Since the end of last year, South Africans began voicing their exasperation with Jacob Zuma, our president who is currently serving his second term as president. South Africans want him out now, and have expressed this through billboards, marches, viral memes and posts across social media platforms. Perhaps this mutual hatred of Zuma has even sparked new friendships, who can say.
I am not proud of Jacob Zuma. His lack of consistency in his stance on the Nkandla fiasco is offensive. I cannot fault him for English not being his mother-tongue, but it appears that he does not even prepare the speeches others articulate for him. The fact that his is remotely associated with the infamous Guptas is suspicious; we ought not to be suspicious of our leader. Perhaps I do not watch the news enough, but I have never heard him say something that has inspired me. This is the type of the iceberg; they are only a handful of problems that make their way into a demotivating number of rants about him I, along with countless South Africans, participate in.
But Nicholas Woode-Smithe, a student from the University of Cape Town, wrote an article for Rational Standard that made me think. Woode-Smithe suggests that, although Zuma’s actions are problematic, he is not solely to blame for this – we put him there. “South Africa fails because we as South Africans are complacent enough to be content as our country is raped and pillaged by small and large criminals,” he writes. It is a huge statement, one that I do not completely disagree with.
Before he became president, multiple allegations portrayed him as a criminal. We all knew this before the presidential polls were opened. I have never understood why anyone could have enough faith in him to draw that tick next to his name. Truly, I am no expert on politics, but the only way I can understand it is to consider a deep-seeded loyalty to what the ANC was and what they achieved for our country. I ought to not neglect the possibility of a fear of a dire system being re-instituted. However, I cannot understand why he came back for a second term.
Jacob Zuma is not a good leader. He emotionally manipulates the vulnerable people of this country to remain in position. He does not go out and stand up for any causes. No aspect of this South Africa is better because of his direct contribution. This country is due for some rejuvenation; it is in a very delicate state, one I consider to be a ‘growing pains’ period. To move past many of the issues South Africa faces, it needs a strong leader. It needs someone who is not too arrogant and will apologise when there is fault. It needs someone who will give, instead of takes. It is a pity that it has taken South Africans so long to realise this, but we are finally recognising that we need to get rid of our apathetic leader.
Before Jacob Zuma stepped into office, this country had many problems. He is not the direct cause of these problems, but these problems cannot be resolved so long as he is the president. An empirical example is how the rand, though never a strong competitor in international currencies, fell when Zuma fired the finance minister to make room for one of his companions in the ANC. What kind of tone is set for this country when most of what our president represents is ignored, is ridiculed, is considered vexing or outrages his people? How far could a country go when their leader is clearly not motivated by the well-being of his people?
Woode-Smithe is right; we have let this go on for too long. However, now that we are united in wanting what is best for South Africa, it is time to act. Getting rid of Jacob Zuma will not fix many of our problems. But when I believe that when he is gone, there will be hope for an evolving South Africa. When there is hope, South Africans will work towards the South Africa they believe it can be. Think of it along the principles of “dressing for the job you want”.
[Header image source: thesouthafrica.com]