Guest Column

Dispelling the delusions of a post-Zuma Utopia

2017-04-13 12:10


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Oliver Dickson

Let’s not be naive and assume that Jacob Zuma is going to leave office because a couple hundred thousand people took a day off from work and took to the streets and sang in three part harmony urging him to step down. That’s not quite how politics of power works. 

Nor is the dissent within the ANC strong enough to get rid of Jacob Zuma. Gwede Mantashe, much by the prophecy of Julius Malema, has already changed his tune and is squarely back in Zuma’s corner. 

The ANC parliamentary caucus will once again vote in an echo of Zuma’s defence – he has had enough time to refocus that group, Jackson Mthembu – ANC parliamentary leader has softened since the midnight reshuffle – and the NEC are too afraid about the security of their own smallanyana skeletons to enact any meaningful and impactful action against the tyranny of Zuma. The ANCWL was never not going to support Zuma, and the ANCYL will sing for their meals to whatever tune they’re told to sing to. 

The worst thing is to think Jacob Zuma is politically stupid. He may just be the most politically genius person of our time. And the sooner we realise just how smart and tactful he is, the better prepared we will be for him. He definitely pre-empted the backlash he is facing right now and he has adequately prepared for. Unfortunately, we will not be getting rid of Jacob before the end of his term of office. And even his “end of term” remains questionable. 

Importantly, we need to sincerely and accurately interrogate whether Zuma really is the centre that holds together all South Africa’s problems, and at least the biggest of South Africa’s problems. 

The tone of the anti-Zuma protests seems to suggest that if we get rid of Zuma, our problems will evaporate into thin air. Somehow our collective naivety has led us to believe that in the absence of Zuma our economy will grow between 3 and 5 percent year-on-year; the poor masses of Diepsloot and all apartheid spatial planning resultants that resemble the make of the violent poverty of the majority of South Africans will finally wake up to jobs; suddenly women will be safe on our streets, blacks will get the land back, fees will fall and corrupt state officials will spend their time behind bars instead of being promoted the more corrupt they get; racism will disappear and South Africa will wake up to the surprise of an egalitarian Utopia that the timbre of Mandela’s voice had us believing in all along – and that all of this was just a bad dream.

The reality is that none of that will happen. Corruption lives and breathes beyond Jacob Zuma. The ANC only continues to survive as an organisation if and only id those who occupy positions of power and leadership equally participate in its post democratic culture of corruption. If you dare challenge that system, you will be gotten rid of. 

Julius Malema is yet to explain to the country how he ended up owing SARS the millions he has been required to pay back off of his R20 000 salary as president of the Youth League and he is yet to sincerely apologise for that. We can’t expect him to lead any differently when he has failed to own up to his own mess. 

The DA is yet to account for its own share of irregular procurement practices in the Western Cape and how it also took money from the Guptas. Importantly, the companies in corporate South Africa who have been implicated in corrupt and dishonest business practices by the Competitions Commission are yet to ask for forgiveness for their share of misdeeds. 

Putting aside corruption, is it genuinely Jacob Zuma’s fault that the financial sector remains untransformed? How can it be that the JSE is still strongly in the hands and control of the white minority of South Africa? 

Is it Jacob’s doing that black people are treated like sub-human inconveniences at the hands of white people who, on the daily, pay black people less than their white counterparts who are equally as qualified as them doing exactly the same job as them and that black people are only hired in corporate South Africa when the companies realise their BBBEE rating is in trouble. 
These are things that we all (well, at least the affected parties) will continue to echo at the picket lines even after Zuma. Unemployment will remain the reality of the black youth in South Africa as long as the structure of the economy remains untransformed and the majority of the land in the hands of the few. 

Zuma and his omnipotent network remains a cancer that eats into the fibre of South Africa, but to reduce the problems of South Africa to him is disingenuous to the continuous structural inequality of South Africa that remains drawn along racial and gender lines.

Crucially, we then need to sincerely ask ourselves, are we protesting against Jacob Zuma or are we also protesting against our collective complicity in scourge of South Africa. Because if we don’t see ourselves as contributors to the problem – particularly if you are White and if you are a man – then any protest against Zuma will be in vain. We need to dispel the delusions of a post-Zuma Utopia. 

- Dickson is a socio-political analyst and an award winning competitive debater currently ranked Africa's nr. 1 debater. Follow him on Twitter: @Oliver_Speaking.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  corruption


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