14/02/2018 23:01 SAST | Updated 14/02/2018 23:01 SAST

All The Damage Jacob Zuma Has Wrought Over His Tenure

From the tax man and the Hawks, to the NPA, the treasury and the governing alliance.

 Jacob Zuma celebrates with his supporters after surviving a no-confidence motion in Parliament last year.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Jacob Zuma celebrates with his supporters after surviving a no-confidence motion in Parliament last year.

Jacob Zuma's tenure as president of South Africa has come to an long, drawn-out end, but his legacy will not be forgotten – certainly in the various institutions that he has laid waste.

With 10 years at the helm of the ANC and then nine years as head of state, Zuma has made a number of significant decisions when appointing leaders to South Africa's institutions, most of whom are now a shadow of their former selves.

It can be argued that Zuma's chopping and changing at these institutions may have been detrimental to their operations, but has served his political agendas effectively.

This is the damage Zuma wrought over his tenure:


When Zuma was elected president of the ANC in 2007, the party dealt a fatal blow to the country's elite crime-fighting unit, the Scorpions. It has been argued that the reason for this was the unit pursuing investigations into Zuma's 783 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. They were replaced by the Hawks.

Years on, in a bid to gain control over the institution, former police minister Nathi Nhleko suspended former Hawks head Anwa Dramat. In 2015, the courts found that the suspension was unlawful and invalid.

It became apparent in various cases, most notably with their investigation into Pravin Gordhan, that the Hawks were being used to further political agendas.


The taxman has always been a thorn in Zuma's side. In 2014, Sars started an investigation into whether the president owed fringe-benefits tax for the improvements to his Nkandla estate. In the same year, Oupa Magashule, then commissioner, quit after a recording of him offering a young woman a job was made public. Tom Moyane, Zuma's struggle friend who had not even applied for the job, was specifically chosen by the president to replace Magashule.

In 2015, Moyane laid charges against officials like Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and Gordhan for their alleged role in the what was called (but never proven to exist) the "rogue unit". The investigation into Zuma's tax affairs has since ground to a halt.

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA NOVEMBER 28: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) South African Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane during his appearance before Parliaments finance committee on November 28, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. Moyane appeared before the committee to present the revenue service's annual report and to field questions about the suspension, investigation and reinstatement of Jonas Makwakwa. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Esa Alexander)


The finance minister guards the key to the safe doors at National Treasury and the country's fiscus. Gordhan, who in 2015 was appointed finance minister, was proving a pain to Zuma and the Gupta family.

Gordhan had blocked Zuma's free education plan, blocked the Guptas from starting their own bank and acquiring a lucrative deal with Denel, and was adamant that the country did not have the money to finance Zuma's trillion-rand nuclear plan.

Last year, in a midnight Cabinet reshuffle, Gordhan got the boot and was replaced by Zuma ally and alleged Gupta crony Malusi Gigaba. After Gordhan's removal, rating agencies downgraded the country's economy, sending the value of the rand downward fast.

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA JANUARY 18: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba during a pre-World Economic Forum (WEF) breakfast briefing on January 18, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ramaphosa, who will be accompanied by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba at the WEF in Davos, said Team SA is hoping to woo investors with the message that South Africa is serious about rooting out corruption, and that renewal is taking place in the country. (Photo by Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


In Zuma's early presidential years, control of the NPA became just as important as control of the Hawks in a bid to keep himsel, and his friends safe from investigation and prosecution. Dodging those 783 counts were, and still are, Zuma's priority.

In 2009, then-NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the 18 charges levelled against Zuma – a decision that was later voided by the courts. Then came Nomgcobo Jiba, who was slated by the courts for her handling of the Richard Mdluli and Johan Booysen matters.

Now, current NPA boss Shaun Abrahams has been criticised for slow action – or rather, complete inaction – in prosecuting allegations of state capture against the Guptas and their associates. He has also appealed various court decisions against the Hawks for their handling of Zuma's charges.

The decision to prosecute Zuma on those charges now rests in his hands.

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA NOVEMBER 04: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss advocate Shaun Abrahams during his appearance before The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in Parliament on November 04, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. Abrahams was grilled for several hours over the NPAs controversial decision to prosecute Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former SA Revenue Service employees, Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, and his subsequent announcement that fraud charges had been dropped. (Photo by Jaco Marais/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


The ANC's alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) was brought to the brink of destruction last year.

During Cosatu's annual May Day rallies, the federation's supporters booed and heckled Zuma when he took the stage to address them. Frustrated by the mounting allegations of state capture surrounding him, the federation later banned Zuma from addressing any of its events and called for his resignation.

The SACP remained less outspoken about Zuma until he axed its leader, Blade Nzimande, from his position as higher education minister. The party said the move was a "declaration of war" on the alliance, and moved to join calls for Zuma's head to roll. The SACP has now declared that it will contest elections independently from the ANC, for the first time in it history.

AFP/Getty Images
Confederation Of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) members cheer and dance as they march through the streets protesting against corruption on September 27, 2017 in Johannesburg. Thousands of angry South African trade unionists took to the streets across the nation on September 27, demanding the resignation of South African president Jacob Zuma and the institution of Judicial Enquiry Commission over alleged top-level corruption. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)