The last nine months of Jacob Zuma’s rule as president of the governing African National Congress are proving tumultuous.
Cabinet culling and reshuffles, their connections to private business interests, and tensions around large contracts such as the nuclear deal and the distribution of social grants are all heating up.
At the same time normal rules of polite engagement within the ANC have evaporated.
Emotional intelligence has gone by the board. For the first time, newly appointed ministers were not summoned to the presidential residence.
They were told of their appointments by phone. The dismissed ministers fared even worse.
Even senior cabinet ministers didn’t merit a call but learnt of their dismissal from the media.
Zuma’s actions suggest he considers his position within the ANC stronger than it was 15 months ago when he backed down over Nenegate to dismiss, within days, the man he’d appointed as finance minister.
This time he’s not backing down over new finance minister Malusi Gigaba.
But how strong is his position really?
The latest backlash against Zuma and demands for his resignation go wider and deeper than before.
When funerals turn into political rallies – think ANC stalwarts and liberation struggle heroes Makhenkesi Stofile and Ahmed Kathrada) – it’s a surefire sign of rebellion on the march.
Zuma is now left with a shrinking core of hardline supporters within the ANC.
Given his uncanny ability to outvote, outflank, and outmanoeuvre his opponents and rivals, it’s quite possible that he will retain his position as president of the ANC until his terms ends in December.
He might even hold onto the job as president of the country which would, under normal circumstances, end after a general election scheduled for 2019.
Zuma was swept into power in 2007 by a coalition led by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Now both have called on him to resign.
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