News / Opinion

Austil Mathebula
3 minute read
30 Mar 2017
2:21 pm

Karma’s fires come for Zuma, fire pool or no fire pool

Austil Mathebula

The president is now facing a fight within and without the ANC.

At the height of the Nkandla debacle, there was a debate over whether the big, sparkly-blue HTH-advert-like pool at his homestead was a swimming pool or a “fire pool”.

A fire pool would basically mean it had to be a source of chemically treated water to be used for firefighting purposes. Considering Nkandla is in a rural area where there presumably isn’t enough water to extinguish big fires in case of emergency, such a repository could prove useful.

Obviously, despite demonstrations by trained firemen to the contrary, it did not qualify as a security feature because it’s really just a swimming pool, paid for on the taxpayer’s dime. While the pool’s critics offered denotative descriptions of what a swimming pool is, its exponents brought numerous ‘Nkandlatative’ descriptions of this controversial body of water in the KZN hills.

But let’s not worry about the intended purpose of the pool, because political developments around Zuma’s ailing political career also provide us with a figurative purpose for the pool – the ramifications of which could see the president soon leaving office in keeping with the wishes of late anti-apartheid activist and ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.

Kathrada, who instructed that Zuma not address people at his funeral, was “worried” about Zuma’s track record as head of state, not least of which included his shenanigans around Nkandlagate, Nenegate and Guptagate. In his letter, the Rivonia trialist appealed to Zuma “to submit to the will of the people and resign”. But as expected, Kathrada died without getting a response from the president.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe then took to the stage at the funeral to remind Zuma of Uncle Kathy’s letter. This he did to an audience that rose in applause.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who’s in Zuma’s firing line, also shed a tear when he received a standing ovation at the funeral. Gordhan might face expulsion by the president, who EFF leader Julius Malema alleges (and most of us agree with him on this one) Zuma wants to sack so the president’s friends, the infamous Gupta family, can have complete access to National Treasury and “accumulate a lot of money before the president leaves” office in 2019.

The SACP confirmed today that Zuma informed them of his intention to replace Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Bloomberg also reported on Thursday that, according to four sources they had spoken to, about 12 ministers in Cabinet have considered resigning from their jobs in protest, should Zuma fire the finance minister.

Members of the executive, who include Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and some deputy ministers, apparently also plan to keep their seats in Parliament to push for Zuma’s removal as the country’s president.

Malema will on Thursday deliver a court application to the Constitutional Court to order the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete to institute impeachment or disciplinary proceedings against Zuma “for conduct associated with the Nkandla scandal, including lying to Parliament on numerous occasions”.

This time around the ANC may not stick together as it’s done on all other occasions. It may finally do the right thing and use the power of government to achieve what the ruling party itself has never been able to do – to send Zuma to ponder his legacy next to his fire pool.

What’s intriguing is not the controversies surrounding the president – as we all know he’s a man who’s always surrounded with controversy – but the swell of public outcry.

The president is now facing a fight within and without the ANC.

His own conduct is now threatening to scorch him in a blazing furnace of recrimination he won’t be able to extinguish using water from any pool, regardless of what we call it.

All the same, the man remains the ultimate survivor and may yet survive even this. What matters more, though, as it has for many years, is whether the rest of us can continue to survive him.

Senior content producer Austil Mathebula

Senior content producer Austil Mathebula