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Jacob Zuma Has 'Raw Political Power'

by Pieter du Toit - Deputy Editor, HuffPost South Africa
30 Nov 2016 at 11:58hrs | Views
President Jacob Zuma has "raw political power" and used it to good effect to snuff out any opposition to his continued leadership as head of state.

Furthermore, there are now only two realistic scenarios for the foreseeable future: a continuation of the status quo or a scorched earth strategy by Zuma.

This is the analysis of Peter Attard Montalto, an analyst at the investor Nomura in London. He warns investors in a research note released after the weekend's extended meeting of the African National Congress' (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday to not underestimate the Zuma faction's influence and power, and conversely not to overestimate the reformists' standing.

The NEC rejected a call by senior Cabinet ministers, led by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and supported by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, for Zuma to step down as president. The party's highest decision-making body also affirmed their support for Zuma as leader of government and party. "There is no question of support for him," Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the ANC, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

"Zuma has, as expected, survived the recall attempt. He is somewhat weakened but this should not be overplayed — he clearly retains a significant degree of raw political power in our view," Montalto argues.

Zuma will survive until a managed exit in the first half of 2018 after the ANC's elective conference, and Montalto believes it will be thanks to the cohesiveness of the Zuma faction.

Montalto writes: "The key events in the next two months now are a potential Cabinet reshuffle (excluding Gordhan's exit), resignations from the Cabinet (unlikely, we think), ANC rebels in Parliament backing a no-confidence vote (this may take place but we doubt it would succeed) and then an NEC meeting in January where there could be another attempt to unseat him (but again, we would expect this to fail)."

Nomura is advising investors that the political status quo will continue, "and that it will be damaging to the economy".

"Markets do not care. They have become tired of the volatility and trying to trade this narrative."

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said the defeat of the motion of no-confidence showed up the "naïve belief" that the ANC can "self-correct".

"It quite clearly shows the ANC supports Zuma, and support him fully. Zuma is not an anomaly in the ANC, he is the norm: he is only the most vivid manifestation of what the ANC has become — an irredeemable and toxic mix of corruption, cronyism and nepotism."