By John Chimunhu|
Now Daily Analysis|
The messy brawl that rocked the South African parliament last week is a sign of a much bigger problem. That the incident made the world’s headlines is no surprise. Who could expect the embattled president Jacob Zuma to sink to such Robert Mugabe-style brutality in front of the international media? As Now Daily reveals exclusively elsewhere, the assault on Julius Malema was planned a long time ago by the African National Congress government led by Zuma, who is also party president.
Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu may belong to a neurotic fringe, a one-issue political party propped up by funds and voters from Mugabe’s Zanu PF in Zimbabwe. But they certainly made a point – and touched a raw nerve with the authorities as they focussed renewed attention on Africa’s biggest problem: CORRUPTION.
Zuma’s name has been associated with several high-profile cases of corruption, sexual indiscretion and abuse of power, including Guptagate, since he was vice president under Thabo Mbeki. He was implicated in the multi-billion dollar submarine tender fraud in which his business partner Shabir Shaik went to jail. Zuma got no protection from Mbeki, who seemed to want to see him go down and pay politically for his crimes. This is seen as a reason for Zuma’s new toughness. After all, despots everywhere cover up their corruption by being brutally violent.
The Nkandla scandal represents a new low in Zuma’s corruption-riddled career. He ordered the diversion of tens of millions of rand of state funds to upgrade his rural home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. This has become the rallying cry of the opposition, which wants him to pay back. The decision by the speaker of the SA parliament, Baleka Mbete to call in the riot cops was a blatant violation of the constitution, which caused the opposition Democratic Alliance and others like Bantu Holomisa and Cope members to walk out in protest. That the speaker could call in the riot cops to clobber MPs right in front of television cameras is a lesson copied straight from the Zanu PF manual. The reasoning is this: as long as we achieve our immediate aims, we dont care about the rest of the world. That is fantastic thinking if you are Robert Mugabe and can run your country like Animal Farm. But South Africa is a complex economy which can not function on menial aid from third world countries like China. What Zuma should have avoided is the inconvenience of having to deal with nuisance types like Malema in such a brutal and public way.
Corruption, as represented by the Nkandla episode is truly the root of Africa’s economic malaise. No amount of whitewashing, or savage beating of peaceful protesters like the EFF MPs, will take away the long-term effects of graft. As Zuma demonstrated last week, repression is a crucial hallmark of a corrupt leadership.
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