President Jacob Zuma has sacked his opponents inside his government, including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Fifteen ministers have gone.
As the Daily Maverick put it: “The Zuma presidency has ended. The Zuma dictatorship has begun.”
The ANC itself was not consulted. The reshuffle list was developed elsewhere, said the ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe.
There have now been calls for action, with the Democratic Alliance declaring: “This is an act of complete state capture. We cannot sit by and let this happen. It is time that all South Africans stand together to protect our democracy.”
But the real question is what Zuma himself will do.
And we have pointers from his past. As head of intelligence for MK during the long years of exile. He was trained by the German Stasi and is not a man to flinch from action.
Three pointers to his next steps:
- Use ‘black ops’: deploy the security services at his disposal to destabilise the situation and put out a range of spurious reports to discredit his opponents. He has already used this strategy, accusing Gorhan of plotting in London to stage a ‘coup’. This is clearly a fake. But it is an indication of things to come.
- Go down the Mugabe road: use racial division to bolster his support. Zuma has already called in Parliament for “unity of black parties” to seize the remaining white farms. This is exactly what Mugabe did after losing the 2000 referendum. It led to the disastrous ‘land reform programme’ that has left Zimbabwe destitute.
- Attack the media: the free press, radio and TV are one of the few bastions of democracy that Zuma has so far failed to control. He has introduced security vetting of the SABC board and threatened a range of other measures. Watch this space.
It will be a rough ride, as the president continues to confront his critics within the ANC and the wider public, while using his new cronies to loot the Treasury and Reserve Bank.
This is a fight to the finish.