Lack Of Water
According to the Fragile State Index for 2017, South Africa is at an elevated warning for possible instability. It’s FSI score is 72.3, up over 20 points from just 10 years ago. This shows that some current events are threatening the stability of a country that was previously relatively stable compared to its neighboring countries.
Cape Town, one of South Africa’s largest cities, is running out of water. Those who live in Cape Town are told to limit their showers to 90 seconds, according to CNN. Cape Town is in what is being described as “the worst drought in more than a century.” With more than four million residents, the drought may lead to extreme dehydration or even death. Beginning next week, residents are limited to about 13 gallons of water per person per day, which is about the size of a standard kitchen trash can. This water has to be carefully divided up into water for cooking, hygiene, using the restroom, dishes, drinking, as well as other every day activities such as giving water to pets. By April 12, Cape Town officials believe the city will be entirely out of usable water. The dams holding the city’s water supply are already drying up, according to CNN.
Changing Political Authority
There are also some parties strongly opposing South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and threatening to kick him out of office during South Africa’s presidential election next year, according to Reuters. Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the African National Congress, announced, “We are in a new era…Many of the business leaders that I have met here have said they are buoyed by this new mood in the country” at the World Economic Forum, according to Reuters.
Zuma lost his leadership position over the ANC to Ramaphosa, and many within the party are questioning if he should be allowed to remain in power until the next election as depicted below in the political cartoon by Zapiro.
Zuma has instructed an inquiry into government corruption of Cabinet ministers and members of the powerful Gupta family, one of the wealthiest families based in South Africa, as well as an investigation into the rumors of Zuma’s own misuse of power. According to News24, the Gupta family is accused of using their wealth and status in the higher South African circles to influence Zuma in who he appoints as executives. The Gupta family is also accused of using Zuma to gain government contracts, according to Al Jazeera.
The ANC recently confirmed that they were discussing kicking Zuma out of office ahead of the upcoming election, but ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said, “There are no timelines…we engage, we discuss,” according to The Telegraph. Magashule also said that the ANC wants to move forward and make South Africa a better, less corrupt place and will “act decisively.”
“We focussed on education, land, agriculture, reviving the economy and making sure as we move forward we focus on issues of health,” Magashule said.
If Zuma does not resign, as some ANC members have called for, he could be forced out of office through an impeachment or a motion of no-confidence by parliament. The ANC could also recall him, which would force him to step down, according to The Telegraph.
Ramaphosa will likely become the next president of South Africa should Zuma be removed as president, according to Al Jazeera.
The Downfall of the Gupta Family
As previously mentioned, the Gupta family is one of the most influential families in South Africa. The are embroiled in not just the Zuma scandal, but also in a court case where members of the family allegedly profited $20 million USD from a program meant to help poor farmers, according to The Globe and Mail.
One prosecutor described the program as a “well-orchestrated plan” to take money from the government that provided a cover for fraud, theft, and money laundering meant to benefit members of the Gupta family.
The Globe and Mail also found that this scheme came to light over four years ago, but the Gupta family were originally cleared of any wrong doing. Zuma’s apparent imminent departure of office seems to be why members of the Gupta family are just now formally be accused of wrongdoing.