While South Africans seldom take into account the personal lives of politicians when it comes to choosing leaders‚ the international community is not so forgiving.
This is according to political analyst Ralph Mathekga‚ responding to questions on whether the latest storm‚ fuelled by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s alleged former mistress Buhle Mkhize‚ could damage his political career.
“These things don’t matter to South Africans… Our society doesn’t give prominence to such. People are used to it and it doesn’t stay in the headlines for too long‚” Mathekga said.
“Internationally‚ they do matter. Western media does give prominence to such things. When President Jacob Zuma was in Davos‚ he was asked about his four wives and this had nothing to do with the presidency or the economy.”
But Professor Steven Friedman holds a different view.
“I can’t think of a case in South Africa where a politician’s career ended because of something like this‚” Friedman said.
“Such things really don’t matter. We saw that with an attempt to smear [former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe’s] image with allegations regarding a young girl but all those things turned out to be untrue.”
Asked whether international investors would be doubtful of doing business with the new finance minister because of commentary over his personal life‚ Friedman said this was highly unlikely.
“They could not care about it‚ frankly. They have their own private lives‚” Friedmann said‚ adding that all that mattered was whether the person presented was able to successfully handle the portfolio.
Earlier this week‚ Mkhize took to Twitter‚ threatening to spill alleged details not only of the heated affair‚ but also of Gigaba’s relationship with the controversial Gupta family.
“Let’s not forget the private jet Joburg to Durban @mgigaba. Shocker !!!. You’ve never met the Guptas angithi (right)?” Gigaba’s former squeeze wrote in a long-winded Twitter post.
The Guptas are alleged to have some prominent politicians in their pockets‚ ensuring that they receive lucrative deals with the government.
While Gigaba could choose not to answer questions around his love life‚ he could be called to account for this particular statement‚ Mathekga said.
“This statement can be elevated above a rumour‚” Mathekga said.
If indeed the allegations made by Mkhize are true‚ Gigaba had opened the doors to being compromised.
“He could find himself being the subject of blackmail. He could find himself being pushed into a corner‚” Mathekga said.
Gigaba would now have to always live under the shadow of these suspicions.
Friedman‚ however‚ said rumours of Gigaba’s alleged ties to the Guptas are nothing new‚ adding that these were once again thrust into the spotlight following his appointment last month.
“He will have to spend some time winding those [rumours] down. This is a crucial issue. But recent reports that he blocked a deal involving the Guptas was good for him‚” said Friedman‚ saying this proved he wasn’t dancing to the Guptas’ tune.