Zuma logic

Andew Donaldson writes on the MKP leader's tenuous grasp of the rules


THESE are troubling times. No cliche has been left unturned as the country pitches headlong into an uncertain future. Storm clouds gather, there are forks in the roads, unchartered waters, brinks of precipices and dark abysses upon which the Rainbow Nation teeters. Avalanches, earthquakes and tsunamis are now surely in the offing.

Thank heavens then for Jacob Zuma, unwavering in his weapons-grade truculence. There are no unknown unknowns where the embittered Convict Number One is concerned. He is a rock at such times, the idiocy reliably undimmed and the self-serving instincts as feral as ever. The political senility may startle, but the resentment and threats should come as no surprise. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

It is true that the years may be piling up and that, at 82, this may be his last roll of the dice. The Nkandladammerung nevertheless remains a spectacle of reassuring splendour.

We can draw comfort, for example, at the great irony of a man approaching the highest court in the land in his bid to reverse the election results in order that he may then strip said court of its powers.

The farce began when he jemmied himself into the role of leader and Poster Boy Number One of the breakaway uMkhonto we Sizwe party and then convinced himself and his supporters that, at the very least, a two-thirds majority was on the cards at the polls. The Constitution would then be scrapped and we’d be led off to some precolonial Eden, there to grow fat along with our cattle and many wives.

This alas did not happen. The party received almost 15 per cent of the vote, and won control of KZN. City Press declared them “the biggest winners at the 2024 national election” and suggested they had “pulled the biggest surprise of them all” by coming third in the elections, with more than 2.3 million votes. Here at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”) there was some comment to the effect that it was equally surprising that commentators should be surprised that there were large numbers of Zulus in KZN.

Impressive as it may have been, 15 percent was not 67 percent, and Zuma had, of course, planned for such an outcome. Out came the conspiracist dog whistle. He had warned of vote rigging, telling MKP supporters that the ANC and the Electoral Commission of SA were possibly colluding in voter fraud. Parties in contravention of the IEC code should be struck off the election ballot, he added.

This followed claims by MKP members on social media that vote-rigging was taking place at an IEC ballot storage facility in KwaZulu-Natal. There had also been allegations that, following a meeting between IEC officials and US ambassador Reuben Brigety, that Washington would somehow influence the outcome of the election.

All of this was false — and only true to the tenets of the orange disruptor playbook. The suggestion of voter fraud has accordingly blossomed so intractably in the minds of MK supporters that it is quite probable that Zuma himself believes with every fibre of his aged being that the election was stolen. He, in any event, is sticking with this narrative and there may be more entertaining meltdowns between now and Friday, when the National Assembly convenes.

The grasp on reality remains as peculiar and as tenuous as ever. This was made clear in a recent interview with Eyewitness News associate politics editor Tshidi Madia. Billed as an exclusive, it was recorded at Nkandla where, among other matters, Zuma was pressed on his party’s plans to boycott Friday’s sitting. 

He evidently believes that if his 58 MPs don’t turn up, the House will not be constituted and thus unable to re-elect as the country’s president his sworn enemy and lackey of white monopoly capital, Cyril Ramaphosa. 

Procedural intricacies being what they are, some Zumasplaining was necessary. Much to Madia’s bemusement, the former Thief-in-Chief revealed that he had attended Parliament for a long time and accordingly had much experience in these matters.

“If,” he began, “there is a law that says there is no … uh, what is it called? Hmm … when there is a huge number that is not in Parliament?”

Madia patiently tried to explain that the National Assembly would still convene regardless of his boycott. For a moment, it was like watching a child having difficulty with his sums. Take 400 MPs. Subtract 58. This leaves … what? Maybe some hundreds and eleventy MPs? 

The fact that, in terms of the Constitution, only 134 MPs were needed for a quorum appeared wholly unacceptable to Zuma, who muttered,  “No, no, no…”

“I’m willing to take a bet on that one with you,” Madia said.

“If there are chairs that are empty, there’s no quorum…”

“Are you going to take MPs from other parties and ask them not to attend?”

“We are all complaining,” Zuma said. “Not only me. If MK is not there, there’s no quorum.”

Indeed. The MKP are now dealing with this trifling matter. In their urgent Constitutional Court application to interdict Parliament from sitting on Friday, they’re seeking a declaratory order that the National Assembly will not be properly constituted if the first sitting of the House “consists of no less than 350 members and no more than 400”, and if these MPs have yet to be sworn in.

If the MKP wins its case then, ergo, no quorum. Who’s the maths dummy now?

Experts believe, however, that the dismissal of the MKP’s application will come hard and fast. It is difficult, they suggest, for learned judges to weigh in on allegations of vote-rigging when no such evidence has been presented before them. A technicality perhaps, but an important one nonetheless.

Elsewhere, negotiations concerning coalitions and a government of national unity continue behind closed doors. These are said to be frantic, intense, “round the clock” and will continue until the “eleventh hour” and perhaps to the “very last minute”. Few details have emerged from these discussions, but what we do know is perhaps worth mentioning — if only to stress the fractious nature of a riven republic.

The DA’s federal council has unanimously resolved to continue negotiating with the ANC and other unnamed parties to form a GNU. The DA has, however, precluded working with Julius Malema’s EFF and the MKP, both of who have indicated that it would not form part of a GNU. The ANC’s radical economic transformation faction, along with alliance partners Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, have warned Squirrel and his supporters they will have no truck with any arrangement with the DA. So it goes.

But it appears, at the time of writing at least, that a “crucial milestone” has been reached. News24 reports that the majority of parties had on Tuesday agreed to back Squirrel’s GNU vision. All that was needed was Cosatu-SACP “buy-in” to clinch the deal. Quite why the say-so of two groups who have never participated in general elections should be so germane to the outcome of a general election is perhaps a matter for another time. Until then, we have Friday on our minds.