Mr. Zuma? You are a catastrophic figure of exceptional proportion.
There is no doubt I have in the past promised I would never write another open letter to you. However, recent events compel me to remind you of what you really are – a catastrophic figure of exceptional proportion, hell bent on imprinting tragedy to a beautiful country whose potential to be great in our lifetime you are castrating.
Mr. Jacob Zuma you are not a god but a President of a country founded on advancing a deliberative constitutional democracy. The cornerstone of this country – at least the one we aspire to not the nightmare you awaken us to each day – is a need to advance participatory decision making, accountability, transparency and responsiveness. As a citizen I expect all people entrusted with the responsibility of governance to adhere to these values, treating them as sacrosanct.
Your actions are not even remotely aspirational to the fulfillment and implementation of these values. So horrid they have been you have earned yourself many descriptions but the most apt is when Max du Preez called you ‘a one-man wrecking ball’. Decisions of our credible and trusted courts on some of your appointments and decisions have shown you to be an irrational leader. I no longer trust that you can ‘apply your mind’ to the benefit of our country. The manner in which your name is linked to scandalous, dubious and at times flagrantly corrupt deals within the state gives me no confidence that you can oversee the public purse for the good of this beautiful nation. The changes happening in state owned enterprises whether at board or executive
Your removal of Nhlanhla Nene as the Minister of Finance comes at the backdrop of great despondency with your leadership. Despondency cultivated by your arrogance, ignorance and gross negligence in handling the affairs of our country. Your fitness to hold office has always been in question and your actions have been a great confirmation for the skeptics. Public morality is said to have withered dramatically under your watch, the ubiquity of corruption and profligacy is frightening to citizens. Not even the beautiful sound of your singing voice – one competence of yours not in dispute – is succeeding to lull even the most ardent of supporters of the ANC not to criticise your disastrous leadership.
Previously I have written that you have become bigger than the ANC, it no longer has ability to rein you in, criticise you, condemn and even revolt against your actions that compromise and bring to disrepute the good name of the organisation. Many members have been intoxicated by the personality cult you have entrenched much to the detriment of the movement. Under your eladership the ANC has weakened both in electoral support and its moral standing in society.
You have been treated as a clown by many of those in the laughing industry of entertainment and have dragged along with you this once loved and almost unanimously respected ANC to the state of clownishness. Indeed the fish rots from the head and slowly your tenure as President has begun to eat away the very fiber that has formed the ANC into the gallant organisation it was before you took the levers of power. What you are now moving towards is asserting yourself as being bigger than the country itself. In part this was confirmed by your misguided statement that the ANC comes first, before the country to you. Therein you set the tone and line of march on how you view our beloved country and how you position ANC members and non-members in your list of priorities, forgetting that over 10 million of ANC voters are not members of the organisation. Such foolery.
Let it be known to you right now: You will never achieve that ambitious goal of becoming bigger than this country. Not under my watch and that of many other citizens who – despite their differences in approach – share one single vision and that is to see South Africa deliver on obligations of social justice for all its citizens. You have detracted enough this noble cause to be pursued – no more.
There are two options available to us citizens to remove just you from that haughty existence of yours that undermines this country, your cabinet and your organisation. You are a problem and you ferment an environment for problems to thrive. Getting rid of you from the prominent position you occupy in our national political landscape will not be an antidote to all our sicknesses but it will be an important first step towards recovery.
The first option is for ANC members to begin revolting against you and your coterie of factionalists that have captured the movement with thuggery and violence to assert its will. The ANC is no longer a reflection of a broad church; it is now a reflection of an unscrupulous band of thugs with no scruples. A band that is willing to maim, sideline and overlook anyone (no matter how credible) or anything (no matter how noble and desirable) that stands in their way to self-aggrandisement for the single purpose of lining their pockets and looting state funds. You have said this even in your speeches when ‘bemoaning’ the jostling for leadership positions in the ANC for the purpose of gaining proximity to state resources and not to serve the country.
In your own idiosyncrasy you think when you ‘speak heavy on corruption’ and other ills that beset the ANC we are foolish enough not to know that you are an intricate part and perpetuator of the very behaviours you speak against. We are not idiots; we have just not broken our silence enough for you to know. At times simply because we are deflated, dumbfounded and even perplexed you think that shallowly of us. You are affecting our sanity as you force us to make sense of the illogical and unreasonable.
If the ANC within its own democratic means – shoddy as they are – does not revolt against you and continues to defend you, we will be left with no choice but to lead a massive revolt against the very ANC. Listen, there will be no third force. If by third force we mean an element that seeks to distabilise our country and render it ungovernable and undesirable to live in; then there can be no third force greater than you. Your entire leadership has been one big third force against the functioning of the state as it should.
This is no threat, it is a promise. If the ANC fails to remove you from the prominent position you occupy in our politics, we will be left with no choice but to lead a concerted and vigorous effort to remove the ANC from the prominent position it occupies in our political landscape. What will not be allowed to happen is for you to transcend the nation and exist as a god that will subordinate the country under his authority.
You removed Nene for no apparent reason and you have not cared to give a reason. If the rumours that he will take a ‘prestigious’ position in the BRICS Bank, then such a move (seconded by you) was nothing but an inconvenient way to give him an exit. Nene surely has been a sore thumb in your ambitions to live large and lavishly implementing grand plans that have serious implications for our fiscal management. The disciplined and prudent management Nene was doing began to frustrate you. There are serious challenges that he had to reckon with and some are:
– The SAA Airbus deal that has pitted Treasury against the madness that is SAA Board chairperson Dudu Myeni, who enjoys great proximity to you.
– The proposed almost R1-trillion Nuclear build programme which you seem to have informally approved not caring much for its financial implications.
– The MTN scandal in Nigeria is one that Nene also had to contend with given that PIC has a majority stake in the company.
– The financial model for the National Health Insurance is also an important matter on the agenda of Treasury.
– The outcomes of the #FeesMustFall also needed Treasury’s attention after you agreed to a deal without even informing Treasury and asking them to do scenario planning, because your head is not fixed that way. Yes no fee increment in University fees was important but how you handle things administratively is appalling.
– Your close political ally (Bathabile Dlamini) has had ambitions to increase the child support grant to cover children until they are 23 years of age. Nene has had to keep putting brakes on such ambitions.
– There are the outcomes of the Davis Tax commission that will have serious implications for many industries and citizens alike if ever implemented and possibly even when not implemented.
– The R128 billion per year of debt servicing costs we were informed of during Nene’s medium term budget is indicative of how we are sinking in debt. During your tenure gross debt as a share of GDP has risen from about 31% in 2009/10 to almost 50% in 2015/16.
– The continued downgrading by credit rating agencies is a difficult reality because it increases our cost of borrowing – at a time we are continuously borrowing to fulfill some of these grand plans than care little for prudent fiscal management.
– Weakened commodity prices and a weakened Rand have also been some areas for Nene to consider, even though the latter falls more on the domain of monetary policy that is the mandate of the Reserve Bank.
With all these catastrophic concerns that are an offshoot of your poor leadership and governance, with some parts owed to externalities, you move to do the unthinkable – removing the Minister of one of few trusted government departments. While Rome burns you are fiddling. Instead of taking us into your confidence, you scrape the very little that remains. Instead of protecting Nene you throw him under the bus because the company you keep is such that it cares very little about how markets react and how fiscal discipline is managed. Your company only cares about achieving its ambitious goals of looting and thuggery with the state purse – all at the expense of all citizens, rich or poor.
You go on to appoint a novice, an inexperienced individual who lacks any gravitas on the issues of the economy and finance. We are now at your mercy, hoping that indeed David van Rooyen will not be a lapdog that panders to your whims and does your will, as the self-anointed god of this country. Hoping will not be enough; we need to act against you. Start preparing yourself for a revolt. Your actions have nothing with protecting the economy. Nhlanhla Nene walked into a den of lions, a baptismal of fire wherein the President is diametrically opposed to Treasury’s aspiration of fiscal discipline. You are a president unaffected by his own actions as he enriches his family and friends.
You and you alone are fast sinking us into the abyss of nothingness, of junk economic status. You have been out of your depth the longest time. Indeed you will continue to laugh at us as our disposable income further shrinks, as people are driven out of business (leading to higher unemployment) as import costs rise, as the deficit grows and your government gets forced to cut on public spending – affecting the viability and quality of our social institutions (e.g. education, health, social development, etc.).
You will laugh at why we are so upset by your flagrant disregard of all of us as citizens and your inability to arrest your appetites for carrying out thuggery with our state resources. Indeed you will laugh and charge we are being emotional. Of course we are emotional because you threaten our livelihood, our country’s sovereignty with all the debt dependency. You threaten the very foundations of our country and the noble aspirations we have for it. We are going to fight back, it might not be clear how but we will.
By Lukhona Mnguni