2018 Valentine’s Day in the SADC region would be remembered as the saddest day and jubilant day in two countries that happen to be neighbours.
In the political world of South Africa, people were impatiently waiting for Jacob Zuma’s response and resignation while in Zimbabwe people were mourning the loss of Morgan Tsvangirai . As South Africans waited anxiously for Zuma’s official resignation, it was reminiscent of the day when long serving Zimbabwean president Robert G Mugabe was to address his nation in anticipation that he was resigning. He did not but ended his long musings with ‘Asante Sana’.
On Wednesday in South Africa as many civil society organizations, opposition political parties and African National Congress NEC expected their former president Jacob Zuma to resign, he earlier on in the day gave an interview with SABC reporter Mzwandile Mbenje where he did not indicate that he would resign. The social networks went ablaze especially twitter where Zuma trended the whole day for his response to the NEC’s recall or him.
In a long winding interview, Zuma claimed that he was not furnished with reasons why he should step down from the highest office in the land. He challenged the recently elected ANC National Executive Committee to give him reasons as he did nothing wrong. And that the current ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa should not abuse his newly found authority.
Zuma dared them to fire him through the motion of no confidence or impeachment and that he did not fear any motion of no confidence.
Finally after 10 pm at night Zuma came live on Television to address the nation for the last time as the president of South Africa. He told the nation that he had been elected through the process of parliament and suggested that it was unconstitutional to remove him without following the prescripts of the constitution. Zuma said he did not care about presidential perks that come with retired presidents as he did not join ANC for the perks. Perhaps Zuma had forgotten that the Constitutional Court had unanimously found that he had violated the constitution as he failed to comply with it during his ‘Nkandla’ debacle.
Remember that Zuma had apologized to the nation after he was forced to pay back the money for the Nkandla renovations which had been found to be above board by the former Public Protector Advocate, Thulisile Madonsela. The matter was latter amplified by opposition parties such as DA and EFF. EFF of Julius Malema made it clear that Zuma would pay back the money, as they became rowdier in parliament. EFF made sure that they were a pain in the butt to Zuma. They were relentless even recently moving a motion of no confidence against him.
What a wow!!! Zuma, whom we know that he had been bankrolled by the then President Nelson Mandela and had been identified as the problem child when it came to finances. He also got some financial assistance from his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik because he always ran out of funds to sustain his lavish lifestyle. It had also been reported that Zuma got kickbacks from the arms deal that caused more than 700 charges of corruption and fraud for him.
Msholozi also warned the ANC about his imminent exit from power that there would be serious repercussions for his ouster as many people would not take kindly to his political demise. He said it had happened before that when a leader is ousted from power there would be a backlash. Again what a wow!!!
Let me take you back a little bit. When former president Thabo Mbeki was kicked out of government it was not because he had violated the constitution or brought the ANC into disrepute but he did not have NEC backing. Zuma had done worse things during his tenure. He breached the oath of office as the constitutional court ruled against him in the Nkandla matter. Several downgrades happened under his leadership, economy suffered under his leadership, unemployment rose under his watch, Marikana massacre happened under his leadership, state of capture happened under his watch and life esidimeni happened under his watch.
He had survived 9 motions of no confidence against him while being the president. Indeed he had a turbulent presidency. He had no time to breathe and one thing is that he has a thick skin to weather all the storms which came against him.
Not forgetting the e-tolls that had been a bone of contention for civil society and the residents of Gauteng province, the economic hub of Africa. Zuma tried to guilt trip the nation by telling it that he joined ANC when he was young and risked his life for the freedom that the people of South Africa enjoy today.
This is the man that has dodged to face his charges in the court of law by always playing delaying tactics by using his lawyers such as Michael Hulley and Kemp J Kemp to block any move to see him in the court of laws. At some stage he even said that state institutions were used against him not to ascend to power.
Since the election of Cyril ‘Buffalo soldier’ Ramaphosa a lot of positive things have happened, such as the changing of guard at Eskom which is actually in the red when it comes to its finances. The Gupta compound was raided this week after a case had been opened in Bloemfontein High Court for the Estina Vrede Dairy project whereby millions of Rands had been embezzled by the Gupta brothers.
The report fingers a lot of senior government officials even the recently elected Secretary General of ANC Ace Magashule. The winds of change are really blowing in Mzansi. The currency is also responding positively against other currencies as one Dollar could be bought for R11.70 and shows more strength ever since Ramaphosa held the reigns.
It is such a relief that Zuma said he was resigning with immediate effect, this after lambasting his successor. I have no illusions that Ramaphosa is going to have a hard time as the leader of ANC and that of the country because there are still remnants of Zuma lackeys that are going to make life difficult for him. There are ministers who are so incompetent that if he keeps them after being sworn in he would rue the day he became the president.
Zuma has made it clear that he does not support Ramaphosa as he said ‘we will meet some day’. Was this a threat or a promise? However, if Ramaphosa prioritizes good governance Zuma is going to spend his retirement in the courts as the DA and Afri-forum would make sure that he sees his day in the courts. To some people this feels like a brand new day or year as Zuma is thrown in the dustbin of South Africa history. The error has been rectified as some people say.
Casting my eyes in the north of Limpopo let me pass my sincere condolences to the family of Morgan Tsvangirai who passed away on Wednesday after succumbing to colon cancer illness. This is heartbreaking as I had lost my mother to colon cancer, so this has brought sad memories as one promising leader passes on.
Tsvangirai had led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the past 19 years after its formation in 1999 putting a serious challenge to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in the general elections. In 2008 MDC had won the elections but Mugabe refused to step down calling for the runoff elections. Days leading to the runoff elections saw many MDC party members being attacked, assaulted and killed by Mugabe hooligans.
Tsvangirai was also the recipient of such brutality but he kept on moving forward like a true soldier that he was. He died in his boots and never gave up. He was 65 when he died a fairly young age in the African politics. It sad because Zimbabwe is going to elections in June to elect the new president of Zimbabwe and surely there is going to be a serious contest for his replacement which might see the party breaking away paving the way for another Zanu-PF misrule once again.
Yes, Mugabe is gone and in his position is his former deputy Emmerson Mnagagwa who is believed to be more ruthless despite the reform talks that he is making. Tsvangirai will surely be missed. The curtain has indeed closed for the political lives of Zuma and Tsvangirai, though in different ways while one is tragic and one was long overdue.
Sello E Morake is a freelance Journalist, based in Diepkloof in Soweto, Johannesburg. He has been a Journalist for more than 10 years writing for Newspapers such as the now defunct Free State Times, Daily Sun and Dumelang News in various capacities as a Senior Reporter, Sub-editor and Freelancer