JACOB Zuma should never have been president of this beautiful country. If anyone had their head so buried in the sand since the man returned from exile in 1990, Zuma has now firmly and forcefully demonstrated his complete disdain for any institution of accountability and due process.
Under his leadership — and to save only his own skin — the ANC started the process as soon as they elected their man in 2007. One by one, they recklessly went about dismantling all the checks and balances, starting with the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions), then systematically stripping the prosecution service of any talent while putting the most incompetent civilians in charge of the police service.
Not even the SA Revenue Service was beyond his reach, all in an attempt to ensure he continues to enjoy his freedom from answering to the 683 fraud and corruption charges that could be said to have propelled him to the Union Buildings in the first place.
After mercilessly crushing his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, and humiliating him by firing him with a mere six months to go in his final term as president of the republic, Zuma went about denuding every aspect of government of any independent-minded people who he feared would challenge his instructions.
There was also the ultimate national embarrassment when 200 guests of his Gupta family friends violated the previously sacrosanct Waterkloof Airforce base to land a private jet for a wedding party. They landed without any authorisation or heed to the mandatory immigration controls which guard the nation’s borders. The civil servant who is alleged to have lied to the subsequent inquiry to protect the president has been rewarded with an ambassadorship to the Netherlands.
No president in democratic SA has committed more sins against the nation than Zuma. His record is rivalled only by PW Botha, who ordered numerous illegal and murderous raids into black townships and the neighbouring states in a vain pursuit of an equally unsustainable and unjust apartheid system.
Under Zuma’s stewardship, urged on by spineless ANC praise singers, the economy has stumbled from crisis to crisis. Having inherited a 5%/year growth GDP for the three years to 2007 and, in fairness to him a recession in 2008, Zuma has presided over a six-year slowdown to the current sub-1% annual growth.
This past week he crossed the proverbial Rubicon by appointing an obscure and questionable member of parliament in the person of David “Des” van Rooyen as finance minister to replace Nhlanhla Nene, who had undergone a decade of grooming, serving as deputy to two of democratic SA’s most successful and globally respected finance ministers.
As we have come to expect, Zuma made a sharp about-turn the moment there was any sign of mass dissent. In October, Zuma quickly caved in when university students across the country stormed various state institutions, and paid a mass visit to the seat of government at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, demanding that tuition and registration fees be kept constant at 2015 prices. On that occasion, as he did in removing Van Rooyen as finance minister after only four days, Zuma claimed to have listened to the will of the people. “We emphasise the importance of listening to the people and to respond to their views,” he said in announcing Van Rooyen’s removal and replacing him with Pravin Gordhan.
If he is capable of “listening to the people”, can Zuma now listen to the people and save our country more pain? As economist Azar Jammine puts it elsewhere in these pages: “Proper confidence will be restored only when Zuma resigns.”
The truth is that any day with Zuma at the helm is one day too long. Are there still any real patriots in the ANC and parliament? Where are the citizens?