South Africa’s Embattled Presidency
By admin August 9, 2017

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On Tuesday, August 8th, the South African parliament narrowly voted to keep President Jacob Zuma. The no confidence vote on President Zuma came at a time when South Africa has been in an economic decline and its standing with the international community has faltered. This would be the sixth time in Zuma’s presidency where a no confidence vote was taken with every outcome coming in favor of the embattled President. What differed this time was the anonymity of the vote. Prior no confidence votes were performed with the public and the President aware of who voted for and against him. This vote, being held in private, allowed for members of parliament to vote without fear of repercussion. Although Zuma came out on top with 198 votes in his favor and 177 against, many in his own party voted against him, further complicating the relationship and trust in the office of the Presidency and the greater political system.

This latest vote comes after a long list of scandals that go back past the eight years of Zuma’s presidency. In 2006, Zuma was acquitted of raping a younger HIV-positive woman and claiming he took a shower after sex in order to avoid contracting the disease. In 2009, prosecutors dropped 783 corruption charges which stem from a 1999 arms deal when he was deputy President. The charges are currently being challenged in court to be reinstated. In 2014, charges were brought up that Zuma used taxpayer money to make upgrades to his home. He eventually beat the charges but was required to pay the money back. In 2013, he fought accusations of influence peddling in what came to be known as Guptagate. In 2015, Zuma fired his well like finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, and then fired his replacement, prompting credit agencies to downgrade South Africa to junk status. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeals, ruled that Zuma had acted illegally in not arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who was wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes (ICC). Al-Bashir was attending an African Union summit in South Africa in 2015. This ruling prompted Zuma to leave the ICC, further damaging South Africa’s standing in the international community.

Zuma’s current political struggles comes as a the economy has faltered, unemployment remains high, and corruption charges continue to develop. Even though Zuma will remain as President, his status in the office has significantly weakened. It was the first time his own party had voted against him and although his party came out and defended the vote, almost none came out in confidence of the President. As Zuma’s power continues to decline, the future of South Africa remains a mystery. Only time will determine how long it will take for South Africa’s political establishment and people to heal and repair their fractured society.

Further Reading:

South African President Jacob Zuma survives no-confidence vote by Parliament

Why you should care about Jacob Zuma surviving a vote of no confidence in South Africa this week

Six political scandals President Zuma has survived

South African President Zuma survives attempt to oust him

Can South Africa recover from its decline under Zuma?

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