Cape Town – When President Jacob Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister it changed the course of history for him and most probably for South Africa too, according to political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi.
Speaking at an investment roadshow hosted by Sanlam Glacier on Monday morning, Matshiqi said Zuma had more power on the day before he dismissed Nene than he has at present.
“Days after December the ninth, Zuma breathed life into Pravin Gordhan (who at that stage was a minister of local government) just as Jesus breathed life into Lazarus,” said Matshiqi.
On December 9 2015 Zuma replaced former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with little-known ANC backbencher Des van Rooyen. The rand crashed through the R15/$ level when the news broke and continued on a downward spiral for six consecutive days.
This compelled Zuma to reappoint former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and move Van Rooyen to the local government portfolio.
“What people in power must remember is that one decision can change the course of history – just like the course of history changed for former president Thabo Mbeki when he fired Zuma in June 2005 from his position as deputy president of the country,” Matshiqi said.
But although more and more people – including some ANC stalwarts – are demanding that Zuma step down, it will not be so easy to get rid of him, Matshiqi said.
“Zuma hasn’t lost control over the ANC like Thabo Mbeki. Zuma is still the sitting president of the ANC, which means the national executive committee of the ANC cannot recall him. The ANC needs to call a special conference to do that.”
Matshiqi added that Zuma did not make the mistake of losing control over the ANC like Mbeki. On the contrary, he made sure that he remains in control of the security establishments, such as the National Prosecuting Authority.
He did point out though that Zuma’s fortunes may change after the local government elections on August 3. “If the ANC perceives Zuma to be a liability, they will act.
“When people inside the ANC are beginning to think he’s a liability and he has become a threat to their self-interest and their ability to eat, they’ll recall them. Until that point, nothing will happen to him.”
Matshiqi is of the view that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would not be the first choice to succeed Zuma. The ANC will probably vote for Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma (president of the African Union) to make sure the patronage networks remain intact.