Destructive Zuma busy hollowing out the Beloved Country

South African President Jacob Zuma’s misrule has gone mainstream.

In its Christmas edition, the world’s most prestigious business journal, The Economist which is published out of London, devoted a couple thousand words to the destructive force from Nkandla who threatens to derail South Africa’s democracy.

Headlined “The Hollow State”, the magazine delivers a brutally honest assessment of Zuma’s disastrous management of South Africa, describing him as possessing a “pre-capitalist notion of power….he just can’t understand why he can’t have access to state resources”.

The lengthy article could hardly reach a more damning conclusion: “The challenge for democrats will be to protect the independence of the courts and what remains of other institutions. Mr Zuma has shown an inclination to wreck them. Unless checked, the danger is when he goes, he will leave only the husk of a democracy behind.”

The Economist’s comprehensive look at South Africa under Zuma was sparked by the events of December 9 when Zuma decided to install backbencher David van Rooyen as Finance Minister in what the magazine describes as “an attempt to capture the Treasury”.

Its millions of influential readers around the world are told:

South Africa is a country where cronyism and corruption are out of control, causing a “hollowing out” of the State with Government procurement “riddled with graft”.The ANC’s disastrous cadre deployment policy within State Owned Enterprises like Eskom, the railways and harbours, have chopped two percentage points a year off annual economic growth.As a result of the Zuma Administration’s wanton overspending, the country’s debt has climbed from 26% of GDP in 2008 to almost 50% today – much of it to fund a public service staff complement that risen in size by a quarter in the past decadeZuma is also on a mission to use the considerably power of the SA Presidency to destroy the last two bulwarks of democracy – the courts and SA’s “vibrant free Press”.

Confirming what former Oxford don RW Johnson warned in his masterful bestsellerHow Long Will SA Survive. the magazine says: “Without a change in course further (credit rating) downgrades are likely. The ensuring selloff would probably send interest rates soaring and force the country to ask for an IMF bailout.”

The golden thread running through The Economist’s withering attack is how the very values which the ruling ANC fought so hard to instill after coming to power in 1994, are now being systematically dismantled by Zuma.

Partly because of what ANC members had suffered, when assuming a Governing role the party “enthusiastically supported” limiting the power of the State. Most importantly, the security forces were overhauled and the Judiciary made subordinate to the Constitutional Court whose primary objective was the protection of human rights.

As a result, the magazine continues, South Africa shamed many more developed democracies with, for instance, abolishing the Death Penalty in 1995 and the next year becoming one of the first nations on earth to legalise gay marriage.

Under Zuma, however, that has all changed where the ANC’s “wariness at untrammeled State power has turned into frustration at checks on it.” The ruling party, it adds, is “undermining the same democratic institutions it fought so hard to establish” – the National Prosecuting Authority and Independent Electoral Commiss1ion cited as examples.

The Economist concludes that although the ANC is likely to lose its majority in next May’s municipal elections in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth, “Mr Zuma will probably hang onto power until his second and final term expires in 2019, unless a crisis prompts the ANC to replace him with his able deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.”


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