To underestimate Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma would be a grave error. He is a powerful man and he knows how to wield it; this makes him dangerous.
Mr. Zuma was the eldest of five children from his father’s second wife. His early childhood was spent herding cattle while the other kids went to school. After his father passed away his mother worked as a domestic worker in Durban where the young Jacob did odd jobs.
After 3 years of indoctrination under Obed Zuma, Stephen Dlamini and Moses Mabhida, Mr. Zuma joined MK – the military wing of the ANC which was only created after the NAT government banned the ANC.
A plan was hatched to send 45 young men for military training in Zambia. They were intercepted by the police near Zeerust, detained and beaten and charged with sedition. Judge Fritz Steyn found them guilty and in August of 1963 Mr. Zuma, at the tender age of 21, was sentenced to 10 years hard labour on Robben Island.
On Robben Island he held various leadership positions such as PRO, cell leader and he was elected chairman of the political committee. When the prisoners were allowed to play sports, Mr. Zuma was elected captain of the soccer team and served in several cultural leadership positions such as choral dance.
After his release from prison his role was to ensure the safe passage of recruits to and from Mozambique while he was working in a pet shop in Durban. After Harry Gwala’s arrest, Mr. Zuma left for Swaziland where he was later arrested and detained. He was released in 1976 after Oliver Tambo intervened and deported to Mozambique where he worked with refugees of the 1976 uprising.
He continued to dedicate himself to the establishment of the underground movement and in 1977 Mr. Zuma was drafted into the NEC. He subsequently underwent 3 months leadership and military training in the former Soviet Union. The South African government applied pressure on Mozambique and as a result Mr. Zuma left Mozambique for Zambia where he joined Mr. Thabo Mbeki as head of underground structures and chief of intelligence.
Apartheid was coming to an end and both he and Mbeki formed part of Oliver Tambo’s negotiation team who met the NAT government in the late 80s and early 90s. There followed a string of leadership positions which eventually saw Mr. Zuma bear the office of President of the Republic of South Africa. It is a position that he deserved through unwavering dedication to the organization and hard work…and over the bodies of others. Make no mistake that this requires leadership, courage and belief in yourself and in your own destiny. These have been the trademarks of all the true leaders for aeons and will probably still be true in the centuries to come.
So, where did it go wrong?
They say that money is the root of all evil.
Mr. Zuma has a penchant for people of dubious character. Convicted fraudster cum barfighter and ‘terminally ill’ golf player, Schabir Shaik was one such a character. Mr. Zuma was charged with fraud and rape and as a result Mr. Mbeki removed him from his post as deputy president. However, always the fighter, Mr. Zuma usurped Mbeki in a bloodless putsch which left Mbeki himself in the wilderness. He subsequently beat the allegations with a combination of influence, threats and power play which saw his enemies disappear like mist before the sun – another leadership trait.
To achieve such a feat requires admirable qualities.
In the final analysis thus: be aware of who we are talking about here. Mr. Zuma is a force to be reckoned with and the ease with which he pushes the lightweight (by his standards) Lindiwe Mazibuko and Helen Zille around is testament to his formidable presence.
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