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Zuma grasped last chance to act while still in top job -analyst

Mar 31 2017 08:49

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s extensive Cabinet reshuffle late on Thursday night was increasingly similar to a strategy outlined by former US President Abraham Lincoln, who said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” 

This was political analyst Daniel Silke’s view on Zuma’s removal of key ministers from Cabinet – most notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. 

READ: Rand in freefall as Zuma axes Gordhan, Jonas 

Silke said with Zuma under considerable pressure both on legal and political issues, he has limited time to put in place a series of events in which he hopes to secure an unfettered retirement – “free from concern about prosecution”. 

For that reason Zuma created an immediate Cabinet environment which is largely supportive of him, but also fosters vested intererests that support him and derive benefits from his coat tails. 

“Zuma needs to keep a variety of vested interest groups relatively happy – be they the Guptas, state-owned enterprise cadres, or those who will derive benefits from big ticket deals like the nuclear procurement programme,” Silke said. 

“Zuma could no longer allow the prevailing political pendulum to swing away from securing his future. He has already prevaricated for well over a year and his position of power has deteriorated. While he still has the chains to the top job, this may have been his last chance to act.” 

READ: Zuma said to face mass Cabinet walk-out if Gordhan is fired 

But at the same time, Silke says, Zuma is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard-place. Through the reconstituted Cabinet, he risks unleashing an unintended set of political consequences that could either fracture his own party or be the making of a rapid downfall. 

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