A recent report by City Press detailed how President Jacob Zuma refused to heed calls by the ANC’s integrity commission to resign, believing only he could stop the West from capturing the ANC.
His defiance and belief that only he possesses the power to ward off threats to the organisation show narcissism and paranoia displayed by dictators, prompting the question: Is South Africa watching the making of its own tyrant?
Zuma’s administration can be likened to baking a dictatorship-flavoured cake. Over the past few years South Africans have watched Zuma tick off the ingredients of the recipes in a book that could be called How to Make an African Dictator.
The ingredients he has collected so far include: a collapse of disciplinary systems, fearmongering and paranoia, an exaggerated mandate, no distinction between personal and private property, and demonising the opposition.
Zuma’s defeat of oversight structures such as the ANC’s integrity commission and, in part, Parliament, exemplifies one of the core aspects of dictators — once in power there is no disciplinary structure strong enough to get them out.
Prior to its contact with Zuma the integrity commission was a competent structure that brought leaders such as the ANC’s former Western Cape chairperson Marius Fransman and former Northern Cape chairperson John Block to book for bringing the party into disrepute.
But the commission’s attempts to deal with Zuma and his negative effect on the ANC suddenly saw it become a questioned and highly criticised structure in the party.