Nation with no compass
WHATEVER President Jacob Zuma does, he seems incapable of warding off negative attention to himself. What triggers this is to a large extent Zuma himself, and the ruling party itself.
Last week, some members of the ANC in Eastern Cape discussed the high costs the state incurs in giving financial support to his wives. It was almost as if they had elected Zuma not knowing he had many wives. They strongly advocated that the state should fund only the president's senior wife.
A few days later, ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola attacked Zuma for turning his home village of Nkandla into New York city, leaving the entire country underdeveloped.
This, Lamola said without mentioning Zuma by name, was indicative of a leader who had no sense of national priorities. Lamola argued that Zuma prioritised only his backyard.
Many ANC leaders and members are intensifying their campaign against Zuma. Even members of his own cabinet - Tokyo Sexwale and Fikile Mbalula, for example - have joined in. The cabinet is essentially split.
In addition, some ANC members are at each others' throats as the battle between pro-Zuma and anti-Zuma elements finds proxy expression in branches, regions and provinces.
Attacks on Zuma himself have been triggered by his own personality, his management of the ANC and the way he runs the country. It is not clear what the ultimate outcome of all of these will be. But Zuma has no doubt reached a point where he cannot claim he has the ultimate authority over the ANC.
This would not be a problem had it been a matter of different opinions finding expression in the ANC. It would indicate that democracy, especially the right to differ, is being exercised to the fullest. The problem with the current fiasco is that it threatens to derail the functioning of government because the ANC is entrenched in all levers of state power bar Western Cape.
The fact that a sizeable number of ANC leaders and members are questioning Zuma's credentials as a president of both the country and the ANC suggests that his legitimacy has taken a tumble. This is hardly propitious for effective governance. It does not augur well for the poor who are dependent on the government for services.
Nor does it help investors decide what to do with their money: to invest or to continue with what appears to be an investment strike. The more the ANC and government leaders are engrossed in leadership squabbles - petty and serious - the more the poor will suffer.
This while the country teeters dangerously on the brink of being rudderless. The compass must be adjusted.