Mandela death takes heat off SA's Zuma - for now

2013-12-06 17:52
President Jacob Zuma (File, Sapa)

President Jacob Zuma (File, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - A week ago, South African President Jacob Zuma was a leader on the back foot, ridiculed in a front-page cartoon by a newspaper accusing him of blowing R210m of public money on a security upgrade to his private home.

Seven days later, he has gained some political respite through the death of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, an event of such enormity in the "Rainbow Nation" that Zuma's troubles could be banished from headlines well into next year.

Seldom comfortable in set-piece events, Zuma delivered the news of Mandela's passing late on Thursday with rare gravitas - a very different figure from the cartoon character depicted sipping a cocktail and floating in a pool of cash in last week's Mail and Guardian newspaper.

The weekly dealt Zuma a serious blow with a report alleging the security upgrade to his Nkandla home included a cattle enclosure and swimming pool - referred to in state documents as a "fire pool" on the grounds it could double up as a water reservoir for fire-fighting purposes.

"It's been a very tough couple of weeks for Zuma, this week in particular with all the fallout from Nkandla," said William Gumede, a political analyst at Johannesburg's Wits University.

"But Mandela might offer him some kind of reprieve. At least people's minds are off him for the time being."

The ANC has stood by Zuma over the Nkandla accusations, saying it believed he had done no wrong. The president's office has not commented.

'Day in History'

The 101-year-old African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, is also likely to make political hay out of Mandela's passing, especially with an election less than six months away.

Although there is no chance of the former liberation movement losing its overall majority in Africa's biggest economy, its share of the vote has been waning since the advent of democracy. In 2009 it won fewer than two thirds of votes for the first time.

With so-called "Born Free" post-apartheid voters coming on to the electoral roll for the first time in 2014, unencumbered by the emotional ties of their parents to the liberation struggle, analysts say that percentage could drop sharply.

However, Mandela's death and the 10-day funerary proceedings that are set to follow are likely to serve as a reminder to young South Africans of the huge sacrifices made by "Madiba", as he is affectionately known, and his party.

Businessman Philip Sikhumbuzo, aged 35, reflected the feelings of many when he woke his two small children in the middle of the night and took them, still in their pyjamas, to Mandela's Johannesburg home minutes after Zuma's announcement.

"It's late but this is one day in history and I want my children to remember who Mandela was," the 35-year-old told Reuters.

No Comparison

However, putting Mandela front and square in its election campaign also carries risks for the ANC, not least because it will merely highlight the yawning gulf in stature between South Africa's first black president and its fourth.

Besides the Nkandla imbroglio, Zuma's five years in office have been tainted by scandals and gaffes, from the fathering of a love-child with the daughter of a close friend, to a dismissive quip about the state of the roads in nearby Malawi.

Before he came into office in 2009, the polygamous Zulu traditionalist had a record that prompted Germany's Stern magazine to refer to him as "The Black Berlusconi", a comparison to the scandal-plagued Italian politician.

He was tried in 2006 for rape. Although he was acquitted, he admitted he had failed to wear a condom despite knowing his partner was HIV positive, and had taken a shower after sex to minimise the risk of infection, raising serious questions about his judgment.

Three years later, he escaped trial for corruption relating to a multi-billion arms deal when state prosecutors withdrew charges just days before the election.

Mandela, by contrast, was held up as a pillar of probity and virtue, a man who, on trial for his life, stood up in the dock in 1964 and declared he was prepared to die in his quest for a democratic and free South Africa.

"The ANC mobilisation and public face will be very much represented by Mandela for now, so it does allow the focus to go off Jacob Zuma, and in the election the ANC will in effect be fronting itself with Nelson Mandela," said independent political analyst Nic Borain.

"It's an appropriate strategy given the kind of trouble the president has been in, but there is a downside to that - that the comparison between the two becomes impossible to ignore."

Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

 



Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nelson mandela
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
144 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Newlands - 07:31 AM
    Road name: Newlands Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bowwood Road
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 07:19 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Constantia Main Road and the Woolsack Drive exit
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.