FORMER President Jacob Zuma finally left office last night in what has been a painful four or five years, with the last year perhaps being the most excruciating. Frankly, it was just too painful to watch and the last month-and-a-half even more so.
The Sunday Independent’s Editor Steve Motale, when he was still at the Citizen, penned an apology to Zuma in which he spoke of the machinations by the media against the former president. They never liked him from the onset, he said. He had not gone to formal school and had come into office with allegations of corruption anyway.
The media and elite’s hatred for Zuma endeared him to the rank and file, some of whom were inspired by the uneducated man from Nkandla who rose to become the president of the country.
Having been fired by former President Thabo Mbeki as the deputy president in 2005, Zuma clawed his way back into politics to beat Mbeki in Polokwane in what was a brutal defeat from which Mbeki people never recovered.
Leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) have always been in the back pocket of one businessman or another. While former presidents Nelson Mandela and Mbeki aligned themselves with white monopoly capitalists in the form of the Oppenheimer and Rupert families, Zuma went with the Indians; his former financial advisor Shabir Schaik who, through a dubious parole, currently serves his sentence for corruption & fraud outside prison; and the Gupta family.
Apart from the litany of allegations of corruption against him, most of which are currently in the courts, Zuma’s administration has delivered some small consolation for the poor; the world’s largest roll-out of antiretrovirals and recently, free education. After 24 years in power, this is all the ANC could deliver to its people. The inequality gap is stifling, with the rich getting richer and the poor struggling to put bread on the table. Corruption is rife and it’s not only committed in the corridors of the public sector as many would like us to believe, but the private sector too.
But what for me has been the success of the Zuma era is a change in the way we view the world today. Due to his foreign policy, shunning the Western financial hegemony and looking to the Eastern bloc through Brics, Zuma has managed to move a section of very vocal people towards challenging the status quo. We’ve heard them demand a free, quality and decolonized education. They called for radical economic emancipation, the state bank an a review of the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank. They got all of those at the ANC’s national conference in December.
He has inadvertently spearheaded an alternative voice for the people, within which there’s a rise in black consciousness – awareness for and pride in blackness. He leaves behind the Woke Generation which will vigorously demand the implementation of the progressive policies accepted at the last ANC national conference.