/ 22 September 2008

Zuma: lip-service to Gandhi and Luthuli?

ANC president Jacob Zuma was quickly whisked away after the inauguration of the Gandhi-Luthuli Chair of Peace Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) .

With High Court Judge Chris Nicholson having set aside the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) charges against Zuma last week, organisers appeared concerned that questions pertaining to Nicholson’s judgement would detract from the launch.

The chair, whose first occupant is Professor John Moolakkattu, a Gandhian academic, will focus on postgraduate research into conflict resolution based on the teachings of Gandhi and the life of Albert Luthuli, a former ANC president and the first African recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zuma noted: ”This initiative is for the youth, who will learn to value peace and solve human challenges through non-violent means — the youth must learn that conflict only breeds conflict.” So it was a pity that the ANC president ignored the scheduled press conference and was instead spirited away in a whirlwind of blue lights and 4×4 exhaust fumes.

Whether the ANC would consider deploying the fiery president of its Youth League, Julius Malema, to study under the Peace Chair at UKZN’s school of politics, is a question that will remain hanging in the air.

Malema, who has developed a pathological penchant for militant rhetoric — from promising to ”kill for Zuma” to this week blubbering on that anyone considering recharging Zuma would be considered ”public enemy number one” — would appear an ideal candidate. Notwithstanding the lack of a matric certificate.

The unleashing, after the indictment, of Malema and other warmongerers like Cosatu KZN provincial secretary Zet Luzipho, who this week described the NPA’s decision to appeal the judgement as a ”declaration of war on our people”, appears, tragically, to be a continuation of the pro-Zuma strategy of applying pressure on various institutions and strata of society while the ”big man” himself pays lip service to reconciliation, ”respect for the judiciary” et cetera, ad nauseum.

This is a politically expedient paradox which, one would have hoped, would have been obviated by the high court’s decision.