Politics is a dirty game, and the South African President Jacob Zuma demonstrates how authoritative control emerges. The abuse of power, control, and influence Zuma has as president proves that there are no brakes to regulate the greed, corruption and self-enrichment. South Africa is governed under a constitution rated as one of the best in the world, and the president signals that the abject failure of the African National Congress (ANC) stems from this constitution. Service deliveries, the power crisis, and the untold misery of the population, is squarely placed on the Constitution faults. The failure of good governance is not about incompetence, laziness, corruption, and greed; it is all about manipulation.
Zuma is known to ramble on incoherently among the clueless supporters telling all sorts of lies and blaming the media for distorting the truth. Always loudly cheered by thousands for the crack joke about Nkandla and pay back the money mantra. It is a joke when the crowd is told to go make babies, and the ANC will pay a child grant. The popularity the president gains are through manipulation and stirrings of empty promises. Nobody asks tough questions anymore.
When desperation arises, and the ANC starts losing votes, the president will threaten the majority of supporters with the wrath of the ancestors. This is the final party hat trick of manipulating the crowds to vote for a party full of nepotism, corruption, fraud, and incompetence. Perhaps this is how Zuma defined the ‘ANC will rule forever,’ by blackmailing the masses with the scary spirits of the dead, and so people continue to vote for the corrupt ANC party.
The Classic promise the president made about fighting corruption and the biggest challenge the ANC party would undertake to resolve, is nothing more than a hollow promise the party has made for years. Zuma did manage to track down a few corrupt officials within the ANC leadership, and although it has taken years, the mystery was cracked; it is all the fault of tenders. Tenders, the president said is the root of all corruption, and this is what has messed up South Africa. Seriously, Zuma said the government would centralize the tender process through a central tender board. All this means is that the ANC is going to do nothing about leadership corruption.
The promise of how the ANC government is fighting tooth and nail to address the land issue, which is still in the hands of a select few whites, is a mandatory stir-up-the-crowds statement. When the government owns so much land and do not give to the poor masses, it is easier to target the minority. The land claims by tribal leaders who have the full support of the president, ensure that land grabs are to the order of the day.
It looks like the people forget to ask the ANC what the definition of democracy is. South Africa was a great country, and if the ANC do change the constitution, it would be to ensure that Zuma rules forever. the president might argue that a third term is needed to unite the people of South Africa. They see Zuma as a wonderful inclusive president who rules for all, just as the ANC promised 21 years ago.
Without any doubt, Zuma is skillful in politics, as he is a person who learned the tactics of power, deceit, and convenience. Zuma was head of the ANC’s Intelligence underground structures and a shrewd strategist who rules by alliances. Zuma is a survivor and has first-hand knowledge of dealing with mini rebellions from within the ANC party, the media, and political discourse.
From over 700 corruption charges, to spy type and self-enrichment, the president proves that tact and strategy overcome the battle of enemies who would like nothing more than the downfall of this man. They want a president without a matric certificate, countless public blunders, and scandals. Zuma survives because the power is not spineless and does not depend on morals. Whatever is uncovered or thrown at the president, survival is the tactical response. The man is a trained guerrilla fighter from the intelligence background of the ANC, and it would take more than neo-liberals to overthrow him.
While Mandela and Mbeki, former presidents of the ANC, may have displayed far superior qualities than Zuma, better speakers, leaders and even better human beings, it is the current president who has proved to be a better politician. There is no doubt that Zuma is by far the best dancer and singer of the trio. The president might not be a great leader with poor reading abilities, uninspiring speeches and coupled with no respect for the law, but with the power the president can overcome any defeat or challenge. Zuma does not depend on reputation, fortune or royalty, to lead, and he knows how to play the political card. Zuma might not be a good president, citizen or a good human being, but he is good in the practice of politics as a dirty game.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
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Photo Courtesy of World Economic Forum Wikimedia – Public Domain License