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South Africa deserves better leadership

Zuma laughing

2015 has been a year of short-lived appointments. South African president Zuma fired his minister of finance, appointed another, fired that one within days and then re-appointed someone who previously filled the role. Then Miss Colombia was appointed Miss Universe for only a few minutes before being relieved of that post.

It was almost a miracle

Some wheels take a little longer to turn than just minutes or days. Zuma was relieved of his duties as deputy president on 14 June 2005. Who would have thought that four years later he would miraculously be elected as president? Thanks to flaws in the prosecution and support from friends and associates, various corruption charges against him never led to anything substantial. Judge Nicholson observed at this time: “There is a distressing pattern in the behaviour which I have set out above indicative of political interference, pressure or influence”.

Responsible democracy and freedom

It seems that President Zuma cannot successfully embrace the basics and ethics of the financial world. This could be a result of many things, one being the fact that he used to have as financial advisor Schabir Shaik. Shaik was charged with corruption and fraud, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Zuma does not set the example of truly understanding democracy, capitalism, and the concept of freedom with responsibility. This does not help the general sense of entitlement among previously disadvantaged people in his kingdom.

Astute financial management

South Africa faces many economic challenges that require astute financial management. Emergencies do crop up, and the current drought is one. Parastatals cannot manage themselves. The South African Airways has had seven CEOs since 2012. An ill-conceived plan to lease planes from Airbus would have again made a few individuals very rich and was fortunately stopped in time. Many see the attempts at tollgate taxing as just another money-collecting bucket with holes at the bottom and eager hands underneath. Closer to home, Zuma received an annual budget of AU$2,464,715 for “spousal support”, almost twice the amount paid during the terms in office of his predecessors. At the last count, the King had 5 wives and 20 children (a figure that even Wikipedia is not certain about).

Are the ratings a sign?

In November 2008, when Zuma was facing graft charges, only 36% of South Africans were positive about him. A survey showed that, as at June 2009, more than half of South Africans believed President Jacob Zuma was doing a good job. Lately Jacob Zuma’s approval rating has dropped by as much as 28% – from 64% in 2011 to 36% in 2015. According to researchers, this is the first time that a majority of South Africans have expressed outright disapproval of a president’s performance (62%). Indian/South Asian groups contributed the most disapproval votes, followed by Whites/Europeans, Coloureds and then Blacks.

The banquet overflows. For some.

he 72-year-old Zuma is currently serving out his second term in office, which may last until 2019. The country desperately needs new leadership – also beyond just another president. Now might be a time of “eat as much as you can” for those in power, but soon the banquet table will be empty and generations to follow will be staring at the kitchen door that will occasionally swing into action, revealing only a few loafs of bread and some water.


Zuma approval rating at worst-ever levels