When Presidents take their oaths of office to begin their presidential terms, they begin with fairer levels of integrity, humility and more importantly the desire to serve their compatriots to the best of their abilities. But by the time they leave office, these virtues are shredded to the point where they are irredeemable. Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma are the cases in point. Two liberation struggle participants in Zimbabwe and South Africa in the form of former Presidents Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma respectively fell from hero to villain in spectacular and dramatic fashion within three months of each other. In this fall, one similar aspect of similarity emerged: they felt a great deal of unpardonable betrayal by their comrades in arms. In Zimbabwe, Uncle Bob should have felt the deepest betrayal because he had been in the trenches with his pusher President Mnangagwa whom he had earlier fired from his government. For Jacob Zuma (JZ), he may be feeling that his own pusher President Cyril Ramaphosa (CR) does not possess liberation credentials to have pushed him out of the Union Buildings. All in all, Uncle Bob and JZ are rattled to the marrow by their pushers. They will be deeply and eternally hurt to their graves. That said; they are the architects of their downfall. JZ is bitterly complaining even in his sleep about the failure of CR to provide him with reasons for his recall. He conveniently forgets that when he orchestrated and succeeded in the recall of Thabo Mbeki back then, he never provided him with such. He has fired so many ministers without providing reasons. He wants to be treated like an ordinary employee who is unfairly dismissed who in turn approaches the Industrial Court to seek redress. JZ knows very well that his political fate was immediately sealed when CR won the presidency of the African National Congress (ANC) at its 54th conference last December. Technology caught his stone-faced posture as soon as the results were announced.
Anybody who follows South African politics will be well aware of JZ’s self-created downfall in view of his scandal-prone presidency. Notable amongst these are a rape trial in which he allegedly raped an old comrade’s daughter (was however exonerated by the court); the Nkandla fiasco; the current State of Capture judicial inquiry in which he is at the centre; over 700 charges on fraud, money laundering and racketeering which potentially make him face prosecution should the prosecution authority choose to prosecute him; the Gupta family related corruption allegations. Any smart leader with grounded convictions would have immediately resigned the moment the Chief Justice who swore him into office, told him that he had violated the very oath of office. With a leader facing these kinds of allegations, no party can reasonably have such a leader as its face towards an election. In short, JZ was recalled for these intransigencies and he knows it. For him to play a victim card amidst these prison-threatening allegations is dishonesty of the highest order. Even those who would ordinarily sympathise with him would immediately withdraw such sympathy.
I really laughed my lungs out when he suggested in the last but one television appearance that he wanted to be accorded a hand-over period through which he would introduce CR to international bodies like SADC, the AU and BRICS because he is well known to the who is who in these organisation. This was akin to a father holding his son’s hand and leading him to school for the first time. I said to myself: who introduced him to these organisations after he had booted Mbeki out of the presidency back then? CR does not need any introduction to the world because he is fairly known by virtue of having been the deputy president for close to four years. To be fair to JZ, the reasoning of his handover period was in the context that it would promote unity in the fractured ANC because he would be seen more often with CR in the international arena and ANC functions. I don’t think CR would entertain the idea of being in the company of JZ any further given their strained relationship as a consequence of these allegations. In public, it appeared there was some level of comradeship between them but given CR’s strong utterances on corruption, it goes without saying that the public appearances were only cosmetic.
JZ is certainly in a panic mode for he does not know what the future holds for him though he fairly does. Last December, two High Court judgements went against him in which he was ordered to personally pay the costs which are said to be running into millions of Rand. He is facing further litigations with the potential of jail time whose costs which he will certainly have to personally bear. It is said that his Gupta friends are no longer picking up his calls because they have their own litigation issues to deal with. Some of these litigations are from the sheer association with him. To compound the matter further, some of his associates in the ANC and government and on whose shoulder he could lean on, could possibly face criminal proceedings themselves. So as it stands, it is the survival of the fittest. They say when days are dark friends are few. The presidency of JZ was underpinned by the politics of bolope (sycophancy) where no one around him including himself could best be described by the saying, ‘see no evil hear no evil.’ When any leader is deeply entrenched in the see no evil hear no evil mode, they go to the extreme of even denying that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west. I still remember during the early days of the Nkandla inquiry when he said that he was not aware of any building activity thereat yet he visited the place regularly. He also said that the former Public Protector never interviewed him during the State of Capture inquiry. It later emerged in a four hour video aired on eNCA television channel that he was indeed interviewed and given the opportunity to say his side of the story. Just like Uncle Bob, JZ was always going to be under the false pretence and illusion that his liberation credentials would save him whatever his intransigence or deliberate error of judgement.