What is at stake for president Jacob Zuma? Why is he holding on to this position for dear life?
Zuma might be unpredictable in many ways, but the only certain fact about him is that he is not prepared to give up his presidency anytime soon.
I have never been surprised by the ANC defeating all the motions of no confidence that the Democratic Alliance has tried over the years in Parliament.
It simply would not make sense for a rival of the governing party to prescribe to it how to deal with its leader.
As the Economic Freedom Fighters correctly pointed out, the DA’s motions have only served to help the ANC close ranks and shield the president. Even those internally in the ANC who disapprove of the president will not allow the opposition to lead the way and claim the moral high ground. I don’t know if the DA can’t see this. Unless of course, they are less ambitious than to imagine their motion would succeed.
It might will be a card the DA are playing for the voters to remember that they have made an effort to remove Zuma. Or for history to record that they made a strong statement about this weak president.
However, if Zuma resists even fellow leaders in the national executive committee as well as Cabinet saying that he has overstayed his welcome, then clearly much more is at stake for him.
Let’s try to put ourselves in his shoes.
Often he himself and supporters make the point that he has never been convicted of any wrong doing and he is no dictator. They argue that the country functions just fine and the three layers of state operate independently and there are checks and balances.
And as for the Nkandla scandal, Zuma has repaid the money, so what is the problem now?
But these arguments make light of the the fact that Zuma has been scandal-prone, even before he became president. His conduct and character has affected the image of the oldest liberation movement on the continent.
Initially the ANC held the view that his “scandals” were the imagination of the media and his critics.
When he was twice returned to power in 2009 and 2014 with over 60% electoral support, they triumphantly mocked his enemies.
But with each election, the support was dwindling. This culminated in the outcome of the local elections that saw the party lose three big metros, a result that caught the party by surprise.
Zuma might believe that his unpopularity is fabricated and unreal and comes from enemies here and abroad, but he is wrong.
He has become a hugely divisive figure and his continued presence or installation of a proxy to succeed could cost the party dearly in 2019.
Remember when the ANC asked former president Thabo Mbeki to step down in 1998? He did that immediately and the heavens did not fall down. And the reasons for the recall were flimsy at best.
It is quite embarrassing to watch each time President Zuma goes to Parliament when he is called a thief, murderer et cetera.
Yet he holds on dearly to the position amid the open contempt. The office of the president has never been so disrespected and maligned.
But the truth is that he also hangs in there because there are sycophants who tell him he is doing a great job.
Like Napoleon’s dogs in Animal Farm who sniffed out enemies and attacked them, they specialise in identifying Zuma’s supposed enemies and trying to eliminate them from power.
They forget that even if they thought Zuma was the best ever leader of the ANC, in politics, the perception that he is the worst, has to be taken into account.
Future elections might just tell them a reality they refused to see.