Zuma years will be hard to remember

President Jacob Zuma Photo: African News Agency/ANA

With so much happening and not happening lately, one is spoilt for choice to make a comment on the current happenings.

It would seem that easy to just pen anything but any writer worth his or her salt, has to dig deep in his or her thoughts and do a proper research on the subject matter. There has been a lot of talk that the African National Congress NEC wants to recall President Jacob Zuma from office before the end of his term. However, Zuma is not giving in; he wants to finish his term unlike what he did to former President Thabo Mbeki after he was elected President of ANC in Polokwane in 2007. The recent developments are so fluid that by the time you read this article many things would have happened.

It was rather incredible that someone with so many scandals falling off from the closet could be given an opportunity to lead such a glorious movement. Zuma proved to all and sundry that he was a political ‘Tsunami’ that did not only destroy its detractors only but even comrades on the way to assuming state power. It is a well known fact that Zuma did not advance in school but this did not stop him from outfoxing many of his educated comrades who got tertiary education.

Despite all the challenges that he was involved in due to his actions most of the time, Zuma would be remembered for his survival skills as he battled it out in courts starting from when he was Deputy president to Thabo Mbeki. Many people had written Zuma off when the rape allegations surfaced in 2005 but surprisingly his court appearances became mini rallies where the supposedly Zuma enemies were insulted left, right and centre. He was then acquitted of the rape charges even though he did not deny the fact that he did have sexual intercourse with the victim and then showered.

Even the T-shirts bearing the face of Mbeki were burnt infront of the cameras during Zuma’s court appearances. Zwelinzima Vavi, Julius Malema and Blade Nzimande spared no one a tongue lashing who dared exposed Zuma’s many flaws. But today they are ones of the harshest critics of Zuma years in presidency yet they were the staunchest cheerleaders of ‘Msholozi’. Zuma had portrayed himself as a simple, ruralitarian individual but he proved to be the most cunning human politician in South Africa.

Some of his current detractors once said they would ‘kill for Zuma’ and they wanted him the way he was. And added that his troubles were political, would rather be resolved politically instead of going to the courts to get the resolution and interpretation of the law. In 2007 Zuma won a fierce battle to become the president of ANC after beating down Mbeki hands down in a bitter-sweet fight to the top.

Indeed Zuma is like a box of Pandora box, he got so many faces and layers it would require a scientist to discern, who really Msholozi is. Here is someone who once got jailed while young while fighting for the liberation of this country, escaping through the borders of South Africa to Botswana until he arrived in Zambia until he was made the head of Intelligence.

Being head of Intelligence is a big achievement for anyone because you are privy to the information that no ordinary member of the society can have. This Zuma’s past seemed to have worked in his favour as many would not dare say something negative about him without facing serious consequences.

Zuma returned to South Africa just before the first democratic elections and according to one of the books written about him, he was just a broke chap who was assisted by his comrades and shady characters to get his life together. He was even made MEC of Economic development planning and Tourism in KZN. He was then later appointed as the Deputy President of ANC and South Africa before becoming the president himself in 2009 after his party ANC won the elections with a reduced majority.

Zuma made a lot of mistakes during his term in the office and some pundits had often said his scandals would have rendered him in the history books of the dustbin if he was in another country. First the KZN court had found that his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik had a ‘generally corrupt relationship’. The court sent Shaik to 15 years in prison for corruption and fraud.

However, Zuma had been in the courts in and out trying to squeeze the little freedom that he could enjoy for a while Shaik had languished in prison. Schaik was later released on medical parole but many people did not believe him at all that he was indeed sick.

Just recently The Director of Public Prosecutions said they were still considering bringing the matter to the courts of law yet the high court had found Shaik guilty and sentenced him to prison. Zuma is a polygamist who married to four wives, was widowed and divorced and still had time for extra-marital affairs as he sired more children out of his marriages.

Zuma got into trouble was again as a sitting president by building the infamous ‘Nkandla Palace’ or homestead as some critics said. The opposition party EFF made a lot of noise during the State of the Nation Address asking him to pay back the money. He got money from some obscure Venda mutual bank to pay of his debt but people still did not believe him.

During his tenure, unemployment reached beyond 25 percent, the country was downgraded several times, the Rand reached lowest levels when compared to the US Dollar and many companies including mines shed jobs.

Zuma broke ranks with the commonwealth after the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who was or still wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity was let off to return home. South Africa had been the signatory to the Roman statutes that established the ICC.

There are probably two good things that Zuma did during his presidency, which are the rolling out of HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral that are used by people living with HIV/AIDS. It is good because people are able to get the pills for free from the hospitals and they are able to live longer. This means there are no longer many deaths that people used to witness.

Zuma dropped the mic as the young ones would like to say late last year a few hours before the 54th ANC conference that saw Cyril Ramaphosa being elected president of the party after beating Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to the position, by announcing free Education.

Many people have been asking questions as to where would the money to pay for students at Universities and FET colleges would come from when the students enroll for various disciplines at institutions of higher learning.

Many people including myself had waited for the 2018 State of The Nation Address but it looks like there has been a postponement to the SONA, which had been characterized by EFF members interrupting Zuma until they are chucked out of the chambers for asking legitimate questions but at the wrong time.

Zuma, one would have hoped that he would be glad to just retire without screaming and kicking so that people could carry on with their normal lives but Zuma is having the last kick of a dying horse. It is alleged that he might fire Ramaphosa as his deputy in the government.

Perhaps he is trying to show the country that he is still in charge eventhough ANC now has a new president, Cyril Ramaphosa who has been a bit too gentle to Zuma. Zuma would not be remembered for calling educated black people ‘Clever blacks’ and probably not his signature laughter ‘he, he, heeeeee.

This is the man who could have easily been a member of the Blacksmith Black Mambaso because he can really sing and dance too. Who can forget ‘awulethu Mshini wami’ song? Whenever Zuma was in trouble.

This is the man that brought you the Guptas who have been accused of capturing the state and siphoned money to Dubai. There are allegations that Zuma has bought a house in Dubai but he has denied it saying that he would retire to Nkandla.

Ourvoi el president!

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 and Sub – editor