South Africa’s Political Turmoil
South Africa is undergoing political turmoil. Civil organizations and leading politicians in the country have called for the removal of President Jacob Zuma. This comes after a late night reshuffle of Zuma’s cabinet, which many had expected would happen. Key ministers such as finance minister Pravin Gordhan were axed and quickly replaced. Gordhan has stated that he learnt of his axing from news channels, as Zuma did not inform him of his removal. Jacob Zuma has built up a reputation of repeatedly firing key ministers and plunging the country into financial darkness.
Many believe that Zuma has reshuffled his cabinet in order to ensure loyalty from it’s members, as many have stood up against the president’s irresponsible decisions. Stocks tanked and millions were lost as news of the reshuffle broke. Standard & Poor’s, a company which publishes financial analysis, has declared South Africa as junk status, one of it’s worst ratings. This deters companies from investing in South Africa, which most likely spells major trouble in the long run.
Jacob Zuma is no stranger to controversy, and is connected to many political scandals.
Back in 2005 Zuma was charged with the rape of a HIV positive friend of his family. Zuma claimed that him taking a shower would prevent an HIV infection. The president was later acquitted, but there is still much controversy surrounding this scandal and whether he was truly innocent. Five years later Zuma accidentally fathered a child with his one of his close friend’s daughter. Zuma later apologized to his political party and the father of the daughter for his irresponsible behavior.
President Zuma has additionally been involved in many financial scandals. Zuma currently has 783 charges of corruption against him. In 2011 it was reported that Zuma had made major upgrades to his personal residence using tax payer’s money. What was most shocking is the fact that many of these upgrades were made to benefit Zuma instead of providing security. Additions included an amphitheater, a swimming pool and a cattle enclosure. Zumba has also made shady deals with the Gupta family, an Indian-South African family of businessmen. The Guptas have also had a major say in Zuma’s cabinet. Many have dubbed the Gupta’s control over Zuma and government as “State Capture”.
Surprisingly, these scandals only scratch the surface of Zuma’s severely flawed character.
Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main opposition party in South Africa, has repeatedly called for Jacob Zuma’s removal. “The President has once again shown that he has no interest in our beloved country’s future – or the nine million South Africans who are unemployed. He has bowed to the whims of those who are determined to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and jobless. This is an act of complete state capture”, said Maimane in a statement. Julius Malema, the leader of South Africa’s third largest political party has also lashed out at Zuma. He stated the following: “We have to try everything; we are in crisis and we’re trying everything to rescue this country.” Malema also spoke scathingly of new finance minister Malusi Gigaba:“Gigaba is corrupt to the core. We know there were serious allegations against him for having an offshore account and he hasn’t done anything to prove that he doesn’t have one.”
Marches from opposition parties have been planned all over the country for April 7 in order to protest Zuma’s failed leadership. Perhaps this will be a similar situation to what happened in South Korea with the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye. One will have to wait and see come Friday.