The woes of President Jacob Zuma (pictured below) are increasing, to the point that insiders say he may not finish his second term "for health reasons". But when, "for health reasons", he retires quietly into the rolling hills of his controversial rural Nkandla home that cost $25m to upgrade to mind his chicken run, surrounded by his kinsmen, will the chickens come home to roost after the run? Pusch Commey explores the issues.
There is trouble brewing in the republic. The year 2014 promises to be an annus horribilis for President Jacob Zuma. He led the African National Congress (ANC) to a reduced majority in the general elections on May 7, which witnessed a drop in the ANC's share of the national vote from 65.9% to 62.15%. His nemesis, Julius Malema's party, the then eight-month-old Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) shot to fame with over a million votes, 6.35% of the tally and 25 seats in parliament. The official opposition Democratic Alliance increased their share from 16.7% to 22.23%.
Before and after the elections, opposition parties called for the head of the ANC-backed chairperson of the electoral commission, Pansy Tlakula, over allegations of corruption in a leasing scandal. Backed by the ANC, she resisted fiercely, until a ruling by the Constitutional Court forced her out of office in early September.
It will be the least of Zuma's worries. A crippling strike by the Association of Mine and Construction Workers Union (AMCU), which is hostile to the ruling ANC, threw the platinum industry into a tailspin, and tanked the economy, further exacerbating unemployment.
This has been a contributory factor in the collapse of the biggest unsecured lender in the country, the African Bank, triggering a downgrade of all the country's major banks by the international credit rating agency, Moody's.
Meanwhile, the 320,000-strong National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA), the biggest trade union affiliate of the ANC-aligned Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), has declared open warfare on the ruling party. It refused to support the ANC in the May election, threatened to form a new party, and has aligned with opposition forces to pile pressure on President Zuma.
To compound the president's woes, his decision to appoint Mxolisi Nxasana as the national director of public prosecutions, has led him into a cul-de-sac. In an attempt to reverse self-inflicted damage, on the basis that Nxasana did not have a security clearance, a legal war is looming as Nxasana has come out swinging all the way to the courts.
It does not bode well for the president, whose long-running skirmishes with the law have not reached a final conclusion. And if Nxasana wins, who knows what might transpire. Meanwhile he is still in office.
Zuma's sworn enemies, vocal amongst whom are the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the EFF, are gunning for his prosecution on some old...