Editorial: The Zuma presidency we remember

Former president Jacob Zuma Picture: Deaan Vivier
Former president Jacob Zuma Picture: Deaan Vivier

May 2009 to February 2018 is a period South Africans wish they could erase from their collective memory.

This painful time was put into motion in December 2007, when about 4 000 delegates in the governing ANC chose Jacob Zuma as the party’s leader.

Two years later, the same party nominated Zuma to lead its campaign to win the elections, which propelled the man from Nkandla to the highest office in the land.

In 2014, the same man was reaffirmed as the president of the country.

A debate about whether the past nine years have been a waste has raged over the past week, with Zuma defending himself and taking jabs at his successor Cyril Ramaphosa’s assertion that those nine years were wasted.

Of course, Zuma has every right to defend himself, but we remember what happened under his watch:

. Cabinet appointments were outsourced to the Gupta family;

. Ministers and civil servants who were opposed to corruption were shuffled out of their positions and replaced with yes-men and women;

. Corruption was a pastime as everyone felt entitled to partake in the looting fest;

. State-owned enterprises collapsed, resulting in constant requests for bailouts from the state;

. Zuma’s family benefited greatly from business deals with state-owned enterprises;

. Economic growth dropped to below 1% when other countries were nicely recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis; and

. We became the laughing stock of other nations, who could not understand how we could allow ourselves to be led and robbed by a buffoon.

Zuma was enabled by a passive ANC leadership that was too cowardly to rein him in.

So, Zuma, this is what South Africa will remember you for. Now, please just leave us alone.

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