When I was fretting recently about consequences of South Africa’s internecine political power battle, an insider told me to relax. The top team at Treasury, he confided, have a plan should deeply compromised President Jacob Zuma make another run at “capturing” the national reserves. They called it the “nuclear bomb” option, something so drastic it will only be effected should Zuma try to eject SA Treasury’s respected leader, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Events of the past few days suggest the Treasury’s collective hand is now hovering over that figurative red button. Gordhan’s refusal to appear before the Hawks triggered an even more aggressive reaction from the Zuma camp. So Gordhan publicly spilled the beans on the role of the Gupta family – and went one step further yesterday by effectively accusing Eskom’s management of shielding the Guptas from overdue investigation.
Treasury’s “nuclear bomb” option is apparently so powerful that it guarantees if Gordhan goes, so will the country’s credit rating (and Rand, and stock market, etc…). Hitting the button will also see the end of Zuma, taking the country to a rock bottom some say is a small price to pay. Hopefully it is not required. But without doubt SA is rapidly approaching the end game in the Zuma v Gordhan saga. And in the short-term at least, it’s a game where nobody wins.