18 Jan

S. Africa Moves to Tackle Corruption as Zuma Loses Influence

South African prosecutors moved to freeze the assets of suspected allies of the politically connected Gupta family more than a year after the nation’s top graft ombudsman outlined the depth of state looting in the country.

The National Prosecuting Authority is targeting U.S.-based consultancy McKinsey & Co. and South African financial services firm Trillian Capital Partners Pty Ltd. for what it says was unlawful work for the state power utility.

It’s expected to be the first of many moves to tackle corruption more broadly. Trillian used to be majority-owned by an ally of the Guptas, who were accused by former Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela of wielding undue influence over the government to make money.

The three Gupta brothers, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and in business with one of his sons, are alleged to have used those relationships to win contracts from state companies and influence government appointments. They and the Zumas have denied wrongdoing.

The NPA’s move “is good news, because people were becoming despondent as nothing was being done about corruption in the country,” Madonsela said by phone on Wednesday. “I hope that the bad guys will be taken to task and that people will start thinking twice before engaging in corrupt activities.”

The court filing by the NPA was made just two days before South Africa’s ruling African National Congress elected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader, picking him over Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa, 65, is now on track to become the country’s next leader and has promised to fight corruption as one of his main priorities, helping the rand rally by almost 6 percent against the dollar since his victory. The currency was little changed at 12.3099 per dollar by 7:23 a.m. in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“Ramaphosa has enjoyed a warm welcome by capital markets,” Adrian Saville, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Cannon Asset Managers, said on Wednesday. His “point of departure is rooting out corruption and purging the malicious agents of state capture. The steps taken by the NPA are pivotal to restoring the institutional credibility that has been decimated under Zuma’s presidency.”

To read the full article, click here.

10 Jan

South Africa’s Zuma Says He’ll Name ‘State Capture’ Commission

South African President Jacob Zuma said he would appoint a commission of inquiry into allegations that the Gupta family was allowed to influence state decisions and that he would abide by a court ruling for the Chief Justice to select its leader.

The High Court in December rejected Zuma’s arguments that he alone can set up the commission and ordered him to pay the cost of the case. While the president has appealed the cost order and the judgment regarding the duties of the president to appoint commissions, he said in a statement on Tuesday he is taking further legal advice on this.

“I am concerned that this matter has occupied the public mind for some time now and deserves urgent attention,” Zuma said. “The allegations that the state has been wrestled out of the hands of its real owners, the people of South Africa, is of paramount importance and are therefore deserving of finality and certainty.”

Zuma’s about-turn comes a day before the new top leadership of the ruling African National Congress meets for the first time on Wednesday. A proposal to order Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 will be discussed at the gathering in the city of East London, according to three people who spoke on condition of anonymity. Zuma’s scandal-tainted tenure has eroded support for the ANC and he lost control of the party to his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, at an elective conference last month.

‘Political Interference’

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in November 2016 that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should appoint the head of the inquiry because the president had a conflict of interest. Mogoeng has selected Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Zuma said on Tuesday. Zuma didn’t say who the commission’s other members will be.

Madonsela had ordered the inquiry into allegations that the Guptas may have influenced the appointment of cabinet members in Zuma’s administration and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and one of the president’s sons. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

“The commission is a step towards ridding the country of corruption, and must do its work without delay,” Mmusi Maimane, the head of the main opposition Democratic Alliance said in a statement. “It must be properly staffed, fully funded and free from any and all political inference.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-09/south-africa-s-zuma-says-he-ll-name-state-capture-commission

09 Jan

Zuma to Face Ouster Bid at South African ANC Meeting

South African President Jacob Zuma will face a fresh bid to force him from office when the ruling African National Congress’s top leadership meets this week for the first time since he relinquished control of the party to his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

A proposal to order Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 will be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee in the southern city of East London, according to three members of the panel who spoke on condition of anonymity. Zuma’s scandal-tainted tenure has eroded support for the ANC.

The NEC’s 86 voting members are divided into two loose factions — one that backed Ramaphosa, 65, to take over as party leader at the ANC’s national conference last month and another that’s allied to Zuma and favored his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

Ramaphosa won the contest with just 52 percent of the vote, giving him a tenuous hold over the party, and it remains unclear where exactly the balance of power lies within the panel, which usually takes decisions by consensus.

“Given Cyril Ramaphosa’s emphasis on renewing the ANC, doing things afresh, it makes all the sense that the matter should be a priority agenda issue,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone.

“If it is raised and the motion is defeated, then that is a serious worry. It would be indicative that he does not have everyone behind him. It would make him a very weak president.”

Graft Charges

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Zuma, 75, took office in May 2009 just weeks after prosecutors dropped graft charges against him. He’s spent years fighting a bid by opposition parties to have those charges reinstated and fending off allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family to influence cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts.

To read the full article, click here.

08 Jan

“If Zuma gets immunity, we will take Ramaphosa to court” – Julius Malema

Julius Malema made it clear that Zuma must face his day in court, during an eventful interview with Energy FM on Monday.

The future of Jacob Zuma is very much up in the air right now. He remains the President of South Africa, but no longer rules the roost in the ANC. So no wonder the subject of ‘immunity’ is being talked about.

As Cyril Ramaphosa tries to put his stamp on party leadership – whilst his predecessor remains Head of State – there is already a perfect recipe for a power struggle in the works. Cyril’s authority will remain undermined until he assumes direct leadership.

Rumours of Jacob Zuma leaving his role as President have begun to surface. There is a growing belief he will be forced out, to allow Mr Ramaphosa the maximum amount of time to salvage the ANC’s damaged reputation ahead of the 2019 elections.

Will Jacob Zuma be granted immunity?

However, as Julius Malema is now saying, any deal to step down before his term ends would see Jacob Zuma seeking immunity from criminal charges. That doesn’t exactly sound like the actions of an innocent man, does it?

In a lively interview with Energy FM this morning, Malema discussed everything from the future of the ANC to land reform policies. As ever, Juju was in fine form, and issued a stern warning for the party’s new President:

“I’ve lead the charge against Zuma, and lead the calls for his resignation. We’ve mobilised ANC MPs to vote against their own president. Our work against Jacob Zuma even influenced the 54th ANC Conference. Had he not been exposed, the ANC would have elected Dlamini-Zuma. She would have allowed the Guptas to carry on.”

“The ANC won’t keep Zuma in a job for very long. Serious discussions are happening. He’s seeking immunity for himself, plus his sons Duduzane and Edward. There’s no law in SA that allows such nonsense. If Cyril gives him immunity, we’ll take them to court. They’ll declare it illegal, and he will be charged.”

Julius Malema has very much positioned himself as the scourge of the ANC. Far from just being anti-Zuma, The EFF leader declared the ANC as being a ‘sick party’ that has no chance of recovery. He really isn’t buying into their ‘new year, new us’ narrative.

Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/if-zuma-gets-immunity-we-will-take-him-to-court-julius-malema/

28 Dec

Rand Extends Comeback as Traders Anticipate Ramaphosa Presidency

It’s taken South Africa’s rand exactly nine months — and a new ruling-party leader — to claw back the losses it suffered after President Jacob Zuma unexpectedly fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in March.

The rand gained as much as 1.8 percent on Wednesday to 12.2889, erasing its losses since Gordhan’s dismissal and the highest since July 2015. Gordhan’s dismissal sent the currency plunging 11 percent in two weeks and sparked a credit-rating downgrade to junk.

The rand has rallied more than 6 percent since Cyril Ramaphosa, who has pledged to revive the struggling economy and stamp out corruption, was elected leader of the African National Congress on Dec. 18. That set the billionaire businessman on a path to take over from Zuma as the country’s president. Investors are betting that may happen sooner than 2019, when his term expires, according to Legal & General Investment Management Ltd.

“The market is positively surprised by the increasing amount of support that Mr. Ramaphosa is rallying behind him,” Simon Quijano-Evans, an emerging-market strategist at Legal & General, said by email. “He is likely to continue doing so, increasing speculation about another no-confidence motion in the presidency in 2018.”

Members of the ANC’s newly elected executive committee will meet Zuma to advise him to step down in favor of Ramaphosa, Johannesburg’s City Press reported on Dec. 24, citing unidentified people. Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was backed by the president, to the top ANC position in a closely contested vote.

Flows into South African stocks and bonds have soared since the vote. Foreigners bought a net 6.4 billion rand ($516 million) of debt and 13.4 billion rand of equities in the week ending Dec. 22, according to JSE Ltd. data.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-27/rand-extends-comeback-as-traders-warm-to-ramaphosa-presidency

19 Dec

Scarred South Africa Turns to Mandela Favorite

Cyril Ramaphosa wiped tears from his eyes moments after his election as leader of South Africa’s ruling party — a reflection of his arduous journey to the pinnacle of power and possibly of what lies ahead.

Many South Africans are relieved at the prospect of one of their brightest political minds possibly replacing the scandal-plagued president, Jacob Zuma. But the final step won’t be easy. To capture the presidency, Ramaphosa would need Zuma to step down voluntarily or to be ordered out by the fractious African National Congress.

And then there’s Zuma’s mess. The economy is moribund, one in four people are out of work, corruption riddles state institutions, and a divided ruling party faces a real threat of losing power in 2019 elections.

But don’t count Ramaphosa out.

The man who became the ANC’s top negotiator in talks to end apartheid is nothing if not resilient. After the party blocked his bid to succeed Nelson Mandela — even though he was Mandela’s preferred heir — he went into business to become one of the richest black South Africans. And just to win the ANC presidency, he had to beat Zuma’s candidate — his ex-wife — a feat few thought possible.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-19/scarred-south-africa-turns-to-mandela-favorite 

14 Dec

‘Make-or-Break’ Time for South Africa as ANC Chooses New Leaders

Almost a quarter-century after Nelson Mandela led the African National Congress to power at the end of apartheid and the world heralded the birth of the “rainbow nation,” South Africa stands at a crossroads.

As delegates of the ruling African National Congress meet this weekend to choose a successor to President Jacob Zuma as party leader, they face a clear choice: his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who favors the president’s push for “radical economic transformation” to redistribute wealth to the black majority, or his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s pledging to fight corruption and revive a moribund economy to cut a 28 percent unemployment rate.

The leadership conference comes as Zuma’s immersion in a succession of scandals is eroding the 105-year-old party’s support to such an extent that it’s now at risk of losing its majority in 2019 elections. The run-up to the vote by 5,240 delegates that’s scheduled for Dec. 17 and is too close to call has caused deep rifts in the ANC, weighed on the rand and nation’s bonds and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.

“What’s really at stake now is the future of South Africa, not just the ANC’s continued governance of South Africa — everyone needs to understand that,’’ David Makhura, the 49-year-old premier of the nation’s richest province, Gauteng, where an overwhelming majority of ANC branches back Ramaphosa, said in an interview Tuesday. “Even people who don’t vote for the ANC are hoping that we will make one move that will bring South Africa back on track.”

Support for the party slipped to an all-time low of 54 percent in last year’s municipal elections, from a peak of almost 70 percent in 2004, and it lost control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, to opposition coalitions.

Fifty-nine percent of 2,100 people who said they’d voted for the ANC favor Ramaphosa to take over as leader, while 19 percent backed Dlamini-Zuma, a computer-generated poll published this month by survey company RatePop found. The party will probably struggle to retain power in 2019 with her at the helm, according to the survey.

To read the full article, click here.

13 Dec

Zuma ordered to pay legal costs for attempts to stop state capture report

President Jacob Zuma has been told to cover the legal costs of his frivolous attempts to stop the Public Protector’s state capture report from making it to court.

The judgement, handed down by Justice Mlambo at Pretoria High Court, highlighted the ‘frenzy’ Zuma caused when he asked for an interdict of the PP’s report. It sparked as mass of counter-applications for all other major political parties. At the end of October, he abandoned the process.

Zuma must cover costs for state capture hold-ups

After wasting the court’s time by eventually abandoning his appeal against the state capture case, Jacob Zuma must now foot the bill himself. Which also means, the investigation into the state of capture is looking increasingly likely to go ahead without any further challenges.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela made a 2016 ruling that the ANC leader must face an inquiry into state capture, as details of his overly-cosy business relationship with the Guptas became public knowledge.

Madonsela’s decision meant that an investigation team would have to be chosen by a neutral party. However, Jacob Zuma wanted this particular detail reviewed, given that he’s the president and he argues it falls under his remit.

Will Zuma face a state capture inquiry?

After spending the best part of a year protesting, Zuma eventually withdrew his application two months ago. However, the reviews and legal processes had come at a great cost.

Judge Mlambo ruled out a ‘punitive costs’ punishment, as this would burden the taxpayer. Instead, he hit the President where it hurt: his wallet.

Judge Mlambo ruled out a ‘punitive costs’ punishment, as this would burden the taxpayer. Instead, he hit the President where it hurt: his wallet.

The fun hasn’t finished quite yet, though. JZ is also facing judgement day over who will be allowed to appoint an independent judge to lead the state capture commission of inquiry. Could it be double-trouble for Zuma? We’ll keep you all updated.

To read the full article, click here.

06 Dec

Why South Africa’s Leadership Race Is Wide Open

The race to lead South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is in overdrive. While current nomination tallies from the ANC’s branches indicate that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has the edge ahead of the party’s national elective conference that starts Dec. 16, its voting structure and procedures mean his main rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could still win. The victor is likely to become the country’s next president.

1. What’s at stake?

The ANC holds a national conference every five years to pick its top leadership. Because the ANC has held power in South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994, the winning candidates typically go on to top positions in the government. Jacob Zuma, the nation’s current president, won control of the ANC from Thabo Mbeki in December 2007 and took office in May 2009.

2. Why isn’t Zuma running again?

While the ANC’s rules don’t explicitly ban Zuma from running for a third term, they specify that the party’s leader must be its presidential candidate in national elections. The constitution limits the nation’s president to serving a maximum of two five-year terms, and Zuma’s time will be up in 2019. The party will probably be loath to bend the rules to keep Zuma on — his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded its support and cost the ANC control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, in last year’s municipal elections.

3. Who decides the ANC’s leadership race?

The 5,240 voting delegates who will attend the conference.The ANC’s branches will be represented 4,731 delegates. The incumbent leadership structures in the nine provinces will send 27 delegates each, the party’s national executive committee has 86 delegates and three leagues representing the youth, women and veterans have 60 delegates each. While the party has previously elected a president, deputy president, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general, chairperson, treasurer-general, it is considering proposals to enlarge its leadership structure, which would enable it to accommodate more members of competing factions.

To read the full article, click here. 

09 Aug

No confidence vote: a victory for Zuma, but a defeat for the ANC

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, overcame an eighth no confidence vote, despite the mountain of evidence of corrupt conduct

Jacob Zuma is a natural born political survivor. Yesterday South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, overcame an eighth no confidence vote, despite the mountain of evidence of corrupt conduct that has emerged in recent months.

But it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory – for him and most certainly for his party, the African National Congress (ANC). “Hollow” was the word that one opposition leader, Bantu Holomisa, used afterwards, while the Economic Freedom Fighter’s leader Julius Malema employed a well-known Africa proverb: “When you want to eat an elephant you do it bit by bit”.

Zuma’s political death is proving to be a protracted affair. There was an air of expectation yesterday that recent allegations of “state capture” – attested to by a welter of evidence from the so-called #guptaleaks – would be enough to persuade a sufficient number of the members of the ruling ANC to support an opposition-sponsored no confidence vote.

In the event, after a fractious two-hour debate scarred by ugly banter across the floor of the National Assembly, the motion fell short of the 201 votes required to remove Zuma and his cabinet. But yesterday was remarkably different. On the previous seven occasions that the opposition have tabled no confidence votes since Zuma’s power began in 2009, the ANC has remained steadfast in its support for its beleaguered president. Yesterday’s vote was a watershed for the liberation movement that brought an end to apartheid in 1994: around 30 of the 223 ANC MPs who voted yesterday sided with the opposition.

As the ANC’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, ruefully observed afterwards, this is true pause for reflection for the ruling party. Never before has such a significant number of the parliamentary caucus rebelled and defied the party whip.

Zuma’s streetwise political skills are well-known. So too is his adeptness at using executive patronage to secure the loyalty of party members as has been made clear in the revelations arising from his links to the Gupta family.

The secret ballot saga

But the back story to the unprecedented rebellion within his own party was the method of voting as much as Zuma’s political skullduggery. For the first time, parliament was compelled to allow MPs to vote in secret. This followed a legal challenge to the rules by Holomisa’s United Democratic Movement.

In its 22 June judgment, the Constitutional Court – an institutional beacon of excellence and integrity in the context of the “capture” of other state bodies – had held that the speaker of the National Assembly had the discretion to order a secret ballot in exceptional circumstances.

Since the ruling, a number of ANC MPs have gone public with testimony of intimidation and even death threats in the case of Makhosi Khoza. In turn, the ANC shot itself in the foot when one region of Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal, demanded that disciplinary proceedings be brought against Khoza after she had called for Zuma to go. The intervention served to underline the need to depart from the generally established principle of open voting.

Accordingly, speaker Baleka Mbete had little legal choice but to opt for a secret ballot, even though it would encourage dissenting voices among the ranks of the ANC caucus. Politically, she had probably done the political mathematics and, as the national chairperson of the ANC, was confident that regardless of the shield that she said was necessary to protect ANC MPs so that they could vote with their conscience, the numbers would still work out in Zuma’s favour.

And so it proved: 177 MPs voted for the motion, and 198 against (with 9 abstentions). Since the opposition has 151 MPs, at least three of whom were absent through illness, it means that that at least 29 and possibly as many as 35 ANC MPs jumped ship.

Win-win for the opposition

But it was a win-win situation for the opposition. Afterwards, in the unseasonably balmy winter’s evening outside the parliament in Cape Town, one after another of the leaders of the opposition spoke cheerfully about the political future and of the health of South Africa’s democracy.

They may have lost the battle, but they feel confident that they will win the war. After all, it is clear that Zuma is now their greatest electoral asset, with several polls (including the respected Afrobarometer), showing that across race and class, trust in Zuma has collapsed since he was returned to power for a second term in 2014.

Last year, the ANC suffered its first major electoral setbacks since the advent of democracy in 1994 when it lost control of three major city governments in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Now, its political management skills appear to be in disarray as factionalism and deep, painful divisions dominate internal party politics. This is all unfolding in the run-up to what is likely to be a bloody five-yearly national elective conference in December, at which the ANC will elect a new President of the party to succeed Zuma.

That may or may not mark the start of a new era of renewal for the ANC. But Zuma’s term as President of the country is only due to end in 2019. A lot more damage could be done to the country’s economy and its prospects for growth.

The consequence of that, however, is that the ANC will face the prospect of losing its majority at the national polls for the first time since Nelson Mandela’s historic victory in 1994.

Yesterday may have been a victory for Zuma. But in the longer term it is likely to come to be seen as a major defeat for the ANC.

 

Source from The Conversation