Course correction

With his emphatic victory in elections to the presidency of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma has signalled that he has no challengers within the party. Winning 75 per cent of the vote, he all but obliterated the challenge posed by his deputy and ally-turned-rival Kgalema Motlanthe.  Since he won his first term as the ANC’s president five years ago, when he coasted to victory with 60 per cent of the votes, Zuma has substantially consolidated his grip over the party. However, his critics attribute his spectacular performance to vote-rigging and violence. Zuma’s new deputy is Cyril Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid veteran and billionaire businessmen. The Zuma-Ramaphosa team is a worrying pointer to the pro-rich economic policies that lie in store for South Africa.

As South Africa’s president, Zuma’s record has been way below par. He has been accused of corruption, even rape. He has failed to tackle rampant poverty or corruption within his government and the ANC.  Critics are pointing out that under Zuma the ANC has been reduced to a party without a moral compass. That is a strong and sad indictment of a party that was once led by Nelson Mandela. The ANC has performed poorly in elections over the past two years, losing every province except Zuma's native KwaZulu Natal. His personal standing in the country too is shaky. A poll survey conducted on the eve of the ANC elections revealed that Zuma’s national approval rating is just 52 per cent compared with the 70 per cent of the defeated Motlanthe.

Eighteen years after it came to power after ending apartheid, the ANC is rotting. Its leaders are obsessed with building personal fortunes and have distanced themselves from the South African masses. Twenty-five per cent of South Africa’s population is unemployed but Zuma remains unconcerned. Anger against the ANC is mounting, ironically in the Black townships, once the ANC’s strongholds. Zuma’s supporters dismiss censure of their leader as the outcome of the racist perceptions of a media that remains under White control. It is true that some of the criticism hurled at him is racist. However, the ANC was a party founded on principles of equality and justice and these are being violated by its present leaders. They will need to change course to win back the hearts of the South African
people.

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