You know that whole thing about how it was a bad idea for the ANC to get a two thirds majority in any election because then they could change the constitution? And that would be a bad thing because we have one of the most progressive, liberal and humane constitutions in the world?
Well, all the great stuff about human rights and equality notwithstanding, I’d like to point out that there’s a pretty big hole in our constitution – one that you could fly one of those jet planes through – and I for one would like it changed.
I am talking about the fact that under the Constitution, the president can only be dismissed from office by the National Assembly with a supporting vote of two thirds of its members, under the following conditions: a) a serious violation of the constitution or the law, b) serious misconduct or c) inability to perform the functions of office.
Now, when the lovely, enlightened men and women who sat down to write our constitution penned the bit about the two thirds requirement, I doubt that the poor, deluded fools had the necessary foresight to comprehend what might become of the ANC and our parliament.
I don’t think they fully reasoned through the fact that a president might, over the course of his two terms, populate parliament with ministers so corrupt and supportive of his misconduct that even when the highest court in our land found that he had been guilty of violating the constitution, they collectively responded, “meh, no biggie.”
Now, I am not naïve. I believe that there are still many good people in the ANC, but I also know that publicly speaking out against the most powerful man in the land when he also happens to be your boss is a tough call.
I believe that there is a great deal of politicking going on behind the scenes, and that people are talking about how this sorry mess can be brought to an ANC-face-saving conclusion sometime soon. I believe I am not alone in hoping that even among those who have been corrupted (and who are on the departed Gupta’s payroll), there are some voices who will put the party and the country ahead of the man.
But as much as I would like to continue to give them the benefit of the ever-decreasing doubt, it must be said that time is running out. There’s a point by which the ANC, if they haven’t acted, have given their tacit approval to Zuma’s actions.
For many, that point has passed. For people like me, who hope that there’s still a way out for our ruling party that doesn’t involve permanent international shame and local disgust, the time is now. It was probably two weeks ago, but I’m allowing a little room for politicking and advocacy. So, yes, all of this “behind the scenes” stuff is all well and good, but it had better hurry up.
Or, it’s possible that I am wrong, and that there’s nothing going on behind the scenes at all. “The president said sorry, the motion in parliament didn’t pass, let’s all get on with our lives. There is money to be earned, taxes to be paid and pockets to be lined. Let’s not dwell on this unpleasantness,” could very well be the actual party line.
When you have someone like Gwede Mantashe – by all accounts a thinking man who is mostly on the right side of the law – saying that it is better for the good of the party for the ANC to stick with Zuma because look what happened after they got rid of Thabo Mbeki and Julius Malema AT THE SAME TIME as he’s the guy who people are supposed to come to for protection if they want to report presidential corruption and Gupta shenanigans, we have a bit of a doublespeak problem on our hands.
Our government’s international reputation is shredded, its local credibility is similarly pulped. I know that there remain a lot of supporters out there who believe that no wrong can be done by these erstwhile struggle heroes, but popular and international sentiment no longer supports our president. The ANC is dragging its feet when every second that passes is another loss to their integrity.