Zuma desperate for a corruption charges deal

There is intense speculation over whether the South African president, Jacob Zuma, will resign or be deposed over multiple allegations of corruption.

Zuma is desperately negotiating  for a deal to protect him from prosecution.

The crisis may come to a crunch with no confidence vote due to be debated on February 22nd in South Africa’s parliament.

If Zuma doesn’t get a deal on corruption charges, he may gamble on surviving that vote.

Obstacles to forcing out Zuma

For Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the ANC and Deputy President, there are significant obstacles to removing Zuma:

  • Zuma still enjoys the support of the important KwaZulu-Natal region, its MPs are less willing to support a challenge
  • The ANC leadership is split over forcing Zuma to quit, this led them to call off a NEC meeting last week. Instead, they’ve brought forward next weekend’s meeting to discuss Zuma’s leadership

It doesn’t seem likely that the NEC will order Zuma to resign as that would risk splitting the ANC. But in the event the NEC does, Zuma would probably refuse.

There are also significant obstacles to a deal with Zuma due to political and legal opposition.

Ramaphosa can’t do a deal

Ramaphosa, standing on an anti-corruption platform, can’t do a deal with Zuma – It would be politically toxic.

The opposition Democratic Alliance, who led a court challenge to reinstate charges last year, will also oppose any deal:

“Should Ramaphosa choose to offer or purport to grant Zuma immunity from prosecution‚ the DA will not hesitate to go to court…”

Zuma has little choice but to hold out for a deal.

No confidence vote

One possibility of removing Zuma is a vote of no confidence in parliament.

This option only needs a simple majority and the result would be the president and cabinet having to resign.

Crunch point February 22

The Economic Freedom Fighters party has tabled a no confidence motion which is due to be debated on February 22nd.

It’s by no means certain that Zuma would survive a vote of no confidence. A similar attempt only failed by just 24 votes last August.

With no deal Zuma may gamble on surviving the February 22nd vote. If his gamble pays off, South Africa’s political and market volatility may extend to next year’s presidential elections…

Gary Hollands

Geopolitical analyst Tyga FX