Adriaan Basson

Mugabe goes - is Zuma next?

2017-11-21 20:27
President Jacob Zuma with Robert Mugabe. (Phill Magakoe/AFP)

President Jacob Zuma with Robert Mugabe. (Phill Magakoe/AFP)

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Let's get one thing straight: President Jacob Zuma is not Robert Mugabe.

Despite his many flaws, Zuma is far from the corrupt, murderous dictator that ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years with an iron fist.

Zuma did not kill 20 000 people to "wash away" the opposition, as Mugabe and his murderous Fifth Brigade did during the Gukurahundi massacre of 1983/4.

Zuma did not destroy his country's agriculture sector by violently driving white farmers off their farms; nor did he steal an election from the main opposition or drive 700 000 people out of their houses during a clean-up operation in 2005. 

Still, the jubilant scenes coming from Harare after Mugabe's historic resignation on Tuesday afternoon must be sending shivers down Zuma's spine. The prospect of having ANC supporters trampling on his framed photograph will cause Zuma and his supporters some degree of anxiety.

Symbolically, Mugabe's resignation will strengthen Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign for the ANC presidency in December. Because it has shown that even the worst strongman in the region is not above being toppled by the same people who put him in power.

Could this be the start of winds of change blowing through southern Africa? It will be a long road to restore Zimbabwe's dignity and pride, but today was the beginning.

Watching the joyful scenes of thousands of relieved Zimbabweans dancing on the streets of Harare made me wonder if this could be our future after a Ramaphosa victory in December.

Zuma has showed over the past ten years that he's got a stronghold over the ANC and has survived numerous attempts to remove him from office - by the opposition and from his own comrades. Under his misrule, Zuma captured state institutions to protect him, his family and friends against prosecution and abused his position to enrich Zupta Inc through the state-owned enterprises. 

Will Zimbabwe's 21/11 moment inspire ANC members, branches and ultimately delegates to vote against Zuma's anointed candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in less than a month? It is widely expected that Dlamini-Zuma, the mother of four of Zuma's children, will protect him against prosecution and continue to allow the capture of state institutions by the Zupta faction if she wins in December.

As the ANC announced an extension of its nomination process and the Institute of Race Relations released the first authoritative research showing Ramaphosa is in front, the demise of Africa's great dictator north of the Limpopo river may inspire Africa's oldest liberation movement to topple its own disastrous president.

- Basson is editor-in-chief of News24. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanBasson.

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