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Is Jacob Zuma South Africa's George W Bush?

Khaya Dlanga

What the SACP fails to realise is that the president needs to treat the office with dignity, it doesn't give him dignity, writes Khaya Dlanga.

South Africa President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

The motion of no confidence filed against President Jacob Zuma last week is a foolish one. Clearly the opposition is just interested in making a point, which will be forgotten and swallowed by the news cycle in a matter of days.

In fact, we, the general public, are already bored by it altogether. Having said that, I don't think that one must not fight simply because they know they will lose.

I would understand if the motion of no confidence filed last week against Zuma was presented on the basis of actual findings tabled before Parliament, and if we had empirical and irrefutable evidence which clearly points to wrongdoing on the part of the president. Suspicion is not evidence. Yes we have suspicions, but we don't have any proof that he has broken the law. The desperation to get rid of this guy must not cause people to disobey the Constitution. In the end, you don't break the law, you break yourself against the law. Time will tell if any laws were broken and who broke himself in the act. 

I would rather we have a robust debate as a nation like we did a year ago about the Protection of State Information Bill instead of talking about Nkandla. I would rather we have a barney about e-tolling than messing around about The Spear, or listening to the SACP telling us how we should treat the office of the president with dignity.

What the SACP fails to say is that the occupant first needs to treat the office with the dignity it deserves. You give the office dignity, it doesn't give you dignity. Dignity is not given, it is earned. Mandela earned it. And yes, I will compare Zuma to Mandela. Why should we set the bar low? We are not that kind of people. We are not that kind of country. If we are to be a leading nation in the world, we have to set ourselves impossible standards, not impossibly low ones.

Why should a powerful man already protected by many laws and a security detail need to have his feelings protected? Why should his rights be over and above those of yours and mine?

I want to have confidence in Zuma. I have prayed and I have even burned impepho. I want to help him get us to reach for the stars but he has not made me believe. I want to be led but there is no vision.

I really do feel sympathy for him because not a week goes by without his name being brandished about. The last guy comedians had a field day with, like they currently do with Zuma, has to be former US president George W Bush. People called him dumb, he didn't know what he was doing, he was in over his head. When his two terms were up, he left a trail of destruction behind him. He started and didn't finish two wars. He managed Hurricane Katrina horribly.

He left a crumbling economy that Barack Obama is still trying to fix. America was losing 800 000 jobs a month when Obama took office.

I fear that we are headed in the same direction. Bush came into power after a dubious Supreme Court decision. The court stopped a recount in Florida which gave the electoral college victory to Bush. We know the Zuma came into power under questionable circumstances surrounding certain spy tapes, which Zuma's allies are doing everything they can to ensure that they never see the light of day.

Our disasters have been Nkandla, Marikana, service delivery protests (there has been a record number under this president), the spy tapes and the threat to press freedom.

We demand to be led better. It pains me a great deal to say this but deep down, when we are being honest with ourselves, we know that the president is not going to lead us any better. Top ANC people know this and whisper it behind closed doors because they don't want to lose their positions or appear to be disloyal. It does not feel good to say that the person you want to believe in isn't doing a good job.

Unfortunately, saying that the president isn't doing a good job is seen as disrespectful, anti-Zuma, counter-revolutionary and not showing respect to the office of the president. The SACP has shown more interest in protecting Jacob Zuma's person than looking out for the interest of the people. The people's party has become a person's party.  Instead, we are expected to sit quietly and take it all in and pretend that it is all good when it isn't.

We write things not because we don't like the man. We write so that he may know what people out there are thinking about him. Mr President, history is not going to be kind to you at all. I'm sorry to say. And as we look at your track record and your probable second term, nothing tells us that things will get much better.

Mr President, lead with vision, justly, morally, apply your mind, look out for us and not for yourself. Listen to your critics, meet them, hear them, incorporate their ideas. Remember that your critics are not all your enemies but friends of the ANC, but even above that, they are lovers of this country you promised to serve.

If you are only going to listen to people who say you are amazing and you are doing a great job, then this is not the job for you. Then you are really going to be the George W Bush of South Africa. And I'm pretty sure you don't want that. We don't want that.

How history judges you is in your hands. The good book says in Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinketh, so is he." What do you think about? Mr President, be as you wish to be remembered. If you can't, quit.


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