South Africa is still trying to bounce back following last week's debacle which saw President Jacob Zuma make one of the biggest tactical errors of his political career. Zuma shuffled through three Finance Ministers in the space of four days, an irrational move which caused major consternation both nationally and abroad. The results included the South African rand plummeting, a dramatic drop in investor confidence and South Africa's #Government debt status coming dangerously close to a downgrade to junk status.
South Africans' frustration has now reached boiling point with Zuma, who is viewed as a corrupt, arrogant and self-serving leader who plunders the state coffers at will and has a blatant disregard for the welfare of the country and its citizens, many of whom live in abject poverty.
But Zuma's days may be numbered after this latest blunder. South Africans quickly sprung into action and mobilized themselves under the banner #ZumaMustFall, which has been trending across social media since the incident occurred.
— Leandri J van Vuuren (@Lean3JvV) December 16, 2015
Thousands across the country joined hands on Wednesday, December 16 in protest marches that called for the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa's ruling party, to remove the president from office. One protester issued an unequivocal warning to the government, "We put you in power and we can take you out!"
The ANC was blasé and brushed it all off in the way you'd swat at a gnat. Jessie Duarte, Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC, responded by saying, "If they wish to march, that is their right to do so. It is the way they have chosen to express themselves. We obviously don’t support their call at all, as the ANC.”
The ANC has stated that they do not see a reason to recall the president. In fact, the ANC has chosen to defend Zuma instead. “The president’s willingness to change deployment… demonstrated bold leadership bringing certainty and [assurance] to the finance portfolio,” Duarte told reporters.
It is well known that Zuma has surrounded himself with friends and cronies who occupy high-profile positions in government and state-owned enterprises, among others. By doing this, he has ensured his protection and now seems to be convinced that he is invincible. It is not the first time Zuma's actions have been questionable and damaging to the country. Yet, he has always gotten away with it, thanks to the strategically placed puppets that dance to his tune and will protect him at all costs. After all, protecting him is in their best interests - he lines their pockets.
But what Zuma and the ANC fail to consider is that, throughout history, many corrupt leaders, dictators and governments who also considered themselves untouchable met their demise. South Africans have previously overthrown the mighty apartheid government, who also thought it could never happen. What makes the ANC think it cannot happen to them?
It is clear that the public is angry and is no longer willing to tolerate this from Zuma's regime. In addition, even members of Zuma's own cabinet and fellow ANC members stood up to him this time. Not everyone in the ANC supports his behavior. This should be the wake-up call that makes Zuma realize his grip on power is not as iron-clad as he thinks. This disastrous episode may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for South Africa. This could be the beginning of the end for Zuma.