Hermit, Emperor, Magician: Predicting S Africa's future
4 months ago, 16 July 16:00
Jacob Zuma has not had an easy retirement.
In the five months since he stood, glumly, before the cameras to concede that he had lost the battle to cling onto South Africa's presidency, he has been forced to endure multiple humiliations.
He has been charged with corruption, has seen his son, Duduzane, taken to court in leg irons on separate corruption charges; and has watched a seemingly relieved public rally around his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, in what has been dubbed here as a mood of "Ramaphoria."
In recent weeks, tantalising signs have appeared indicating that Mr Zuma - an acknowledged political heavyweight with once-revered powers of survival - may not be an entirely spent force.
Indeed, there is now growing concern in some quarters in South Africa that the ghost of the Zuma era - a bitter, vengeful, and disruptive spirit - may be plotting some sort of comeback.
"We're fairly certain that the infrastructure of Mr Zuma is engaged in a fight-back strategy… to paralyse Mr Ramaphosa, delay his reforms, delay improved economic circumstances, and exploit the ensuing populist fervour to destabilise this new administration," says Frans Cronje, a political analyst at the Institute for Race Relations in Johannesburg.
So how do you spot a ghost, or, perhaps, a poltergeist? Do such things even exist in politics?
To borrow - apologetically - from the world of spiritualism, maybe these tarot cards can help guide us.
I'm told this card refers to change, rebirth and improvement, rather than to South Africa's justice system, but the need for rebirth in the country's National Prosecuting Authority is a constant and urgent theme here, so please bear with me.
For years, powerful figures allegedly involved in the "state capture" - the looting and co-opting of state institutions by politicians and their business partners - have appeared to enjoy something close to immunity, courtesy of a national prosecuting chief who was routinely mocked as "Sean The Sheep" for his perceived loyalty to Mr Zuma.
Many South Africans were hoping that would change abruptly with a new president in charge. But although there have been some positive new developments - corruption charges reinstated against Mr Zuma himself, for instance - progress has been slow and many powerful figures implicated in corruption remain openly defiant and untouched.
Trouble is brewing, not for the first time, in the former president's home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini recently appeared to threaten both violence and a move to secede from South Africa if the governing ANC made any move to strip him of control of thousands of hectares of traditional land.
The ANC had indeed been discussing such a move, but rather than pointing to the outdated and feudal nature of the king's control over those living on his land and the alleged corruption involved in the whole setup, President Ramaphosa rushed to the king's palace to assure him that his land was safe and, presumably, to ensure his continued support for the ANC.
A politically necessary move, ...
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