The legacy of Zuma?
Shortly before the Municipal Elections in 2006 the ANC had a ‘off the record’ information session at the Sunnyside Park Hotel in Johannesburg.
After Joel Netshithenze briefed everyone on the Mbeki government’s plans, everyone sat down for the meal and by sure luck I ended up sitting between Naledi Pandor and Thoko Didiza, both cabinet ministers at the time.
“Never, never, never ….. will Jacob Zuma be the president of the ANC!” said the two (highly effective and efficient) ministers at the time. His arrogance, deceit and the manner, in which he does things, do not fit into the hierarchy of the ANC. Even the women’s league of the ANC at the time didn’t want to know anything about him.
This happening in the midst of the fierce succession struggle that ultimately resulted in Mbeki losing it!
Yesterday Zuma was inaugurated for his second and most probably last term of office as President of the Republic of South Africa that he has actually been since December 2007 when he defeated Mbeki at the conference of the ANC at Polokwane, and took control of South Africa.
The inauguration was a grandiose affair with Grippen fighter jets and a 21 gun salute with a lot of pomp and ceremony.
Zuma’s term of office so far is everything but grandiose to say the least.
Ten thousand Sappi trees has been consumed by the printing presses in South Africa to write about it, and the Public Protector even as recent as this week confirmed that Zuma is being investigated for his role in the development and spending of taxpayer’s money on a town, within 3 kilometers from his infamous Nkandla at a total cost to taxpayer’s of R 2, 0 billion roughly estimated, that could ultimately be much more.
One need to wonder what Zuma was wondering or thinking about at the time that he took the oath of office? Surely it can not only be to keep him out of prison?
The government and its five goals for South Africa are much too wide and ambitious.
Chose one or two – priorities and focus on them as the president that will be remembered to have changed and corrected education or the breakdown in supply of medicine in health service and then you have a legacy!
Five years later – and at the brink of a half a decade of the Zuma government- there is little sign of any kind of legacy, not in education, health care or the economy. What aggravates the situation is the undermining of Zuma of the legal processes in the country, the elimination of the powers of the parliament and its legal obligation, and the abuse of the state for the benefit of the party concerned.
Zuma still has an opportunity to leave a legacy, as his predecessors did: reform the labour market, negotiate universal health care, secure food supply, better mathematics results in schools, there are enough option on the table for him to tackle and do.
But it is unfortunately true that Zuma has never had any real driving force to do something right in the years before.
On Wednesday, in parliament, when Zuma was nominated to be the fifth democratic president of the country, is was Pandor – the same Pandor of the Sunnyside Park Hotel in 2006 – that stood up to defend Zuma.
And Didiza is back, maybe even in Parliament.
The next five years for all we know, will be exactly the same as the five years before.