The peremptory removal of Pravin Gordhan from the critical post of finance minister has widened the existing cracks within the ruling ANC and President Zuma finds himself under increasing pressure from within and without. How long can be hold out, wonders Tom Nevin.
President Jacob Zuma has been uncharacteristically quiet these past weeks. Normally, not a day passes without the South African premier holding forth on some issue or the other.
More pressing matters are undoubtedly weighing on his mind. And so they should: never before in the post-'94 democratic election era has a South African political leader been as embattled, and bastions of the African National Congress (ANC) and their acolytes been as compromised.
In recent times, observers have pondered whether or not Zuma would even survive the months remaining before the elective party conference in December this year. Cracks in the ANC edifice that in the past have quickly been pasted over are these days too wide and numerous for a quick patch-up job.
The parlous state of the ANC has sparked a call for unity, so that more level thinking can prevail and some of the mistakes of the recent past can be undone and action be taken to staunch the knock-on effects.
Some senior ANC members say the sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy were to blame for South Africa's investment-grade credit rating being relegated to junk status by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, costing the country billions of rands in investment, equity and bond losses.
High cost of Gordhan removal
The latest ricochet effect of Gordhan's removal was the withdrawal from South Africa of the giant motor vehicle manufacturer, General Motors. The US company has been part of South Africa's industrial and social fabric since 1928. It is represented by a network of dealerships in virtually each city, town and hamlet countrywide.
The heaviest cost of GM's pull-out is the loss of 2,000 jobs, at a time when around 26% of the national labour force is unemployed. The shock withdrawal will add to the steadily rising call for Zuma's resignation, as will the latest revelations about his and some of his ministers' dealings with the Indian Gupta family, involving billions of rands.
Such shenanigans have earned Zuma the appellation of "the India rubber man", to describe the way he bounces from one calamity to another.