A tough year for increasingly frail Zuma

2014-12-24 00:00

IT’S been a tough year for President ­Jacob Zuma, say local analysts.

In a pre-recorded interview that was aired on Sunday, Zuma told the SABC that his health took a knock after this year’s national elections.

Although he said he was now in good health, the president still appears fragile.

Almost a year into his new five-year term, latest pictures taken of him show a frail and elderly Zuma.

The president appears to have lost a significant amount of weight and experts speculate that it may be related to his diabetes or the political pressure he has been under lately.

The Witness had a look at pictures of the president taken during 2014 and asked experts to speculate on the reasons behind the weight loss.

In January the Sunday Tribune reported that President Jacob Zuma spent three days at Life Entabeni Hospital in Durban where he was admitted for an “unscheduled routine check-up”.

The paper reported that Zuma was ­visiting Dr Deena Dayalu, his cardiologist, who has rooms at the hospital.

In June, the Sunday Times revealed ­Zuma suffered from a heart condition, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The report followed an order by the ANC for the president to rest after a ­gruelling election campaign.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said diabetes and political pressure may be behind the weight loss.

“When you get into a position of power you age faster, look at what happened to Thabo Mbeki. The position comes with a lot of stress,” said Ndlovu.

Since Zuma became president, there have been two breakaway parties and the support for the ANC has dropped significantly, they almost lost Gauteng this year, said Ndlovu.

“There have been too many scandals, the likes of Ellen Tshabalala and his family members are continuously making the news for the wrong reasons. I think people around him are letting him down.”

Ndlovu said he was concerned about the ANC’s performance in the 2016 local government elections.

“Questions are being raised whether he is a liability to the party or not,” he said.

Another analyst, Protas Madlala, said: “Zuma was under pressure even before he became president, this goes back to the Schabir Shaik days. Every second week there are issues around him.”

Image consultants also took a dig at Zuma.

“He needs to wear clothes to fit his new frame. Wearing clothes that are too big only makes one look unkempt and shabby,” said a Pietermaritzburg image guru who asked not to be named.

A Durban celebrity stylist who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “The only time he looks good is when he’s in his Zulu traditional regalia. For someone who looks that sickly and frail, looking dapper may somehow make you look better.”

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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