The Guptas, the “spy tape” saga and now the constitutional court’s Nkandla ruling are all blows that President Jacob Zuma is trying to deflect, political expert Daniel Silke said on Thursday.
“The nature of the constitutional court judgment, the language used, the gravitas of the court itself, would suggest that President Zuma has received yet another body blow. It’s a little bit like a heavyweight boxer in a sense,” Silke said.
“He is being pummelled and pummelled severely as a result of this judgment into a corner and I think, severely damaged.”
He believed the ruling on Thursday was the most damning of all the accusations against Zuma.
“His ability to make critical decisions, perhaps his ability even to reshuffle his own cabinet, I think, is now seriously in question.”
Silke said the court had thrown down the gauntlet to the ANC and it was no longer just about Zuma paying back the money.
The party would have to look at Zuma’s office going forward and whether they wanted him as head of state through local government elections, towards the elective conference next year, and into the 2019 national elections.
“It becomes a very complex and uncomfortable position for the ANC going forward and President Zuma’s own power base is rapidly being eroded as a result of this judgment.”
The party, in a sense, was all about collective decision making and continuity, and the last thing it wanted was to show weakness or for Zuma’s fate to be determined by opposition parties, Silke said.
He believed it would be “business as usual”, at least on the surface, for the next while.
“This is all about the ANC trying to find some workable internal mechanism to deal with the issue, to investigate the issue and potentially, to find some sort of fairly safe exit strategy for Jacob Zuma going forward.”
He said the need to ring-fence Zuma from further embarrassment, legal or otherwise, probably also had to be ironed out.