Jacob Zuma has long been a divisive leader of South Africa, and as the clock played out on his final hours at the helm of that Rainbow Nation, he remained so. The African National Congress (ANC) has ordered him to step aside or be stripped of his office within two days — a decision taken at a specially convened emergency session of the highest decision-making body late on Monday evening. With typical Zuma arrogance, his initial answer was one of defiance, but the clock is well and truly ticking to end a turbulent nine years of his presidency.
Zuma’s reluctance to step aside has resulted in the ANC turning itself into convulsions on trying to figure out exactly how to remove him. In December, the ANC membership elected Cyril Ramaphosa as its president, and he has been in talks with Zuma since then on trying to end his time at the helm. That time has been marked by a series of serious fraud and bribery allegations, with a cadre of corrupt businessmen profiteering and profiting from their close relationship with South Africa’s president.
Over the last nine years, South Africa’s poverty levels have steadily increased, with unemployment running at 27.7 per cent, up from 26.5 per cent over the past quarter. Its national debt has also ballooned over the past quarter from $63.9 billion (Dh235 billion) to $66.6 billion. Crime, particularly in urban areas, is at a high, with South African police lacking the leadership and resources to adequately perform their duties on protecting communities. The ANC government, under Zuma’s chaotic and corrupt leadership, has simply failed to form policies or indeed take action to halt South Africa’s slide over the past nine years.
Some 25 years ago, when the nation emerged from the darkest days of the former apartheid regime, the late Nelson Mandela brought a message of hope, optimism and a prosperous future in the new nation.
The ANC swept to power in free elections with a message that it had the mandate and credentials to finally bring to fruition the great potential of South Africa and its mineral and natural resources. Now, the ANC is divided, unable to shake off the perception that it cannot govern and is beholden to the cult of personalities within its ranks. Zuma at the helm has tarnished it more — and it remains to be seen if indeed Ramaphosa can alter the party’s fortunes and its future.