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‘We demand transparency on Zuma exit discussions’ – Save South Africa

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 8, 2018
‘We demand transparency on Zuma exit discussions’ – Save South Africa

The Save South Africa movement, which last year organised some of the biggest protest marches against beleaguered President Jacob Zuma, says the secrecy around the talks between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zuma over the latter’s early exit, is concerning.

Ramaphosa is the current African National Congress (ANC) President after winning the race to succeed Zuma in December.

Since then, there have been high-level discussions to have President Zuma hand over power to him before his term ends in 2019 – to avoid what the ANC calls ‘two centres of power’ – having two different leaders for the party and the state, which makes it difficult for the party to guide the State if the two leaders are not seeing eye-to-eye.

“We demand transparency and accountability, the Save South Africa campaign is deeply concerned at the veil of secrecy surrounding negotiations to secure the urgent and long-overdue departure of President Jacob Zuma,” said Convenor of the Save South Africa campaign, Sipho Pityana, in a statement.

Pityana said that citizens have been reduced to spectators in the determination of the fate of a President elected to act on their behalf by a democratic Parliament.

He added that these series of private discussions are an insult to constitutional order.

“Granted, Mr Zuma is President of the Republic of South Africa, as a result of the nomination and support of the majority party that the ANC is, and his party has a right to recall him.

“But a negotiation of the kind being conducted now requires that citizens are shown respect, and are made aware of what is being discussed. We need assurance that accountability and respect for the constitution and the law are respected,” Pityana described.

“A litany of statements from those in high office that makes fools of us as citizens must be rejected: Parliament’s presiding officers provide flimsy excuses to deny a legitimate request by the opposition parties for a debate of a motion of no confidence prior to the State of the Nation Address (SONA).”

The 2018 SONA was postponed on Tuesday after opposition parties put pressure on Parliament’s presiding officers to ensure that Zuma will not deliver his SONA to avoid a ‘waste of taxpayers’ monies’ given the uncertainty surrounding the future of Zuma as President.

Pityana said that the postponement showed “an abuse of power.”

“In what is clearly intended to allow ANC’s internal process to unfold, this postponement is for an indefinite period. If this conduct is not blatant abuse of power, it is hard to imagine how else to describe it.”

He called upon South Africans to reject “this behaviour” as it seems Ramaphosa has fallen into a trap of partaking on confidential negotiation with a “President, who is clearly unwanted by the people of South Africa (including the vast majority in his own party), and who thrives on backdoor deals and covert arrangements”.

“We urge the ANC President to step up, to engage openly and robustly with the issue of Zuma’s departure, and to stop being sucked into the illicit world that Zuma and his cronies thrive in. Shuffling Zuma out of the backdoor, with any number of trade-offs and compromises, is not only bad for Mr Ramaphosa – it is bad for South Africa,” Pityana said.

“Secret dealings will not engender public confidence in the fate of Jacob Zuma, or in the person who replaces him.

“Mr Ramaphosa should know better, and be aware that the perception is already forming that he is replicating the arrogance and covert operations of Zuma’s ANC, in full public display. It is an ominously bad start for the new leadership of the movement, and it must be stopped.

“South Africa cannot be saved if the strategy is to be more of the same. We demand transparency. We reject secret backdoor deals. And we warn, very strongly, against the perpetuation of arrogant and disrespectful leadership.”