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Jacob Zuma's Sinking Ship: What You Need to Know About #CabinetReshuffle

National alarm is spreading in South Africa after President Jacob Zuma's sacking of finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Here's what you need to know to follow along.

We all thought President Jacob Zuma—aka JZ—would be too busy licking his wounds after being barred from the late anti-Apartheid activist, Ahmed Kathrada's funeral, but no he did us dirty once more.


A few days ago, we woke to the news that JZ had in an unprecedented move, reshuffled his entire cabinet overnight and fired fifteen Ministers of Parliament (MPs).

The biggest move of the #CabinetReshuffle was axing the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan for the second time—this time based on a rather bogus-sounding intelligence report. In response, the value of the rand dropped precipitously against the dollar.

Gordhan's replacement, is Malusi Gigaba, the former Minister of Home Affairs, infamously known as the “Minister of Instagram.” In short, JZ chose a new Finance Minister with zero experience at the treasury and prior accusations of sticking his hands into government coffers to lavish his former mistress with expensive gifts.

There are mixed feelings with regards to the beloved and former Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, who has now been appointed the Minister of Police. Although many are endeared by his wittiness, enthusiasm and willingness to get the job done, it remains to be seen whether he has the actual tools to provide the necessary leadership that is lacking within the South African Police Services (SAPS) in the face of some pretty alarming crime statistics.

JZ has rightfully been on the receiving end of torrid criticism by citizens, opposition parties and members of the ANC alike. The EFF, a radical opposition party, flocked to the Constitutional Court to attempt to have JZ impeached and have a motion of no-confidence filed. However, in as much as the general sentiment of the country is condemning of JZ's actions, there are those who strongly feel that JZ knows exactly what he's doing and that South Africa should continue to trust in the decisions they believe are a middle-finger to white capital monopoly.

In lieu of this and taking into account that 70 MPs within the ANC are required to back the motion, and seeing that several such motions have failed in the past, I believe that JZ will in all likelihood walk away scot-free once again. In spite of former President Thabo Mbeki and former Deputy-President Kgalema Motlanthe calling on JZ to offer an explanation for the #CabinetReshuffle, no explanation has as yet been forthcoming. It seems JZ is adamant about seeing his tenure to the very end and determined to protect his own interests as well as those of his cronies all the while doing so with absolute impunity of course.

JZ is no stranger to scandal and his tenure as president has been riddled with controversy after controversy at the expense of average South Africans. These include but are not limited to: the R250 million upgrade of his homestead in Nkandla which he claimed was strictly for security purposes, the rape trial in which he asserted that taking a shower after having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman was enough to prevent him from being infected, state-of-the-nation addresses (SONAs) which resemble a circus show, and countless corrupt dealings with the influential and notorious Gupta family.

While some South Africans briefly expressed the humour that is so typical of our country particularly during politically tumultuous times in #ThingsToReshuffle, many South Africans took heed of Gordhan's call for mass mobilisation in response to the #CabinetReshuffle and soon #BlackMonday was born.

However, rather than unify the country through a common cause, there was an immediate division as black South Africans not only refused the wearing of black attire to show solidarity but also the march to Luthuli House, the headquarters of the ANC, in what I guess was supposed to be version 2.0 of #ZumaMustFall. Many black South Africans feel that white South Africans have long been selective of the injustices against which they choose to fight especially when looking at their distinct lack of support during #FeesMustFall.

And just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, our credit rating was recently reduced to the lowest possible investment grading in what has now become known as #JunkStatus. This was attributed to the continuing political instability and policy changes that are likely to follow. This has sent a shockwave through the markets and investors have begun to develop understandable jitters. When it rains, it truly pours.

The future of South Africa with JZ at the helm is a precarious one indeed and if opposition parties fail to have him impeached, South Africans may have to become accustomed to what appears to be a looming abyss filled with increasing socioeconomic turmoil.

With the general elections set to take place in 2019, South Africans find themselves in a predicament, and a dangerous one at that, because whilst many might want JZ gone, we must be wary of jumping onto the bandwagon of just any other political party and its leaders. Do we consider the already problematic DA which has of late been shrouded in Helen Zille's 'the-legacy-of-colonialism-was-beneficial' assertions or the at times too obstreperous and counterproductive tactics of the EFF?

From where I'm standing right now, it feels as if we're damned if we don't but also damned if we do.

Rufaro Samanga is an intellectual, aspiring literary great, feminist and most importantly, a fiercely passionate African.

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