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South Africa Showdown
Are Reports of Zuma’s Downfall Exaggerated?

The network of corruption and sleaze around Zuma led the ANC to its most humiliating election result since the end of apartheid, but the president’s allies continue to battle the clean up crew. The Financial Times reports:

A power struggle at the heart of South Africa’s government looks set to escalate after Pravin Gordhan, the embattled finance minister, said he would not comply with a request to appear before an investigative unit of the police.

Mr Gordhan, who has been leading efforts to restore confidence in South Africa’s stagnating economy, was requested by the head of the Hawks, an investigative police agency, to appear at its headquarters on Thursday in regards to an investigation in to the South African Revenue Service [Sars].


Any charges against Mr Gordhan could put pressure on him to resign, or leave him vulnerable to a snap cabinet reshuffle by Mr Zuma. The latest episode of the Sars controversy also suggests that Mr Zuma is unbowed by the drubbing his ruling African National Congress endured at this month’s local elections, and is instead focusing on consolidating his power and patronage.

According to one analyst quoted in the article, “Zuma had a lot more power than people thought.”

South Africa’s presidents have not been on a good track: the great Nelson Mandela, the erratic Mbeke (who refused to take AIDS seriously even as a massive outbreak of the disease ripped through South Africa), and now the acquisitive Zuma.

The good news is that South Africa’s voters are clearly showing their displeasure with the politics of sleaze, but the road ahead looks rugged. Much depends on whether the opposition parties now running four of the country’s major metropolitan areas—Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria—can deliver on their promises.

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