For many it was business as usual, millions of South Africans were having their supper or watching TV on 9 December 2015. But then, President Jacob Zuma shocked the country; his party; cabinet; and then Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, when he recalled him from his cabinet position.
According to media reports, this incident highlighted the stronghold the Gupta family has on state affairs. The Guptas, who came from India in 1993 and built a business empire, it is alleged, were prepared for what was coming. Media reports have alleged that Nene was fired for going against the interests of the Guptas – especially his opposition of the nuclear deal.
Until then, investors appeared comfortable with Nene but were worried about the economy. His firing worsened their sentiments on South Africa, and since then the economy has been on shaky grounds.
The rand has had wild swings that even the re-deployment of Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister hasn’t helped. It is clear the business-political nexus is undermining the country.
President Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas is worrying not only his erstwhile supporters, but even more his foes. His son, Duduzane, is a business partner of this controversial family. His father is adamant that he is the only one in charge of this country.
But yet the revelations of this week hang heavy on everyone’s minds as to whether there is state or presidential capture. Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas, alleges the Guptas asked if he could take over from Nene, an offer he rejected.
Former Eskom Chairman Zola Tsotsi, ANC MP, Vytjie Mentor, former cabinet minister Barbara Hogan and Ngoako Ramatlhodi allege they received approaches by the Guptas.
Whether perceived or real the Guptas’ alleged capture of the state needs to be dealt with.
The country needs to see leadership take hold now from President Zuma.
The next few hours, days and even weeks could be a defining moment for the country. The time is now to show who the real master of South Africa is and regain investor confidence.