As negative sentiment about President Jacob Zuma sweeps the country, critics are digging up whatever dirt they can on the man they would like to see ejected from his seat in the country’s highest office. In this article, News24 reviews some of Zuma’s most contradictory statements. The president’s comments are a reminder that in many instances Zuma spouts whatever comes to his head, without thinking through the consequences or whether he really means what he says. The picture adds to one that Zuma is a liar who can’t be trusted. His comments, meanwhile, are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reputational damage Zuma has unleashed on himself. This starts with the many allegations of corruption, which have been hanging over his head since before the ANC anointed him their leader. However, Zuma’s recent actions have firmed up suspicions that he is a dictator and a thief who is prepared to ruin his country’s future to help feather the nests of his friends. This is why people are protesting against him. Zuma is fast-losing respect as a national leader across South African society as his true colours become increasingly clear. – Jackie Cameron
By James de Villiers and Mpho Raborife, News24
Johannesburg – From Jan van Riebeeck to Julius Malema, President Jacob Zuma has backtracked on a wide variety of topics in his time. Has South Africa succeeded in building a non-racial society? Did he ever plan to pay back the money? And does a shower minimise the risk of HIV/Aids? Just ask Zuma. Or perhaps not.
“With time, people have tended to exaggerate the issue of racism because they say SA is still a racist country – not true. We defeated racism when we pursued the non-racial society. Our society is a rainbow nation, it’s a non-racial society.”
Zuma in January 2016 after the ANC’s 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, North West.
“We have not yet succeeded to build a non-racial society. There is a resurgence of racism in our country.”
Zuma speaking at an event marking the 24th anniversary of the death of anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani in Boksburg in April 2017.
“Same-sex marriage is a disgrace to the nation and to God… when I was growing up, unqingili [homosexuals] could not stand in front of me.”
Zuma speaking at the Shaka Day commemoration in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, in September 2006.
“I also respect, acknowledge and applaud the sterling contribution of many gay and lesbian compatriots in the struggle that brought about our freedom, and the role they continue to play in the building of a successful non-racial, non-discriminatory South Africa.”
Zuma in a statement four days later in September 2006.
On the Afrikaner community:
“A man with the name of Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape on 6 April 1652… What followed were numerous struggles and wars and deaths and the seizure of land and the deprivation of the indigenous peoples’ political and economic power.
“The arrival of Van Riebeeck disrupted South Africa’s social cohesion, repressed people and caused wars.”
Zuma during a fundraising gala dinner in Cape Town in January 2015.
“They are the only white group who can lay claim to the fact that they also fought for their freedom, against the Brits… they died in concentration camps. They made a contribution to the development of South Africa and helped make it what it is today. They are an important group. They are the kind of group that doesn’t carry two passports, only one.”
Zuma in an interview with Beeld newspaper in February 2011 shortly after being voted president.
On God and the ANC:
“The ANC is on the side of the people and God is on the side of the ANC. We cannot lose.”
Zuma during the ANC’s 105th anniversary provincial celebrations in Burgersfort, Limpopo in January 2017.
“No one will ever come from anywhere to help us, only in the olden days God could be sympathetic and send his son to come and help.”
Zuma during a Black Business Council gala dinner in September 2016.
On the role of religious leaders:
“Whether we like it or not, God has made a connection between the government and the church. That’s why he says you, as a church, should pray for it.”
Zuma urging the church to pray for politicians who insult leaders, during his address at the 33rd Presbyterian Synod in Giyani, Limpopo in October 2013.
“It doesn’t sit well with us when we see church leaders involving themselves in politics and creating problems, instead of bringing people together. What we’re really asking from church leaders is that they pray for us as leaders.”
Zuma to thousands of members of the Twelve Apostles Church in Christ during an international thanksgiving day event at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in December 2016.
On human rights:
“Sorry, we have more rights here because we are a majority. You have fewer rights because you are a minority. Absolutely, that’s how democracy works. So, it is a question of accepting the rules within democracy and you must operate in them.”
Zuma in September 2012 in response to a question in the National Assembly on wage negotiations at Lonmin mine.
“Our country now enjoys a stable constitutional democracy where everyone is entitled to equal human rights because of the sacrifices of the people.”
Zuma during the commemoration of Human Rights Day on March 21, 2017, in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape.
On the use of violence by police:
“The culture of apartheid that used violence to suppress people will have to be looked at again, and I don’t want it. We don’t want the police to use violence because they are stopping violence.”
Zuma in June 2015 at Tshwane University of Technology’s Soshanguve campus while addressing several thousand people during his Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme visit.
“We urge you to defend yourselves with everything at your disposal if you are attacked, within the confines of the law. Our laws allow the police to fight back decisively when their lives or those of the public are threatened.”
Zuma said in September 2015 during a ceremony at the Union Buildings in remembrance of police officers killed in the past year.
On the press:
“Who do you think in reality you serve when reporting: the interest of the public that you claim, as the media you stand for, or the interest of the owners and managers of the paper?”
Zuma to a group of journalism students from the Tshwane University of Technology who were visiting Parliament in September 2013.
“Government will continue to promote media freedom and to protect the right and space for the media to report without fear or favour, as has been happening for the past 21 years of freedom. Information is power.”
Zuma told the country’s senior journalists and editors at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria during a gathering in October 2015.
“It can’t be [the case that inequality] is growing as we have given grants to 15 million people. The clever people are lying. Before 1994 there was no black economic empowerment, black companies on the JSE or grants.”
Zuma said during his address to the National House of Traditional Leaders in November 2012, after criticising black people who had become “too clever” and “the most eloquent” at criticising themselves.
“Inequality is still staring us in the face. Census 2011 informed us that the income of households has hardly changed and that income of white households is still six times more than that of black households.”
Zuma said in February 2015 when replying to a two-day debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament.
On the courts and the judiciary:
“I’ll be very happy that we solve the African problems in the African way because if we solve them only legally they become too complicated. Law looks at one side only, they don’t look at any other thing. They deal with cold facts and I was complaining [about] that, but they’re dealing with warm bodies. That’s the contradiction.”
Zuma during a debate in the National House of Traditional Leaders in Pretoria in April 2016.
“Judicial independence and the rule of law are the pillars of democratic systems worldwide.”
Zuma during his keynote address at the Access to Justice Conference in July 2011.
On combatting HIV/Aids:
“[A shower] would minimise the risk of contracting the disease [AIDS].”
Zuma said in April 2006 under cross-examination after being charged with the rape of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, of which he was ultimately acquitted.
“We have to work harder, together, to fight the perceptions and the stigma. We have to expand the knowledge and understanding of the epidemic to protect affected individuals and families.”
Zuma in April 2010 after publicly revealing his HIV test results.
On Julius Malema:
“The ANC recognises talent and leadership and we give people an opportunity. Julius has illustrated that he is indeed a good leader and that he understands the people.”
Zuma in October 2009 during a visit to Malema’s hometown of Seshego in Limpopo where the ANC Youth League leader, at the time, had helped to build a house and a church.
“If for an example you are dealing with an organisation that was established by young people who were expelled from the ANC‚ they must be angry with the ANC. They must be trying their level best to fight back but they don’t know how. Democracy is not about angry young people. Democracy is about debating things. Debating what we need to do for our country.”
Zuma in February 2017 during a TNA Breakfast Briefing in Cape Town after the EFF disrupted his SONA.
“Never have I ever thought on the date when I will pay back the money. Firstly, there is no money that I am going to be paying back without a determination by those who are authorised to do so as recommended by the Public Protector.
The Public Protector has not said pay back the money. The Public Protector has said… where [there is] undue benefit to the family or myself, she thinks this money might be paid back. But this should be determined by the minister of police.
“That determination has not been done. Why do you say I should pay back the money? You don’t even know how much.”
Zuma said in response to a question by an EFF MP during a parliamentary sitting in March 2015.
“I have consistently stated that I would pay an amount towards the Nkandla non-security upgrades once this had been determined by the correct authority. I would like to emphasise that it was never my intention not to comply with the remedial action taken against me by the Public Protector or to disrespect her office.”
Zuma in April 2016 after the Constitutional Court’s ruling that he had unduly benefited from non-security upgrades to his Nkandla home.