Zuma presidency was destined to go up in flames
President Jacob Zuma is clearly disorientated by the fact that his organisation has turned on him so badly
“We are being plunged into a crisis. My leaders will regret this. Some of my comrades may not like this.”
These ominous words from President Jacob Zuma rounded off an almost hour-long tirade on Wednesday afternoon in which he vented his bitterness at being recalled from office by the ANC's national executive committee, and revealed that he felt betrayed by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.
With his friends, the Guptas, finally beginning to face the consequences of capturing the state and his allies turning against him, Zuma was wounded, isolated and under pressure.
Then, just before 11pm on Wednesday, Zuma announced his resignation in a rambling address to the nation.
Earlier in the day, as the ANC moved the pieces in place to forcibly remove Zuma as president, he had made a surprise appearance on the SABC for a bizarre interview beamed around the world by major international broadcasters.Zuma said repeatedly during that interview that he had not been told what he had done wrong and did not know the reasons for his recall.
“I need to be furnished on what I have done,” Zuma said. “During discussions, I asked what the problem was, and why must I be persuaded to resign? And of course, the officials couldn’t tell me what I’ve done wrong.”
The ANC has been rather imprecise on the reasons for removing its highest deployee in the state, with its secretary-general saying at a media briefing on Tuesday that it was because the party wanted Ramaphosa to deliver the state of the nation address.
In terms of its constitution, the ANC does not have to provide reasons for recalling its public representatives. It is necessary now, though, because the ANC had gone to the wall for Zuma, defending his actions, covering up his scandals and shielding him from sanction.
Both Zuma and the country need to be told why the ANC made a sudden about-turn.
Zuma said during the earlier interview that the ANC had treated him unfairly, adding he also could not understand why it was in a “hurry” to remove him.
“Some of the leaders, as they have been talking in the media, [said] that we don’t need two centres of power. That is not a reason, because there are no two centres of power ... I don’t think they know exactly what they are talking about.”
“I felt I am being victimised here,” Zuma said.
For the first time, the world became privy to the behind-the-scenes shuttling and negotiations to convince Zuma to step down. It was this process that led to his rage with Ramaphosa and refusal to step down voluntarily.
In the earlier interview, Zuma said he and Ramaphosa had agreed there would be a six-month handover process during which they would foster unity and he would “introduce” his successor to his “colleagues and friends” in Brics, the African Union and SADC.
That would show they were working together and that he was not being “elbowed out”, Zuma said.But, he said, when the ANC officials returned to talk to him, they were “in a different mood” and would only accept one part of the package of demands he had made – that he should step down.
He also said he was concerned about violence being perpetrated as a result of the ANC’s actions.
Zuma was clearly disorientated that his organisation had turned on him so badly and was trying to reignite the sympathy that had carried him to the presidency when he was fired as deputy president in 2005.
But he could also have more up his sleeve. Having warned that his comrades might live to regret booting him out, Zuma could be trying to instigate a fight-back in the ANC or a breakaway movement to punish the party for cutting short his presidency.
Zuma was integrally involved in negotiated peace in KwaZulu-Natal. Perhaps his subliminal threat means that he can restart what he stopped.
The Zuma presidency was destined to go up in flames. It seems the man himself did his best to ensure it ended in a raging inferno.