The Zuma hurdle: on South Africa power struggle
Ending the protracted power struggle is key to the ANC’s plans for revival
With Jacob Zuma appearing to be finally willing to resign as President of South Africa, a protracted (लम्बा) power struggle could soon draw to a close. Calls for the anti-apartheid (रंगभेद विरोधी) veteran’s exit acquired momentum after South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected leader of the African National Congress in December. Litigation in countless cases, the overhang of a 1990s arms deal and actions that undermined judicial investigations have marred (आघात) Mr. Zuma’s decade-long presidency. But the controversy that has come to define his tenure is the questionable access an immigrant Indian business family, the Guptas, gained with ANC apparatchiks (दिखते) and state institutions, a nexus widely dubbed as ‘state capture’. The financial dealings of the Guptas and their interface with the government in South Africa have tarnished (कलंकित करना) the reputation of top global accountancy and public relations firms. As this succession of scandals dampened the optimism over the post-apartheid (रंगभेद नीति के उपरांत) democratic transition, the ANC, Africa’s oldest national liberation movement, saw its support plunge (प्रवेश करना) in the regional elections of 2016. The party conference in December 2017 was viewed as an opportunity for the ANC leadership to stem the rot before the next general elections, due in 2019. But the narrow win for Mr. Ramaphosa in the party polls over Mr. Zuma’s ex-wife and preferred candidate meant the political transition was always going to be bitter.
As his supporters took top positions in the new ANC executive, Mr. Zuma brazened (खुल्लमखुल्ला) it out in the face of growing demands, within and outside the party and government, for his resignation as President. Over the past decade he has survived many parliamentary motions against his rule, thanks largely to the ANC’s reluctance to rely on the opposition for such a manoeuvre (कुशलता). Recently, the South African Supreme Court criticised the legislature for failing to hold Mr. Zuma to account, giving succour (सहायता) to those calling for his impeachment. But rather than pursue an extreme parliamentary procedure, the ANC leadership has preferred an internal mechanism to ease the President out. Mr. Ramaphosa and other ANC leaders have engaged Mr. Zuma in discussions over a speedy political transition. The postponement of the President’s annual state of the nation address, as also an emergency meeting of the ANC national executive signal that a resolution is in the making. The 2019 elections will be an acid test of the ANC’s credibility. A change of guard could also pull the government away from the populist slide of recent years. An icon of the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africa’s black majority and Nelson Mandela’s preferred successor, Mr. Ramaphosa is a pragmatist (अभिमानी). A business tycoon who has also been a trade union leader, he is well-placed to balance business interests and political imperatives (अनिवार्यता). The days ahead may prove crucial for him and the ANC.
- Protracted: to make longer
Synonyms: drag (out), draw out, elongate, lengthen, outstretch, prolong, extend, stretch
Antonyms: abbreviate, abridge, curtail, cut, cut back, shorten
- anti-apartheid: Opposed to a policy or system of apartheid.
- Marred: something that spoils the appearance or completeness of a thing
Synonyms: blight, blotch, defect, deformity, disfigurement, excrescence, excrescency, fault, flaw, imperfection, blemish, mark, pockmark, scar
Antonyms: adornment, decoration, embellishment, enhancement, ornament
- Apparatchiks: An official in a large political organization.
Synonyms: official, office-bearer, office-holder, public servant, civil servant, bureaucrat, administrator
- Tarnished: to affect slightly with something morally bad or undesirable
Synonyms: blemish, darken, mar, poison, spoil, stain, taint, touch, vitiate
Antonyms: dignify, elevate, ennoble, enshrine, glorify, hallow, magnify, uplift
- Plunge: the act or process of going to a lower level or altitude
Synonyms: dip, dive, down, drop, fall, nosedive, descent
Antonyms: ascent, climb, rise, rising, soaring, upswing, upturn
- Brazened: displaying or marked by rude boldness
Synonyms: arch, audacious, bold, bold-faced, brash, brassbound, brassy, nervy, brazen-faced, cheeky, cocksure, cocky, fresh, impertinent, impudent, insolent, sassy, saucy, wise
Antonyms: meek, mousy (or mousey), retiring, shy, timid, abashed, ashamed, blushing, embarrassed, shamefaced
- Manoeuvre: A movement or series of moves requiring skill and care.
Synonyms: operation, exercise, activity, move, movement, action
- Succour: Assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.
Synonyms: aid, help, a helping hand, assistance
- Pragmatist: willing to see things as they really are and deal with them sensibly
Synonyms: down-to-earth, earthy, hardheaded, matter-of-fact, practical, realistic (also pragmatical)
Antonyms: blue-sky, idealistic, impractical, unrealistic, utopian, visionary
- Imperatives: forcing one’s compliance or participation by or as if by law
Synonyms: compulsory, forced, mandatory, incumbent, involuntary, necessary, nonelective, obligatory, peremptory, required
Antonyms: elective, optional, voluntary, inconsequential, insignificant, nonessential, unimportant
Cease fire: on India-Pakistan LoC tensions
India and Pakistan must restore calm along the LoC and International Boundary
The 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan is now alive only in the breach, with violations intensifying (सशक्त करना) in number and much damage to life and livelihood along the border. The drift can only be arrested through high-level political intervention to save this very significant bilateral agreement between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. In the latest incident, four Indian soldiers, including an Army Captain, were killed in the Bhimber Gali sector in cross-border firing that went on through most of Sunday. These casualties are a natural extension of what has been unfolding along the International Boundary as well as the Line of Control for the past several months. As a result, 2017 has turned out to be the worst year since the agreement brought calm to the border 15 years ago. The ceasefire agreement had resulted in a dramatic drop in military casualties, and thousands of border residents had been able to return home from temporary shelters on both sides. It is important to see the 2003 agreement in the immediate context of the time. It came just four years after the Kargil war, and soon after India and Pakistan almost went to war following the December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. The agreement was historic, and a triumph (जीत) of diplomacy — Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali announced a unilateral (एकतरफ़ा) ceasefire on the Line of Control on Id; India suggested including the Siachen heights, and the ceasefire was eventually extended to the International Boundary. It was the high point of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s premiership, and his successor, Manmohan Singh, heeded (देख-भाल) the legacy.
Now, as the two countries are caught in a spiral of almost daily exchanges of fire along the border, there is a danger of political rhetoric (वक्रपटुता) acquiring its own momentum. Already, 2017 has been the worst year along the border since the ceasefire came into force, with at least 860 incidents of ceasefire violations recorded on the LoC alone. By way of comparison, in 2015 there had been 152 incidents, and in 2016 there were 228. January 2018 recorded the highest number of ceasefire violations in a month since 2003, according to estimates. According to data mentioned in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, between January 18 and 22, 14 people including seven civilians were killed and over 70 were injured in firing from the Pakistan side along the International Boundary in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts as well as along the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts. Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their border homes. Peace on the border is difficult to achieve at the tactical level by military leaders. Restoring the ceasefire requires real statesmanship (शासन कला), not brinkmanship (अस्थिरता).
- Intensifying: to make markedly greater in measure or degree
Synonyms: accentuate, amp (up), amplify, beef (up), boost, consolidate, deepen, enhance, heighten, magnify, redouble, step up, strengthen
Antonyms: abate, moderate, decrease, diminish, lessen, let up (on), reduce, subdue, tone (down), weaken
- Triumph: a successful result brought about by hard work
Synonyms: achievement, acquirement, attainment, baby, coup, success, accomplishment
Antonyms: nonachievement, bummer, bust, catastrophe, debacle (also débâcle), disaster, dud, failure, fiasco, fizzle, flop, washout
- Unilateral: (of an action or decision) performed by or affecting only one person, group, or country involved in a situation, without the agreement of another or the others.
- Heeded: a state of being aware
Synonyms: advertence, advertency, awareness, cognizance, consciousness, ear, eye, attention, knowledge, mindfulness, note, notice, observance, observation
Antonyms: disregard, neglect, obliviousness, unawareness
- Rhetoric: language that is impressive-sounding but not meaningful or sincere
Synonyms: bombast, fustian, gas, grandiloquence, hot air, oratory, verbiage, wind
- Statesmanship: Skill in managing public affairs.
- Brinkmanship: The art or practice of pursuing a dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping, especially in politics.