Having been elected as President of the oldest liberation movement in RSA, President Jacob Zuma will inevitably face assessments of his leadership on a constant basis. These assessments would sometimes be positive, and sometimes negative. This is normal. Leading the ANC is no child’s play, particularly in the post-1994 South Africa.
The president and the entire leadership collective are about to finish their term of office and, as is the tradition of the ANC, a Conference would be convened to elect new leadership for the next five years. That Conference would be hosted in Mangaung in December.
Since the NEC opened the nominations on 30 September, there has been a number of wild accusations levelled at the sitting ANC President. These accusations were intended to, amongst others, discourage Branches of the ANC to nominate Jacob Zuma for president come the Mangaung Conference in December. Among these accusations, three are key; 1) that Jacob Zuma is illiterate and therefore unsuitable to lead the ANC and government; 2) that Jacob Zuma has a compromised personality and; 3) that Jacob Zuma has failed to lead the ANC.
I refer to the above as accusations because none of them have been tested scientifically. Until proven with proper tools of analysis, these remain wild accusations. But because of their presence in the public domain, and also because they influence the public perceptions about the person of the President, the ruling party and the government of South Africa, they cannot just be ignored. They need to be engaged.
The first accusation is arguably the dumbest criticism ever levelled at a sitting state president. I have never heard such twaddle in my entire life. This is because those who are levelling this criticism towards the President might be themselves guilty of the accusation themselves. The most elementary definition of an illiterate person is the one “who is unable to read and write”. Now this is definitely not relevant to President Zuma.
The president has authored and read a number of strategic documents in his life. In fact, I have personally seen the President both write and read with my naked eyes. What nonsense!
If these people doubt the President because he does not have a particular educational qualification, the criticism would be equally absurd. What qualification is required to become a President? I have contacted ALL academic institutions in South Africa. They told me that to be a lawyer, one needed to study an LLB Degree, and to be a medical doctor, one must study towards an MBCHB.
When I asked them about a qualification necessary for a president, they all laughed at me. This exposed the absurdity of the claim by Zuma detractors that he’s not educated.
President Zuma’s detractors also claim that he has a severely flawed personality. They often base this claim on his relations with the opposite sex. It is not in my nature to discuss personal matters of my elders. But due to unprecedented attacks levelled on the President’s character, I feel obliged to defend him, not because I am related to him, but because I fully understand that these attacks on the president of the state have negative implications on the ANC and the government that it leads.
When the President establishes relations with those of the opposite sex, it is always consensual. Never has President forced himself on any woman. All women agree to the advances of the President. I think this hogwash about the President’s relations with his women is an attempt to undermine the integrity and the intelligence of the women he has relations with. A mature woman who enters into a relationship with the President, knowing very well that the latter is married, is making a conscious decision. No one should undermine such a decision. The President is being unfairly criticized.
And lastly, I am yet to come across a justification of the statement that says President Zuma has failed the ANC as a leader. There is no basis for this claim. Under President Zuma, the ANC has;
- Increased its membership to more than 1.2 million;
- Nurtured a healthy and symbiotic relationship between the party and the state;
- Developed very healthy relations between itself and its Allies;
- Steered the SA government from a neo-liberal policy stance to the proletariat-friendly and pro-poor ones; e.g. IPAP2, New Growth Path, etc., as opposed to GEAR, Structural Adjustment Programmes, etc.;
- Embraced systemic social mobilization of organized business, minorities, professionals, and other key strata of society, and;
- Influenced the government to aggressively implement its key priorities of health, education, rural development, creation of decent jobs and fighting crime.
For as long as President Zuma’s critics rely on emotions and personal loathing, they may never convince Branches of the ANC to not retain him in Mangaung in December. For as long they rely on personal attacks that lack any substance, they will never achieve their goal of replacing President Zuma with any of their preferred candidates.
Until I am convinced otherwise, I believe Zuma must be re-elected in Mangaung this year.