The stagnating South African economy, the energy crises, Nkandla, fraud and corruption are all hallmarks of President Zuma’s term as head of state.
The DA conducted a comprehensive assessment of President Zuma’s performance since the May elections and it is clear that this is the worst performance yet by the President.
The reality is that President Zuma is failing as President of our country and the majority of the Ministers in his cabinet are failing as well.
The following matters are of grave concern:
The President’s unwillingness to answer questions in Parliament. President Zuma has failed to answer a full set of questions in Parliament since November 2013, clearly in contravention of the Parliamentary rules which require him to attend once per term. In so doing, the President has undermined Parliament and undermined the Constitution.
The President’s response to the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla. He has made every effort imaginable to avoid accountability on this issue. He waited as long as he could to respond to the Public Protector’s findings that he benefited improperly. He wrote a non-response in which he attempted to avoid responsibility. He refuses to answer on when he will pay back the money he owes.
Our stagnating economy. Unemployment continues to increase. It is now over 35% on an expanded definition. Moody’s has downgraded our sovereign credit rating, and also the credit ratings of all of South Africa’s majour financial institutions. There is no doubt that South Africa faces an economic crisis. Our fiscal situation is deteriorating, growth remains low and unemployment is on an upward trajectory, yet the President does not even acknowledge the problem. Nothing new has been announced to improve the economic situation.
Our energy crisis. The President has reportedly made a secret deal with the Russian to build up to R1 trillion in new nuclear power stations. No public procurement process was followed and there is no indication that this is the most cost effective or strategic option on the table. Simultaneously, the President has been missing in action on the Eskom crisis, which requires high level intervention to help determine the future of Eskom. The result is that we are facing potentially multiple years of recurring blackouts and no clarity on the way forward for Eskom.
The R30 billion we lose to fraud and corruption annually. President Zuma must renounce corruption and support all investigations into corrupt officials and politicians, including those into his own affairs. Crucially, the President must support a law to stop politicians and government officials from doing business with the state, as has been implemented in the Western Cape.
The politicisation of the state communications machinery. Nothing is more destructive to the long-term health our democracy and the recent moves by the President to capture the state communications machinery, including the SABC, and to use it as a propaganda tool. This is inherently corrupt, unconstitutional and anti-democratic. It must be stopped at all costs.
The politicisation of independent institutions within the criminal justice system. There are serious questions over the NPA, the Public Protector and a number of other institutions meant to uphold the rule of law.
These institutions must remain independent to ensure that the President and the executive are accountable to the same laws as other South Africans. The President and the ANC’s assault on these institutions, in particular the ANC’s attacks on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, are deeply worrying as they point to a willingness to undermine the independence of these institutions for the sake of protecting President Zuma. This is unconstitutional and cannot stand.
In short, President Zuma has failed to deliver positive improvements to the lives of South Africans, and is prepared to compromise the constitution to protect himself from oversight. He is a destructive presence at the centre of our government and can be directly linked to many of our most pressing challenges.