Zuma's Zulufication of the political landscape

2009-08-29 00:00

ALOT has been said and continues to be said about President Jacob Zuma’s first 100 days in office, as is the norm in a lot of western, or so-called civilised, countries.

There have been questions about what he has achieved after taking over from former president Thabo Mbeki, via current deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Many saw it as destiny that Zuma would rise to the highest office in the land and that prophecy has been fulfilled.

The mainstream media has covered extensively Zuma’s performance, or a lack thereof, as they see it.

Gwede Mantashe has also jumped on the bandwagon by pronouncing that Zuma has fired more administrators in his first 100 days than Mbeki did in 10 years. As true as that may be, there are clearly many Mantashe’s in the ANC that still have an axe to grind with the Anglo-Xhosa.

I do not see how you can justifiably score someone over a period of their first 100 days. This seems to be just a norm more than anything else.

Looking beyond how well he has done, I will tell you what he has brought with him to the presidency. He has a humane personal touch that is as unique as his DNA.

The presidency, unlike before, gives one a feeling of being approachable as opposed to being authoritarian. For the first time, I feel that I could walk straight into the Union Buildings and have Earl Grey tea with Themba Maseko or even newly-appointed chief operations officer Jessie Duarte. On second thought, I would not drink tea with Maseko, but rather umqombothi, our own African brew.

There is also a certain Zuluness about Zuma’s approach; a “Zulufication of the South African political and administrative landscapes”.

Bheki Cele took over from former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, the founder of the non-profit organisation Friends of Glenn Agliotti.

Sandile Ngcobo is the new chief justice, while Jeff Radebe, Ruth Bhengu, Sbu Ndebele and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge have all taken key positions in government .

Even Zimbabwe incorporated Zuma’s personal touch by playing his signature tune uMshini Wam’ on Zuma’s official state visit to Africa’s worst economy.

In this country, there is a tendency to be critical from the onset, and we are only supportive when there are signs that things will turn out well. We saw this when we were awarded the rights to host the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup and the recent Fifa Confederations Cup, and now with 800-metre athlete Caster Semenya. With regard to the latter, the doomsayers said that she was a girl “boy” before she became a girl “girl”.

All the mistakes that people said Zuma would make, he has not made, not yet anyway. As the wheels of intuthuko start rolling, it is the people who face daily service delivery challenges who will determine the successes or failures of the current administration.

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