Can somebody please tell me what Jacob Zuma is up to?

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Former president Jacob Zuma used social media platform Twitter to snap back at ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

New parties have started popping up, especially in Kwazulu Natal, mostly initiated by pro-zuma partisans. While this may be healthy for our democracy, it calls into question why they were established in the first place. These new parties appear to have questionable leadership, radical populist agendas and hints of racism. The resurfacing and inclusion of Jacob Zuma (JZ) in recent months despite being seen as a disgrace to the nation and his party is suspicious. How did he do this?

His comeback started when Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama and pro-zuma supporters caused a charade outside the Durban High Court where JZ was being prosecuted in April last year. BLF started a #HandsOffZuma campaign in 2016 which painted Zuma as a victim of ‘White Monopoly Power’. What is important to note is that this is another ploy to paint Zuma as a saint and an advocate for radical economic transformation, a concept that has no real meaning. In terms of Mngxitama he is just another populist leader looking to gain a piece of the cake given his contradictions in the past.

During his short time at the EFF, he was a stern critic of JZ. This raises questions as there is incriminating evidence from the #GuptaLeaks emails which raises concerns with respect to the legitimacy of his party. Mngxitama allegedly met with a Gupta Lieutenant demanding funds for BLF. Zuma further used his stronghold, Kwazulu Natal, to make a comeback after Cyril Ramaphosa won ANC presidency ahead of his ex-wife, NDZ about a year ago. Zuma tried to use BLF’s campaign to prevent him from being voted out from office as president, but this thuggery obviously failed and the law prevailed.

While BLF is already registered with the Independent Electoral Commission for the upcoming elections in May, a number of other new parties such as the Mazibuye African Congress (MAC), the African Transformation Party (ATM) and the African Freedom Revolution (AFR) have also signed up. But, let’s revisit some of the reasons why the former President, Jacob Zuma was ousted out of office. Charges against Zuma have included corruption and misuse of state resources just to name a few. Now one would think this is solid grounds for a complete dismissal from the public sector but how mistaken we were given his re-emergence.

The misuse of state funds courtesy of the eThekwini Municipality has seen the Durban CBD reach a point of no return. Instead of the municipality investing money into the dire state of affairs in city centre, maintaining Zuma’s lifestyle appears to be more of a priority through his feeble attempts at being an artist.  Eventhough he is perceived to be a laughing stock for some, his supporters have vowed to support their leader. Through social media platforms such as twitter, Zuma has successfully managed to remain popular and current follow.

Jacob Zuma has denied being behind this new wave of parties in Kwazulu Natal. But the above accounts suggest a different story in that the new parties were once tied to him and the guptas. As the wheels fall off the Zuma wagon, he is desperately trying to destabilize the status quo through the introduction of new parties by his loyal cronies. All this in the hope of one of them taking over the eThekwini municipality as a way to secure a place within the ANC.

Well-known Zuma advocate,  Bishop TB Ngcobo, has started a party of his own, the AFR after he was kicked out of another party All Africa Decolonisation Congress (AADC), which he formed in December. This after he was accused by the party supporters with money laundering through churches and allegedly discussing funding for his former party with the Guptas.

Take former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, who was forced to resign due to the authorisation of a trip to India by health officials in the province. The trip was paid for by Gupta-owned company Mediosa. What is interesting to note is that Supra happens to be a member of the MAC. Supra is also a vocal JZ supporter, let alone his dealings with the Guptas.

Another controversial figure, Mzwanele Manyi, benefactor of Gupta vendor finance and former ANC cabinet spokesperson, left national government as according to him “The ANC has reached a saturation point” to join new party, ATM. Manyi had bought off AAN7 television channel and The New Age newspaper from the Guptas through the families funds and is part of the pro-zuma camp. In simple terms, Manyi was allegedly laundering the assets of the controversial family.

The recent change in leadership left South Africans with a sense of renewed hope. President Ramaphosa explicitly committed to cleaning up shop to finally do what serves the interests of people in this country. But how do these expressed commitments translate into real meaningful actions?  

As South Africans, we know that CR is an ardent critic of JZ behind his back and indirectly blames him for the state of the country through his words in the media. Well CR is no saint either, his silence during Zuma’s destructive presidency speaks louder than words. While some would say it would have been political suicide to criticize Zuma at the time, it showed that Ramaphosa is just another populist leader who cares more about his political career than the well-being of his country.

We as South Africans do not need more parties like the EFF, especially not the pro-zuma, radicalist ones, run by looters and sellers of fake dreams. What we need are new parties championed by bright young local minds with the agenda of not only redressing the inequalities of the past but more meaningful actions. Irrespective of who governs the country, there needs to be far more accountability mechanisms in place to ensure that history does not repeat itself. 

South Africa can once again become a superpower not only in Africa as well as globally. We have the potential and we can! South Africans from all spheres of life should wake up before it is too late. Look at what socialism did in Zimbabwe and more recently Venezuela and Brazil. Let’s not become another case-study of a failed state in Africa.

Waseem Bahemia is currently a student at the Journalism and Media Studies department based at the Rhodes University.