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EDINBURGH — President Jacob Zuma is the Great Survivor, notes the Economist. Nevertheless, under Zuma, there will not be a ‘better life for all’. On his watch, South Africa has collapsed into recession, the country’s credit ratings have been downgraded, unemployment is high and rising and social tensions have been exacerbated. Although Zuma’s ANC supporters helped the corrupt ruler survive another vote of no confidence in Parliament, they aren’t so stupid it seems that they aren’t aware that Zuma is an appalling president. Not even his vocal fans can bring themselves to praise his leadership. – Jackie Cameron
By Thulasizwe Sithole
President Jacob Zuma’s name is mud in the international community. That much is clear from an opinion piece in The Economist, which notes that the most striking thing about the vote over whether to sack Zuma was the claims his supporters did not make.
The esteemed publication commented: “During the debate in parliament on August 8th, no one said: ‘Let’s keep Mr Zuma as our president because he has done such a splendid job of running the country’.
Some ANC MPs “did not mention him by name at all, so embarrassing has his record become”.
“Instead, they accused the opposition of all manner of skulduggery and, of course, racism…Shortly after Mr Zuma narrowly survived the vote, his police minister described those who failed to back his boss as “suicide-bombers”.
The Economist singled out Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, for speaking with “more conviction” about the country’s “corrupt and broken president” and Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema for being “forthright in his contempt” for Zuma.
The vote was a stark warning for the ANC, according to The Economist. “Mr Zuma mustered only 198 MPs in his defence, a woeful result for the head of a party with 249 out of 400 seats in parliament. After accounting for absentees, it seems that a fifth of ANC MPs either abstained or voted against their president.”
The Economist tells its international readers that it is “not hard to see why” some ANC MPs no longer support Zuma, not least of all that he faces 783 charges of corruption, which he denies; his next court hearing is next month.
“A report from the public protector, an ombudsman, has accused Mr Zuma and the Guptas, a family of Indian businesspeople, of orchestrating ‘state capture’. And the president’s son, Duduzane, may be called to answer questions before a parliamentary committee that is investigating allegations of graft at state-owned companies involving some of Mr Zuma’s key allies.”
The Economist highlights the many failures of President Jacob Zuma. “Such is the cronyism and mismanagement of the Zuma administration that South Africa has dipped into recession, its debt has been downgraded to junk and unemployment is a whopping 28% (or 36% if one includes those who have given up looking for work). The economy contracted at an annualised rate of 0.7% in the first quarter, even as the population swells by 1.6% a year. Meanwhile, Mr Zuma’s cronies have grown staggeringly and ostentatiously rich.”
Good news for Zuma, bad news for ANC?
The Economist underscores the perception among opposition parties that the failed vote of no confidence will “bind the ANC ever more closely in the eyes of voters to an unpopular president” – and make it easier to beat in national elections in 2019.
“If the opposition feels any private glee that the ANC is destroying itself, it is surely tempered by sadness. Few can be happy that Africa’s oldest liberation movement and a once-proud torchbearer of democracy has fallen so low,” it said.
“Even fewer relish the prospect of South Africa enduring another two years under Mr Zuma. The president has ignored court orders, fired his most competent ministers, mismanaged public funds and somehow got away with it. As for the people who believed the ANC’s promise of ‘a better life for all’, they will have to wait,” it added in the piece headed ‘Long walk to cronyism’.
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