We congratulate South Africans for finally getting President Jacob Zuma to resign from office. We congratulate the new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for his patience, and the African National Congress (ANC) for its forbearance. Africa is proud of such a peaceful transition, even if it regrets ever having to contend with a president as contentious as Zuma.
We appreciate the delicate negotiations, the test of wills and Zuma’s obduracy, which made him refuse to exit quietly. Zuma was one of Africa’s most controversial presidents, but nothing really flayed him, until now. He has six wives, and a child out of wedlock. These were rarely held or used against him. He once boasted how he had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive female, and all he did afterwards was to have a shower. A shocked world soon got over its deep disappointment. He had a plethora of corruption allegations hovering around him. Yet, he stuck on to power.
That the African National Congress (ANC) finally pushed him out last week was no mean accomplishment. Many observers had thought it was impossible, considering the numerous occasions he had survived similar pressures. He had always had his way with the party. On the many instances he found himself in a tight corner, he would break into the well-known ANC revolutionary song “Get me my machine gun…” which served to remind everyone that he was a veteran ANC militant who paid his dues with a 10-year jail time on Robben Island. To him such service was enough indemnity for all his excesses. Usually, the ANC concurred, and Zuma would be forgiven.
Last week, however, Zuma’s magic failed, as the ANC pressed him relentlessly until he resigned. He was quitting, he said, because “no life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name, I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect.” ANC’s new leader and Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, was then sworn-in as president. Nelson Mandela can now rest easy that his preferred successor has finally become President.
Jacob Zuma was a charming man, a gifted performer who could sing and dance his way out of trouble. He began his resignation speech by laughing and joking with the press and wondering why they looked so serious. Those gifts partly explained his longevity in office given the numerous charges of bribery and corruption leveled against him. During the funeral of former President Nelson Mandela in 2013, international television networks could not resist flashing the images of the expansive, palatial, country mansion of Zuma, upgraded with public funds, which had then become a subject of public controversy. Eventually, the South African Supreme Court ruled that President Zuma had unduly benefitted from the use of public funds spent on his personal home, Nkandla, Kwazulu Natal, and that he had failed also to “uphold, defend, respect” the constitution of the country. The project had cost $27 million and had included poultry equipment, cattle enclosure, an amphitheater and a swimming pool. After two years of using every obstructive tactic in the courts and utilising the ANC majority in parliament to filibuster the issue, Zuma eventually apologised and promised to pay back $16 million.
Source: The Sun