel and the ANC members should fill him with ideas. Today, he is an empty vessel filled with power, existing for the sake of that power, empty of everything except power. He cannot “come to his senses” because he no longer has senses; he cannot “wake up”, because there is nothing to wake up to except the absoluteness of his power. He cannot manoeuvre politically, because he long ago made his last move to shore up his power absolutely. He is the single most dangerous leader this country could possibly have had, because he has nowhere to go—he may have spun his web of patronage, but he is caught in it too, seemingly until the end of days. So he cannot work within reality, but must instead create a reality in which to work. Ergo, his SONA 2015, which was an act of universe building, and in turn the act of a man who works for power alone.
The DA, happily, also got what they wanted. They emerged looking like the sober opposition party in a state that is falling apart—when they walked out of the House, they did so in a “disciplined” fashion. I spoke with Mmusi Maimane a few days after SONA and he sounded genuinely disturbed by everything that had unfolded. He is one of the world’s great believers in institutions, and he was watching one crumble before his eyes. But what was he going to do about it? “While this family feud goes on between Zuma and Malema, we don’t focus on anything else,” he complained. “The most vital issue here is how do we strengthen Parliament to do its job? When President Zuma fails to address a sitting, the Speaker has to deal with that! When she instructed police to enter the chamber, it becomes dangerous. It can only escalate violence within the chamber—and we have to ask for a judicial intervention.”
Ah, yes, judicial intervention. And with the entire judiciary present for the proceedings, it would be nice to know who is going to hear such a case, given that the recusals will fall like so many MP austerity provisions. Which is a point Julius Malema made at his lively presser the day after he was worked over by the Men in Black. He was not sorry, he told us, about his party’s behaviour. He would not back down. The EFF were justified in their right to ask The Question, and he was proud of the way he had outplayed his old masters. When I asked him how he hoped to assist in governing this country, considering that democracy is the dark art of co-operation, he gave a non-answer, which suggested that co-operation is not in his interests—which, of course, it manifestly is not. The EFF will not help govern, he implied. They will only disrupt.
So everyone emerged a winner, which is to say we all emerged losers. And Malema, undiminished by the violence, welcoming it even, used his assault as a punch line. “One of them was even obsessed with my balls,” he told us. “Pulling them, pulling!—I hope we’ll be able to still have kids.”
South Africa knew exactly how he felt.
And no one knew it better than the disparate punters at Twankey Bar. The mood was sullen, resigned, ragged, worn out. When I walked back over to Parliament after the violence had played out, the ambiance was similarly grim. It would only get worse as the days wore on. As reported in this newspaper, the men who took care of the EFF belonged to the Public Order Police (POPS), and had been training for this day for some time. One of the geniuses among their number posted details to his Facebook profile page—an example of the thugs upon whom the ANC have become so reliant—writing in Afrikaans, “To all the members of POPS Cape Town, I wish you strength and thank you for a helluva month. Particularly the guys in my platoon…Ps. Don’t worry, at some stage in the near future we’ll go back into Parliament for old Julius! LoL.” [One big sic].
LOL indeed. But what this really means is that the ANC has created a Republican Guard to protect the president and his people in Parliament—I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence when I point out that this is a mighty contravention of the Constitution. And the offences have just piled up. Addressing the ANC’s North West provincial conference on Saturday, Baleka Mbete noted that, “If we don't work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place.” Now, “cockroach” is a loaded word in the African context, given that in its Kinyarwandan iteration “inyenzi” was used to dehumanise Tutsis before they were slaughtered on an industrial scale in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
In the real world, Baleka Mbete never goes near the Speaker’s chair again. In the real world, she’s shuffling papers in the Kabul High Commission until she evaporates into history.
But this ain’t the real world. On Tuesday, the president is expected in Parliament to answer questions regarding a speech that no one heard. Will he show? At this point, that barely matters. That this country, under this system, cannot be governed without Parliament and the commissions, does not count anymore, because chaos has become the point. The prize is the wards on the other end of the 2016 municipal elections, and the country on the other end of the 2019 general elections. Disorder is the highest stage of order, which is another way of saying it’s a great campaigning technique.
And so I left the Parliamentary precinct to chase down another mini-riot, just before the president wrapped up his endless address. Zuma’s voice boomed from the speakers over deserted, rain-slicked Cape Town streets, his speech bouncing off buildings and echoed back at itself. In all this sonic recycling I could not make out one coherent sentence, one coherent policy, one small glimmer of hope.
“Heh, heh, heh,” I heard the president cackle, each fake laugh resonating like the fake mortar blasts that had borne him into the Parliament he had worked so long and hard to destroy. This was his big night. He didn’t flub a line. DM
Photo: ...The second the EFF MPs were driven out, there was a cheer from the ANC. And President Zuma, surrounded by his own security, chuckled. (Greg Nicolson)








Sunday, February 15, 2015

SONA2015: Confirmed – Public Order Police were involved in forcibly removing EFF MPs

No Fear No favour No white cops working undercover in Parliament.......?

Julian Rademeyer SOUTH AFRICA 14 FEBRUARY 2015  07:51


A Public Order Police officer, who appears to have played a leading role in forcibly removing Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and other EFF MPs from the State of the Nation Address this week, has boasted on Facebook of a “hunt for Juju” in the “once hallowed halls of Parliament”. Wearing a black Hugo Boss suit jacket, Captain Walter Prins led a phalanx of white-shirted “security forces” into Parliament on Thursday after they were instructed to forcibly remove Malema and two other EFF MPs from the House. By JULIAN RADEMEYER.

Daily Maverick identified Prins, 43, from a high-resolution photograph taken by the agency EPA. It clearly showed his security pass which designated him part of a “high risk” detail and stated that “WW Prins” was from “SAPS”, the acronym for the South African Police Service.

Photo: Special security police who will be on duty inside the National Assembly arrive for the opening of parliament ceremony and the president's State Of the Nation Address in Cape Town, South Africa, 12 February 2015. EPA/NIC BOTHMA. (Mr Prins is in the black suit, in front.)

Prins’s Facebook posts over the past six months raise disturbing questions about whether he and other members of the Cape Town Public Order Police (POPS) unit that he belongs to felt they had a blanket mandate to target Malema.
On 30 August 2014, just nine days after riot police wearing body armour and carrying riot shields and batons were deployed in Parliament for the first time, Prins typed out a Facebook post to his colleagues. “To all the members of POPS Cape Town,” he wrote in Afrikaans, “I wish you strength and thank you for a helluva month. Particularly the guys in my platoon…Ps. Don’t worry, at some stage in the near future we’ll go back into Parliament for old Julius! LoL.”
Then, on 20 September, Prins posted three photographs on his timeline of police in the foyer of the parliament building. The pictures appear to have been taken on 21 August as police entered the precinct. Prins can be seen in all three wearing a police uniform and riot gear. “In the once hallowed halls of Parliament, in a hunt for Juju LOL,” he wrote underneath.
confirmed pop august photo
This week Prins was at the head of the white-shirted “security forces” as they entered the House of Assembly and manhandled Malema and other EFF MPs. In photographs taken by Agence France-Presse, Prins can clearly be seen grappling with Malema,(Main photo, by AFP) and Shivambu (following photo, by Greg Nicolson)
floyd shivambu taken out
A Facebook page for “members, ex-members and friends” of the Cape Town Public Order Police unit later posted a video of the confrontation, remarking: “[I]n the news again! What a day it was!”
On Friday, Prins also posted a link to a YouTube video of the melee. “Good work tjom. That's what i want to see happing to poepol (sic) who think that Parliament is a circus,” a friend commented approvingly. 
Watch: Removal of EFF from SONA 2015. (Video by Ranjeni Munusamy)
Contacted on his cellphone on Saturday, Prins told Daily Maverick that he could say “absolutely nothing about Thursday evening”.
I can’t admit or deny anything,” he said when asked if he had been in charge of the police detail that clashed with the EFF. “We signed an oath [of secrecy]. I can’t tell you anything."
Asked about the Facebook posts, Prins said they were meant jokingly. “They are old posts that you’re talking about. You can see it was just between me and my friends.”
Asked if he had it in for Malema, Prins said. “No, no, no my friend. It is just the job. We are just doing our job.” DM

JACOB Zuma’s Presidency has taken on a particular flavour. Exposés of capricious political interference in important arms of the state such as the prosecuting authority, the police and the intelligence services have become commonplace: there is little shock factor left in the abuses of power and process committed by his friends in his name; and there is no parallel with any other SA president in the extent to which he has personally benefited from holding office.
Less often publicly aired is his devastating impact on the ANC. Under Zuma’s leadership the ANC president has become untouchable, insulated by a national executive committee (NEC) of men and women held in place by networks of patronage nobody dares undo. The senior leadership collective — a key feature of ANC organisational practice since the 1950s — has been relegated to the sidelines. Despite a succession of damaging scandals, Zuma therefore can’t be called to account.
The ANC shields him from public and parliamentary accountability in the belief that it is protecting the organisation it perceives to be under attack from a hostile media and an official opposition against its transformative programme. The ANC declined to be interviewed for this report.
But the bigger and more profound problem is that the ANC leadership collective has lost control of its president.
Over six years in power, Zuma has placed an array of acolytes in key positions, ranging from the cabinet and state-owned enterprises to the police and the national broadcaster, the SABC. Key individuals with a close relationship to Zuma are deployed as ministerial advisers in government departments. Their distinguishing feature is that they owe their loyalty to Zuma alone and use it to override government decisions and bypass the ANC.
Among outside observers — political analysts, investors who watch from afar, the business community and a growing number of citizens — the question on the lips of many is how long can the Zuma disaster go on?
It is these two mutually reinforcing trends — Zuma’s destructive hold on government and an immobilised ANC collective — and how the two unfold which holds the answer to how much longer he can survive.
How did we arrive at this point?
Zuma’s hold over government and state institutions is effected mostly through the appointment process. He uses his powers of appointment more cynically than his predecessors did, is less concerned by public criticism of his choices and is shameless about promoting his own agenda. He has extended his authority to make appointments beyond those allowed for in law.
The appointments of the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the commissioner of police, the heads of the intelligence services and directors-general of national departments are presidential decisions. The SABC board and chairman he appoints on the basis of "parliamentary advice".
Yet he has been notably active in picking individuals for the SABC and for boards of state-owned enterprises, which are under the authority of the minister of public enterprises, to be confirmed by cabinet. In the case of the SABC, he made sure the ANC committee on communications included Ellen Tshabalala on its candidates list. In the case of SA Airways he "advised" public enterprises minister Lynne Brown to retain Dudu Myeni; and at Eskom, he lobbied for Ben Ngubane to be named chairman.
The SA Revenue Service (Sars) is another example of this mode of operating. Previously, the minister of finance managed the appointment of the Sars commissioner, as set out in legislation. This time Zuma took an active role and the final announcement was made by cabinet and not the minister. Though three Sars insiders had been tipped for the job, the successful candidate, Tom Moyane, was a surprise to everyone. Moyane is a fellow ANC exile who, like Zuma, spent a good deal of time in Mozambique during the struggle against apartheid. He has little tax or finance experience and appears to have been biding his time until retirement at the state information & technology agency.
Zuma’s ministers have been complicit in expanding his powers of appointment by increasingly seeking his private approval before proposing new appointments at cabinet meetings. And the ANC has played its part. By establishing a convention that ANC subcommittees and its deployment committee have the right to a say over state hiring, all appointments have become subject to horse-trading.
A good example was the tussle over the Eskom chairmanship in December. The ANC preferred former Eskom executive and electrical engineer Pat Naidoo, while Zuma favoured his friend Ngubane. The impasse was settled by retaining the incumbent, Zola Tsotsi, despite the utility’s dismal performance under his watch.
Zuma’s appointments are also damaging because of the kind of people he chooses. They are seemingly plucked from obscurity. Police commissioner Riah Phiyega, for instance, was neither a policewoman nor accomplished in any other field; but she is known as an admirer of the president. Myeni was a schoolteacher from KwaZulu Natal who, after serving briefly on a regional water board, was catapulted to the top of the SAA board. The rationale for these appointments often emerges later — as the result of personal relationships, repayment for favours or simply a way to exert control over processes and institutions.
Also active in "advising" on appointments are the Gupta family, who are former Indian nationals and businessmen Zuma describes as his personal friends. Their influence over who gets chosen to serve on boards and management of state-owned enterprises is an open secret. The SA Communist Party, it seems, could stand it no longer when in a veiled reference to the Guptas it complained in a public statement in November that it "was concerned that private business had a direct hand in appointments into key positions within the state". But despite the embarrassing Waterkloof air force base incident (when a Gupta wedding party was allowed to land at the base), the ANC has been unable to chide its leader over his friends. Instead, Zuma has encouraged his ministers to get on with the Guptas and to take their calls.
When in 2011 the heads of three intelligence departments identified the Guptas as a threat to national security and decided to investigate the family, within 24 hours they were summoned by the intelligence minister, Siyabonga Cwele, and told to lay off. All three were subsequently offered new positions and, despite long-standing relationships of trust built with Zuma during the struggle, they left soon afterwards.
The brazenness of Zuma’s acolytes has taken the ANC and government by surprise. SAA chair Myeni openly defied an order from the minister of public enterprises to reinstate Monwabisi Kalawe, the CEO whom Myeni had unfairly suspended; SABC chair Tshabalala and chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng simply ignored ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa by refusing to stand down after being caught lying about their qualifications.
Though galled by such defiance, the ANC top leadership has been unable to do anything about it.
The reason lies in the composition of the NEC. Ahead of the Mangaung party congress in 2012, Zuma built a 70% majority, reflective of enormous ANC growth in KwaZulu Natal, and involving the majority factions in most of the smaller provinces as well as parts of the Eastern Cape. Mostly, the executive is held together by mutually reinforcing relationships of patronage. Provincial politicians with vested economic interests often owe their positions to lines of patronage both up and down the political chain.
A threat to Zuma would constitute a threat to the entire alliance and has no prospect of being entertained by a majority, no matter how compelling the motivations or the extent to which the ANC is being damaged and undermined.
Any attempt to undo the "interlocking patrimonial relations" in the NEC would be like "trying to unscramble the egg", says Nic Borain, political analyst at BNP Paribas Cadiz Securities. "The main feature of such an interlocked relationship is that it is embedded and difficult to unwind. The problem with proposing a mechanism that could dislodge Zuma, and with it the calcifying networks of patronage that spread out from him and his partners into all corners of the state and party, is the old one: who will bell the cat?"
So while it was possible to remove Thabo Mbeki when his imperial tendencies became too much for the NEC, today’s ANC is a different organisation.
The new politics of the ANC is classed as "neopatrimonial" by political scientist Tom Lodge of the University of Limerick and formerly at Wits University. The term refers to a political system legitimised by "reciprocal exchanges" between political actors and characterised by the "personalisation" of the exercise of power.
In neopatrimonial systems (Russia is a good example, says Lodge) officials use public power for private purposes, and political differences or internal competition feature large in the party not as ideological battles but as contests between groups based on personal loyalties.
Though the roots of such a trajectory were always present in the conservatism of the ANC in its early days, and later in its underground links with criminal networks, they were particularly brought to the fore by later developments, in particular, the conditions of post-1994 in which the acquisition of political office became the best route for personal wealth accumulation.
Though Lodge’s analysis implies this change in the ANC is permanent, "It has yet to become all-encompassing and does not constitute the entirety of the ANC’s internal life."
This is a significant point when looking at the ANC under Zuma. Though nobody is strong enough to act against Zuma, there are signs that a stealthy fight-back has begun.
At the ANC’s January lekgotla, at which the party looks at its programme for the year with a view to providing direction to government, Zuma and his proxies lost two key policy battles.
The first was the decision that set-top boxes for television will be manufactured with encryption software.
Though cabinet had taken a decision to this effect a year ago, Zuma effectively stymied it by replacing then communications minister Yunus Carrim with Faith Muthambi, a minister who has become known for her personal loyalty to Zuma. Muthambi had failed to implement the cabinet decision and was taken aback when ordered by the lekgotla to do so.
The reasons for blocking the decision relate to a range of business interests that have lobbied hard against it. These include ANC-aligned groupings who want a slice of the manufacturing action and big corporate interests with lots of cash to hand out.
At the lekgotla the ANC also found its voice on the restructuring of the electricity sector. Though Zuma had last year — at the urging of his energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson — promised to establish an independent system market operator, the ANC, which has ideological reasons for not wanting to dilute Eskom, has blocked it at policy level. And while the ANC’s wisdom on this matter has been debated in the context of the need to restructure the electricity sector, the decision is as much a sign of being fed-up at the bypassing of ANC policy by presidential sanction as it is ideological.
These small battles indicate that the pendulum could well swing back and that the impetus for change in the ANC will build.
For those who want to rescue the ANC, the important thing for them is to bide their time. No-one will be able to make a move for a new coalition before the 2017 national conference approaches.
At that point, as marginalised leaders and groups re-emerge, change could happen fast. The upside of this scenario is that it raises the possibility of a changing of the guard in the ANC in three years; the downside is little will change until then.
The damage that will be done to SA’s institutions and to the ANC itself by then will be more serious and put remedial action further out of reach.
For investors watching SA, there is little with which to be impressed. Structural economic reforms that are needed to revive growth have little chance of materialising.
"The view from outside the country is that there is a slow burn under Zuma," says Mark Rosenberg, New York-based Africa director for the Eurasia Group. "This administration doesn’t have the political will to reform the labour market and troubled parastatals but treasury and the SA Reserve Bank are still strong enough to ward off crisis. Zuma is too strong to be displaced by the ANC but too weak to move the country forward, so the status quo prevails until the ANC conference in 2017."
The fight-back in the ANC, when it comes, will be constrained by the changed nature of the party and its personalised and compromised politics. So even though the odds are growing that a new leadership clique may take the helm after 2017, the ability to reform the ANC will be severely curtailed.
Now read this: Zuma's economic policy: From a parallel universe by Peter Bruce