Award-winning author and playwright Zakes Mda says South Africa is heading for a bloodbath if the ANC loses in the 2019 general elections because the president is unlikely to relinquish his grip on power.
A long-time ANC supporter, Mda fails to see how the party will garner more than 50% of the vote with President Jacob Zuma at the helm. Neither does he believe that Zuma, who Mda believes is petrified of facing imprisonment, will voluntarily step down before his term draws to a close in 2019.
“Many people think that Jacob Zuma will go. Oh no, Jacob Zuma will not go … he knows that if he goes all those [corruption] charges and all other nuances pertaining to the Guptas will come and he will end up in prison.
“He wants to stay in power because, [for] as long as he is in power, he is able to manipulate the system, such as the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], by planting his own people there who are going to protect him. [If he were to step down,] he becomes vulnerable and therefore he ends up in prison. He is going to fight to the death if anybody tries to put him out,” Mda said.
He expressed confidence in the country’s Constitution, adding that the fact that chapter nine institutions and the media were exposing the president was an indication that South Africa is a functional democracy.
“South Africa is a very democratic country and what we see now is actually democracy at work. We have all these checks and balances. In many other countries, Zuma would have got away with what he is doing and no one would have batted an eyelid.”
Mda said it was these checks and balances, established in 1994 as a foundational aspect of the new dispensation, that strengthened South Africa’s democracy.
“That is why things like [state capture] are being exposed. That’s why we have the strong judiciary, chapter nine institutions, the press and civil society,” said Mda.
But his greatest fear is that Zuma and his cronies might resort to violence when they run out of legal options to keep the president in power.
“My fear is that precisely because of these institutions that are exposing corrupt politicians we are heading towards a bloodbath very soon.”
He said Zuma would be much more comfortable with seeing his former wife, outgoing African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma, at the helm of both the ANC and the country.
“His [Zuma’s] plan is … to have cultivated a president who will be of his choice within the ANC, who will pardon him when he or she becomes president. It’s very important that he has a president who will be sympathetic to him.”
Constitutionally, the president can pardon anyone facing criminal charges.
“He [Zuma] is banking on a pardon that will happen after his term. He has support in the party … the ANCYL [ANC Youth League], the ANCWL [ANC Women’s League] and the MKMVA [Umkhonto weSizwe Veterans Association] are all supporting him. They will ensure the president is not [Deputy President Cyril] Ramaphosa. They want Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. You can rest assured that some undertaking has been made for her to pardon Zuma.”
Mda said the Zuma faction would be disappointed to know they would obtain less than 50% of the vote in 2019.
“They are busy destroying themselves as the ANC. They may even get 45% [of the vote]. This means a coalition of opposition parties will be in power.
“If that happens, [Zuma and his cohorts] will refuse to hand over power because they know of their crimes … that’s when the bloodbath happens because they know that the new coalition … will take them to prison,” Mda said.