JZ, the nation is waiting with bated breath

2018-02-11 05:53

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It would not be a sign of weakness for President Jacob Zuma to learn from the leadership qualities of FW de Klerk in his hour of political crisis – if he does not see it befitting to follow in the footsteps of former president Thabo Mbeki.

In doing so, he would be heeding the counsel of Isitwalandwe and the longest-serving president of the ANC Oliver Reginald “OR” Tambo, given in Angola in 1977. What he said is as relevant today as it was then.

On that prophetic day Tambo warned: “Comrades, you might think it is very difficult to wage a liberation struggle. Wait until you are in power. I might be dead by then. At that stage you will realise that it is actually more difficult to keep the power than to wage a liberation war.

“People will expect a lot of services from you. You will have to satisfy the various demands of the masses of our people. In the process, be prepared to learn from other people’s revolutions.

“Learn from the enemy, also. The enemy is not necessarily doing everything wrongly. You may take his right tactics and use them to your advantage. At the same time, avoid repeating the enemy’s mistakes.”

Tambo’s wise words are instructive to Zuma whose tenure as president of the country has angered various sections of society because of the rampant maladministration, brazen looting of state resources, self-enrichment, deliberate paralysis of the state and the junk status of the economy. This has left South Africa and its citizenry in a dark place and it has also affected the capacity of the state to deliver services to the poor.

The widespread reactions to all of these range from service delivery protests to “Zuma must go” campaigns.

His fellow comrades and veterans of the ANC, such as Ahmed Kathrada and 101 veterans, have written open letters which Zuma has treated with disdain. The sad reality is that our beloved country is gripped with despair, doom and gloom.

Even worse, the recent violent clashes at ANC headquarters in Luthuli House, on February 5, between Zuma supporters and the defenders of Luthuli House show just how polarised the country is.

Zuma would do well to learn from De Klerk how to deal with political strife for the benefit of the country, especially if he does not have the courage to taste the bitterness of his own medicine and learn from Mbeki.

Zuma presided over the humiliating recall of Thabo Mbeki when he was left with about eight months to finish his term as president of the country.

His resignation induced a sombre mood because of his stellar performance as the president of the ANC and the country. He said at the time: “I have been a loyal member of the ANC for 52 years. I remain a member of the ANC and therefore respect its decisions. It is for this reason that I have taken the decision to resign as president of the Republic, following the decision of the national executive committee of the ANC.”

In his hour of political crisis, Mbeki showed courage and selflessness, the attributes which, so far, appear to be missing in Zuma’s leadership.

De Klerk showed these attributes when his government narrowly avoided a civil war that would have been severely detrimental to the country and its neighbours.

Remember the euphoria and hope that gripped the country when De Klerk decided on and announced the release of Nelson Mandela from Victor Verster prison and unbanned the ANC? It was on February 10 1990 in South Africa’s racial tricameral Parliament when De Klerk took almost everybody by surprise, including his fellow despots in the National Party (NP).

It could not have been an easy decision for him, going against the grain of his government and the majority of the white people. But, as the head of the state at that time, he should be given credit for his foresight and courage. I guess De Klerk is still blamed by racist conservatives and apartheid sympathisers, masquerading as the DA, for putting the nation first at the expense of their ill-gotten privileges.

Fast-forward to Zuma who is facing similar tests of character as former presidents FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki. The manner in which they dealt with their challenges should suffice as lessons for Zuma to do the right thing in the interest of South Africa’s peace and stability.

As the public outcry intensifies and pressure mounts on all fronts for him to step down as the president of the country, the questions remain: Will he learn from his predecessors, including the enemy? Will he continue digging in his heels for the benefit of his cronies and the harm of the country or listen to the ANC and the public outcry to save the country?

What is it Mr President? Show us your mettle. The nation is eagerly awaiting.

Ka-Ndyalvan is an ANC member at Akaso branch, Pretoria North

Read more on:    anc  |  thabo mbeki  |  jacob zuma

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