President Jacob Zuma has not been captured by the Gupta family – or any other entity. He does not take instructions from them. He does not do their bidding. Instead, judging from his dysfunctional cabinet and its actions last week, he is a man who is deeply, deathly afraid.
He is like a person who is being blackmailed – afraid of exposure and destruction.
He not only does what the blackmailer instructs, but allows the blackmailer to get away with murder with acts against those around him.
So, Zuma is not captured. The reality is far worse.
The events that took place last Friday – when the hapless Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane issued a market-moving statement purporting to be from cabinet and announcing a judicial inquiry into banks and restructuring of the Reserve Bank’s responsibilities to issue banking licences – indicate that there is a coterie of ministers and ANC officials who no longer take direction or instruction from Zuma.
They seem to take their orders straight from the Gupta family. Zuma is unable to rein these ministers in or tell his friends – the Guptas – that they have over-stepped their boundaries.
Indeed, it seems it is left to others, such as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, to do so.
Mantashe last week berated the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) after its chairman, Kebby Maphatsoe, who two weeks ago admitted to being a liar in the Pretoria High Court, and its treasurer, Des van Rooyen, attacked their senior cabinet colleague Pravin Gordhan.
Van Rooyen, who was fired by Zuma after only four days in the finance portfolio due to outrage that he was a Gupta appointee, accused Gordhan of using the media to seek sympathy.
Maphatsoe and Van Rooyen are regulars on the Gupta family defence treadmill.
Maphatsoe has in the past said MKMVA was “proud” to do business with the Gupta family.
Another ANC leader who is a regular Gupta defender, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, last week also warned that the Reserve Bank’s private ownership presented a “difficulty”, raising questions about its independence.
This was just days before Zwane’s bizarre proposal for banking licence applications to be taken away from the Reserve Bank in direct conflict with international best practice.
On all these issues Zuma has been absent without official leave.
All these allegations have led to extraordinary market turmoil, with the rand taking a beating and international and domestic investors asking hard questions about the political environment.
Is Zuma’s silence approval of what these ministers and officials are saying on his behalf?
Is this part of his plan to destabilise Gordhan, the Treasury and others who stand in the way of looting of state assets?
Or is the plan wholly out of his hands now?
Last week’s events have every South African institution that does business with the Guptas all over them. The state-owned enterprises, such as Eskom, have now become tools to defy and attack the Treasury’s insistence on law and order.
All those involved in the spats do business with the Gupta family. The politicians named above all do business or are advised by the Gupta family in some or other sphere.
These individuals and others seem to take instructions straight from Dubai and not from Zuma.
After every single one of their outrageous statements they are reprimanded not by Zuma, but by other leaders of the ANC.
These leaders – Mantashe, Ramaphosa et al – never get the full backing of the party president, who sits glumly at Mahlamba Ndlopfu while his country burns.
So here is the truth, unpalatable as it may seem. Zuma is not a puppet. He is no longer given instructions to relay to his cabinet and ANC minions.
It is now clear that, just as they offered jobs to Vytjie Mentor and Mcebisi Jonas and others, the Guptas are issuing directions to people like Zwane directly.
We already know that Zwane works for the Guptas. He flew all the way to Switzerland to negotiate their purchase of a mine so they could access coal contracts.
Last week’s events show that we no longer have a president. The country is no longer run from Saxonwold, either. The country is run from Dubai.
Crucially, those who now run our country have such a deep, dark, massive secret hanging over Zuma he cannot open his mouth to tell them to back off.
He is signed, sealed, delivered to them, and can now only watch from the sidelines as they run the country into the ground.
If he dares oppose them now they will destroy him. So he keeps quiet.
In his heart of hearts, Zuma the humble ANC soldier now hopes that someone comes through and rescues the ANC from the family he sold it to for a few pieces of silver.
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