WHAT will South Africa look like when President Jacob Zuma bids us goodbye in 2019?

The answer is pretty simple: the relentless and single-minded assault on the institutions of our democracy that he has overseen over the past five years will leave us a country whose carefully constructed democracy is deeply compromised.

Given the intensity of the assault on the office of the public protector, the National Prosecuting Authority, the judiciary and the independent media, it is possible that the country will be cowed and subjugated in five years.

We won’t be South Africa Inc, will be Zuma Inc.

The Zuma administration continues to do its absolute best to violate the most admired and necessary aspects of our democracy.

Last week, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela faced yet another assault in parliament as ANC MPs sought to discredit her. One thing is clear: for exposing Zuma on the Nkandla matter she will be starved of funds, attacked in public and subjected to harassment and bullying. No holds will be barred.

The attacks on the public protector illustrate the nature of the Zuma administration and what it is doing to the country.

Zuma and his cronies want to destroy all the institutions that make South Africa a working, proud, legitimate, democratic state where integrity and accountability reign supreme.

Since his ascendancy to power, Zuma has destroyed the Scorpions, installed compromised toadies at the head of the NPA and is in the process of ensuring that the judiciary is toothless.

It is during Zuma’s administration that the SABC has become a state broadcaster and not a public broadcaster. Independent media outlets are now seemingly being targeted to make them look and sound like the SABC.

The intention is that, by 2019, the country will live happily as anodyne news bulletins sing the praises of ministers cutting ribbons at the opening of roads and dams.

Imagine that the year is 2024.

Zuma’s tenure has been a disaster not only because he is so outrageously incompetent and conniving; it is also because that the bar has been set so low for virtually every sector of public life that we border on a banana republic.

Your children will live in a country where the public protector’s office is led by a “yes man” and the NPA rouses itself only to prosecute opposition leaders such as Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema. The newspapers will look like the Zimbabwe state press — full of stories congratulating first ladies on cooked-up PhDs and the president’s achievements as scientist of the year. This is the country Zuma wants.

Meanwhile, everything that Zuma touches at state level falls apart. Last week, we had the extraordinary news that the hapless national police commissioner Riah Phiyega has just been given four police awards — after overseeing the Marikana massacre and an increase in most crimes.

Under Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, the government’s debt was reduced from disgraceful apartheid levels (52% of GDP in 1994) to less than 30% of GDP. Under Zuma it has ratcheted up to 45.9%. Unemployment is ticking up while economic growth is getting worse since Zuma took over in 2009.

Zuma’s tenure has been a disaster not only because he is so outrageously incompetent and conniving; it is also because that the bar has been set so low for virtually every sector of public life that we border on a banana republic.

Only in a banana republic would Ellen Tshabalala, a Zuma acolyte, remain the SABC board chairman and have the gall to defy MPs who demand a simple answer: show us your qualifications.

Only in a banana republic would Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who also lied about his qualifications, be endorsed by the same SABC board led by Tshabalala as a leader of the organisation.

Meanwhile, another Zuma appointee at SAA has brought the airline to its knees. At Eskom, the Gupta family has received another R43-million freebie. It is a free-for-all. Zuma’s administration tells us it has not signed a nuclear energy deal with the Russians. Last week, The Witness in KwaZulu-Natal revealed that ANC officials held meetings with Russian officials in the Drakensberg.

Someone stands to profit massively from this manifestly dodgy deal — which, extraordinarily, has not been passed by Treasury officials — and it is most likely a member of the extended Zuma family or patronage network.

Meanwhile, state education and schools are terrible (a child died in a pit latrine this year, while teachers have to give sex to get jobs in the Eastern Cape), the economy is on its knees and the monstrosity that is Nkandla is rubbed in our faces every day.

It is a measure of the ethical and moral vacuity of the man that Zuma tells us that corruption is a Western thing and that people who complain about Nkandla should also complain about George Airport, which was once named after the apartheid monster PW Botha. I guess that is the level at which our president has chosen to pitch himself. He, too, will not cross his personal Rubicon, say sorry and “pay back the money”.

What a long five years we have ahead of us.

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