It is time to leave President Jacob Zuma alone
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Justice Malala Timeslive. 5 November 2012
Every day now, people like me have turned the man from Nkandla into a political whipping boy. We criticise him, we deride him, we stand appalled at his inanities and his actions. We rail at him. We are outraged by his sheer lack of appreciation of the office he occupies.
And rightly so. What leader of a modern democratic state built on the most admired constitution in the world stands up and rejects the same constitution, saying: “Let us solve African problems the African way, not the white man’s way?”
Is this not an African constitution? What is African law and what is an African constitution?
Or maybe he wanted to say that the African way is to build oneself a palace with bullet-proof windows to keep the rest of the Africans out when they realise they are being ripped off. Is it the African way to build oneself a bunker with taxpayers’ money?
Zuma is the worst leader the ANC has ever had. Anyone who says the Marikana massacre was a “mishap” does not deserve to occupy the highest office in the land. Anyone who tries to rewrite and erase history so spectacularly is lost. So are we.
So let us leave Zuma alone. Don’t criticise him. Don’t laugh at his gaffes. Do not weep at the sight of the emperor with no clothes. He is a lost cause. He fights merely to save his own skin, and to stay out of jail.
Point your finger instead, at the 4500 people who will arrive in Mangaung on December 15 and conclude their conference five days later by re-electing Zuma to lead Africa’s oldest and most admired liberation movement. Do not weep for Zuma. Weep for an ANC that cannot see that it made a mistake in 2007 and cannot find it in its heart, soul and mind to take corrective action.
It cannot do so because of the nature of the people who elect the president and the leadership.
The party has 1.2million card-wielding members, most of them in KwaZulu-Natal. Most of the KwaZulu-Natal members signed up after the Zuma tsunami blasted the Inkatha Freedom Party in the province out the water.
Are these members steeped in the traditions of the ANC? Are they worthy of taking forward the vision and ideals of Pixley kaIsaka Seme and Albert Luthuli?
Are they committed to a new, non-racial, democratic and non-sexist South Africa? Who are these people who, today, seem so untroubled by the idea of electing Zuma to a second term as ANC president?
In December 2005, as Zuma’s war drums began beating ever more incessantly over his removal as deputy president of the country, Thabo Mbeki addressed ANC staff on what he called the new “ANC cadre”.
He said: “It is difficult in the circumstance in which we operate to measure that level of commitment now. In the past you could tell that commitment by the willingness of people to engage in struggle even if that struggle meant death.
“Today it is not that anymore. There are so many of us who will recite the Freedom Charter, who will recite the Reconstruction and Development Programme, who will recite all the speeches of the president until you are convinced that this is a dedicated cadre of the movement.
“Nevertheless, what we still have to insist upon is that indeed this new cadre of the ANC that we are talking about must be a cadre who understands the policies of the movement, who is committed to the vision of the movement, who understands this oath that is in the constitution of the ANC.”
It is worth reflecting on the quality of those who will be in Mangaung in December. Are they people who understand the complex demands of leadership in the tough times the world is going through? Are they in Mangaung to ensure that a leader who will turn a blind eye to their corruption succeeds?
It is incredible just how many ANC leaders are bending over backwards to protect, please and re-elect Zuma, despite Nkandlagate, the spy tapes and numerous other scandals. Why?
We know that ANC members have had to be taken from shebeens, shopping malls and taxi ranks to attend branch general meetings in the past few weeks.
We know that many of them had no clue about what they were doing at those meetings.
We must therefore ask: Who are these people? Why are they taking South Africa to the edge of the abyss by voting the hapless, incompetent, slippery and clueless Zuma into power again?
Leave Zuma alone.
These ANC members are the people we should be lambasting.