POLITICS

How To Lose A President In 10 Days

President Jacob Zuma: Here’s what we know. So brace yourself.

08/02/2018 13:20 SAST | Updated 08/02/2018 15:23 SAST
Sumaya Hisham / Reuters
Hello, goodbye? President Jacob Zuma leaving Tuynhuys this week.

Brace yourself. It is going to take a few more days for President Jacob Zuma's exit to be completed. Here's what we know about where things are.

TEN MORE DAYS

Sumaya Hisham / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma leaves Tuynhuys, the office of the Presidency at Parliament in Cape Town.

President Jacob Zuma is only likely to leave in about 10 days' time. This is because a final deal on his exit will be ratified or presented to the ANC national executive committee when it meets on February 17. Caution: if the limbo period becomes too politically taxing, his exit may be brought forward.

NEGOTIATING PRIVILEGES

It's about the money, honey. Zuma's exit team is negotiating the best possible financial outcome for him. As an outgoing president, he is entitled to his salary for life as well as a pension. At 75 years old, he is already entitled to a pension. But the president has huge costs: he has many dependent wives with children who are still of schoolgoing age. In addition, he has several children out of wedlock, for whom he is required to pay maintenance.

ORANGE IS NOT THE NEW BLACK

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A prosecution is a huge fear for Zuma. He spent 10 years in jail, and strategists close to the negotiations say this topic comes up often.

A revitalised and muscular civil National Prosecuting Authority would be unable to prosecute the Gupta family and their enablers without closing in on Zuma.

In addition, he still faces charges related to the 783 counts and 18 charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering arising from the arms deal, which are back on the prosecutorial agenda.

Ramaphosa cannot, if he supports an independent NPA, grant such a deal, and this makes this the biggest sticking point to a Zexit.

Sumaya Hisham / Reuters
Going, going . . ? Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa talks on his phone outside parliament in Cape Town.

WHO WILL PAY MICHAEL HULLEY?

Hulley is the president's long-standing lawyer and is likely to continue representing him. Zuma wants guarantees that his legal bills will be funded by the state. This should not be a problem, says Zuma.

ETHNIC MOBILISATION

The ANC's KwaZulu-Natal base is unhappy at its perceived marginalisation. While the party brings the highest number of members to the ANC, it does not have a representative on the party's powerful set of top six leaders.

In addition, it is being run by an interim leadership after a High Court ruling that its previous provincial leadership had been illegally elected.

RAJESH JANTILAL via Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma gestures as he meets with hundreds of traditional Zulu leaders, Indunas and Amabuthos (warriors) at a meeting held between him and traditional leaders at the Durban City hall on January 5, 2018 in Durban.

Zuma is still the most popular leader in rural areas, and there is a growing view that he is being "lynched" by an urban mob, said a member of the ANC top six – who added that the president's popularity in rural areas is underestimated in urban centres.

Ethnic mobilisation in KwaZulu-Natal is a real factor, say Ramaphosa aides, and he has to do everything he can to assuage fears.

Former presidents are well looked after by the state. Parliament took a decision in 2008 that all former heads of state – currently FW de Klerk, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe – receive their full presidential salary for life. This pension is increased every year in keeping with the annual increase granted to public office bearers. Their surviving spouses will continue to receive 50 percent of the salary when they die. Former presidents also receive full medical aid. Besides the generous pension benefits, the state also provides them with VIP security, which includes static security in the form of guards and security facilities (like perimeter fencing) at their private homes. Threats to their security are reviewed annually. Former presidents can also make use of state aircraft when available and can rely on paid assistants and researchers for five years after they leave office. Zuma's salary is currently R2.87-million per year.
City Press reported in 2012 that the state spent R28-million on upgrades at former president Nelson Mandela's home at Qunu in Eastern Cape, and R3.5-million at Mbeki's home in Riviera, Johannesburg, when he left office. The Sunday Times and Mail & Guardian reported in 2012 that the state only paid for the raising of a wall and a guardhouse at De Klerk's Cape Town home. Government spent R246-million on upgrading Zuma's Nkandla compound. He has already had to pay back R7.8-million for benefits he wasn't entitled to, while questions remain about unpaid fringe-benefit tax. – Pieter du Toit