What change does Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma bring?

2017-04-07 19:09

What change does Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma bring to South Africa? This is a question I asked myself when I saw a tweet (later deleted) from her account. Dlamini-Zuma has returned to local politics after her term as AU Commission chair ended. And she is giving hints about the kind of stateswoman she would be should she win the ANC presidency in December and go on to win the South African general elections in 2019. As many of her critics expected, she appears to be sympathetic to her troubled former husband, President Jacob Zuma. She suggested that members of the ANC should defend  party decisions after senior party reps publicly criticised her ex husband's latest scandal that has seen 2 credit rating agencies downgrade South Africa to junk status.

The second time Dlamini-Zuma, perhaps not sympathetic to Jacob Zuma but very much speaking his language on the judiciary, she said the State must strengthen its legal institutions because the main opposition party has been using the courts to govern. She, like her former husband, appears to have a problem with the law. If the State, and mainly President Zuma, stopped violating the constitution of the Republic and gave it the respect it deserves from people who claim to be leaders, perhaps the opposition would not be running to court and winning most of their cases against them. They win purely because the evidence before the courts supports their claims that State power has been abused.

Then when thousands marched against President Zuma, she rubbished march organisers in a tweet that was deleted from her account after a few minutes. While she has not spoken much on policy issues, she does appear to be representing continuity than change. The country is getting messier and poorer every day her ex husband remains in power yet she seems unbothered by the current state of affairs when she wants to lead South Africa come 2019.

While many people have suggested that she should be judged based on merit, as a woman standing for a leadership role, not just by her association with the man she hopes to replace, Dlamini-Zuma has just made it easy to keep associating her with Jacob Zuma. She, like him, is not pleased with South Africa's judiciary. She clearly does not see any reason for people to demand Jacob Zuma's resignation even after the constitutional court ruled that "The President thus failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land" after the highest court in South Africa ordered President Zuma to pay back some of the public money spent unlawfully renovating his private home. Her silence on this, the violation of our supreme law, and the complete disregard for the constitutional court's ruling that found President Zuma, with the assistance of the National Assembly, undermined a constitutional body. And that perhaps tells us more about the kind of Presidency we can expect from her if she maintains her silence on the matter. A presidency that tolerates such violations.

In her presidential campaign, supported mainly by her ex husband's supporters in the ANC, she will no doubt speak about poverty alleviation, jobs, transformation and all the nice things including corruption. Things many South Africans have heard before. The true test of her leadership should she win the ANC presidency will come when she runs for the South African Presidency. Then she will be facing not one, but two main opposition parties that have, together with other smaller parties, taken control of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Nelson Mandela Bay in the ANC's worst electoral defeat to date. The local government elections, although voter turnout tends to be less than general elections, signalled that the ANC's will not govern South Africa until Jesus Christ returns as their current leader has suggested on many occasions.

The election results show an ANC that is being painfully dragged out of power one city at a time. The party obtained only 53.9% nationwide. Even more interesting was the result in South Africa's most populous province, Gauteng. There the ANC got less than 50% of the vote which makes it more likely to be the 2nd province to be controlled by the opposition come 2019. With the current state of affairs, growing unemployment rate and inequality, rating agencies downgrading the country for international investors to start looking elsewhere to invest, a Dlamini-Zuma presidency would have an awful lot to deal with and may well see her lead the ANC out of the Union Buildings. This is not just for her, but for anyone that replaces President Zuma.

They will inherit a broken ANC that has alienated its founding values in favour of a ruling elite committed to looting public resources. And they will also inherit a broken society that can only be rebuilt once the ANC is voted out of power. In essence, Dlamini-Zuma brings nothing new at a time that requires drastic change in the way South Africa is governed. I hope for her sake she is not blamed for the ANC's electoral losses when it has been her former husband supported by his comrades in the leadership of the ANC who have caused the party's decline. But then again, she may not win the ANC presidency purely because she doesn't represent change. When President Mbeki was voted out of the ANC presidency, his detractors demanded change. Maybe Dlamini-Zuma challengers need to start speaking about change.

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