South Africa

Jacob Zuma – from Polokwane to Mangaung

By Mandy De Waal 18 December 2012

He was born into poverty, and the story of Jacob Zuma’s ascent to power was a narrative mired with conflict, the continual shroud of corruption, nepotism and multitude of legal maladies that ranged from rape to his involvement in the arms deal scandal. The road from Polokwane to Mangaung has been little different. Daily Maverick traces five years in the life of the man who became a president. By MANDY DE WAAL.

The populist president, Jacob Zuma, was touted to be the man for the people – the great listener, the leader with the common touch, the charismatic champion of the poor. But Msholozi’s travels from Polokwane in December 2007, where he was crowned leader of the ANC, to Mangaung, where he’s fighting to retain the title, has been littered with secret documents and revelations which show a man consumed by power, greed and personal excess. If anything, the passage of time shows that Zuma’s regime will find it increasingly difficult to batten down the hatches, as a growing flood of information continues to surface that links him to corruption, incompetence, excess and the abuse of his power. 

18 Dec 2007

Zuma defeats Thabo Mbeki to become president of the ruling party at the 52nd ANC National Elective Conference.

28 Dec 2007

Michael Hulley, Zuma’s lawyer, confirms that papers are served on Zuma. “Today, December 28 2007, the Directorate of Special Operations [Scorpions] served on Mr Jacob Zuma an indictment to stand trial in the high court” for “various counts of racketeering, money laundering, corruption and fraud,” Hulley wrote in an email.

Comprised of some of the finest police, forensic experts, prosecutors, and intelligence operatives in SA, the ANC gave notice of its intent to disband the Scorpions, at Polokwane. Parliament votes for closing the Scorpions in 2008, and they are replaced with the Hawks which close the arms-deal investigation and the case against Zuma.

Jan 2008

Zuma marries Nompumelelo Ntuli.

12 Sept 2008

Pietermaritzburg Judge Chris Nicholson clears the way for Zuma to become president by declaring Msholozi’s corruption charges unlawful on procedural grounds.

22 Sept 2008

Thabo Mbeki tenders his resignation as president of SA, after being recalled by the ANC

9 Dec 2008

Zuma tells a SWAPO leadership in Namibia that the ANC needs to do “something radical” to curb government corruption.

16 Dec 2008

COPE founded by break-away ANC members Mosiuoa Lekota, Mbhazima Shilowa and Mluleki George. 

12 Jan 2009

The Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously overturns Judge Nicholson’s ruling on Zuma’s corruption charges, and tells the judge he didn’t know what he was doing when he dismissed the charges.

02 April 2009

“Of all the white groups that are in South Africa, it is only the Afrikaners that are truly South Africans in the true sense of the word,” Zuma tells a collective of Afrikaner groups, during a meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton.

06 April 2009

Acting national director of public prosecutions Moketedi Mpshe drops charges of corruption against Zuma.

07 April 2009

The DA heads to court to get Mpshe’s decision overturned, but the opposition party’s application is dismissed in the North Gauteng High Court.

27 April 2009

The 2009 general elections take place, and show a drop-off in support for the ANC of some 4%.

9 May 2009

Zuma becomes the President of South Africa after being inaugurated at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

3 June 2009

Zuma delivers his first state of the nation address as president.

08 Oct 2009

Sonono Khoza, Zuma’s girlfriend, gives birth to Zuma’s 20th child, The Sunday Times reports. Khoza is the daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza. Later Zuma would declare: “I deeply regret the pain that I have caused to my family, the ANC (African National Congress), the alliance and South Africans in general.”

Jan 2010

Zuma marries Tobeka Madiba.

11 Jan 2010

Zuma sings “dubul’ ibhunu” (shoot the boer) at the ANC centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein. A complaint of hate speech is later lodged against him at the Human Rights Commission of SA.

08 March 2010

Zuma fails to declare his financial interests 60 days after taking office, as required by law. Nine months later the DA calls for an investigation into the matter.

24 Oct 2011

The cabinet is reshuffled by Zuma, who is forced to fire public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and cooperative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka after damning reports on the pair, and former police commissioner Bheki Cele, by the Public Prosecutor.

8 Dec 2011

Zuma meets members of civil society, while outside the Durban City Hall where the meeting takes place activists are punched and abused by volunteers hired by the state.  

During 2012 the president travels to Qatar, Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Belgium, Zimbabwe, the USA, Benin, Botswana, Namibia, Luanda, and India.

March 2012

City Press reveals that Zuma’s man for the top job of police chief, Richard Mdluli, is allegedly involved with rampant looting of the SAPS’ crime intelligence unit. 

April 2012

Zuma marries Bongi Ngema at Nkandla.

May 2012

The tri-partite alliance takes to the streets to protest against a painting of Jacob Zuma (with his genitals exposed) called The Spear. The painting consumes headlines after amidst emotional debate about freedom of expression and presidential pride; and after the artwork is defaced.

15 Aug 2012

34 miners are gunned down by police at Marikana. Many see Marikana as a turning point for both South Africa and the Zuma regime

19 Aug 2012

Appearing on Dali Tambo’s People of the South on SABC3, Zuma speaks about his daughter’s marriage and says: “I was also happy because I wouldn’t want to stay with daughters who are not getting married. Because that in itself is a problem in society. I know that people today think being single is nice. It’s actually not right. That’s a distortion. You’ve got to have kids. Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother.” The statement provokes outrage from gender activists.

8 Sept 2012

Parliament approves a 5,5% pay hike for Zuma, taking his salary from R2,485,839 to R2,622,561 per annum. 

29 Sept 2012

City Press reveals that Zuma’s homestead, Nkandla, is being revamped at a cost of over R200 million, and that the president will be paying 5%, and taxpayers will pick up the rest of the tab.

08 Nov 2012

Opposition parties unify to file a motion of no confidence in Zuma in parliament.

Oct 2012

Public Prosecutor, Thuli Madonsela, confirms that an investigation into the use of public funds for the construction of Zuma’s estate at Nkandla is underway. Madonsela says the investigation was launched some months back after an official complaint was lodged with the Public Protector. Later the watch-dog office announced that it would also investigate the R2 billion to be constructed in Nkandla, dubbed ‘Zumaville’. 

10 Oct 2012

The Constitutional Court rules that Zuma’s appointment of Menzi Simelane as director of public prosecution is not valid.

29 Oct 2012

Zuma addresses foreign journalists, and tells them: “You cannot change direction overnight – it’s like the Titanic.” BBC’s Africa correspondent, Andrew Harding, decodes the event and states: “Rather than selling his vision of the way forward for South Africa, Mr Zuma chose to focus almost exclusively on his trademark tactic – wounded defensiveness.” Zuma tells the foreign media corps that Marikana was a “mishap” and that it was wrong to call it a “crisis” or exaggerate the event, and the president states that factional infighting and government corruption is a sign of a healthy democracy at work. 

15 Nov 2012

Nkandlagate is discussed in Parliament, where Zuma says: “My residence in Nkandla has been paid for by the Zuma family. All the buildings and every room we use in that residence was built by ourselves as family, and not by government.” Zuma, who looks clearly upset, adds: “On TV, they showed the house that I paid for. And they lie that it has been built by government. It has not been built by government.” The president declares that he is currently paying a bond for some buildings on the homestead. Zuma says he wasn’t kept appraised about all the details related to Nkandla.

23 Nov 2012

The Mail & Guardian receives documents which show that Zuma was kept up to date on progress at Nkandla, and states that these documents “call Zuma’s bluff”, which suggests he misled parliament on the Nkandla matter

06 Dec 2012

The ANC loses a ward (which goes to the IFP) in a by-election at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, home to Zuma’s private estate.

07 Dec 2012

Mail & Guardian publishes shock findings contained in a ‘secret forensic report’ by KPMG prepared in 2006 for Zuma’s corruption trial. The report exposes Zuma as a “kept politician” who regularly accepted monetary favours from his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, as well as former president Nelson Mandela and others.

09 Dec 2012

City Press takes to the air for aerial shots of Nkandla, and lays bare the massive excess of Zuma’s homestead

12 Dec 2012

The official opposition, the DA, formally requests that the South African Revenue Services investigate whether Zuma and his benefactors have paid their taxes. 

13 Dec 2012

In an interview with The Guardian, Zuma defends the actions of the SAPS at Marikana. “How many other people would have died if, for example, police did not move to disarm these people? Nobody can tell. At a spur of the moment, a mistake happened. Now if such a mistake happened, you throw the minister away? I don’t know on what basis,” Zuma says.

14 Dec 2012

“The money was for the upkeep and education of Zuma’s kids,” the president’s one-time benefactor (and convicted fraudster) Schabir Shaik tells the media after being questioned about a R2,5 million payment to Msholozi.

16 Dec 2012

Zuma declares Mangaung open with the statement that South Africa is not “falling apart”. DM

Read more:


While we have your attention...

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money - though not nearly as much as its absence.

Every article, every day, is our contribution to Defending Truth in South Africa. If you would like to join us on this mission, you could do much worse than support Daily Maverick's quest by becoming a Maverick Insider.

Click here to become a Maverick Insider and get a closer look at the Truth.

Election 2019

Maimane takes hardline on illegal immigration at DA’s 2019 campaign manifesto launch

By Ferial Haffajee

Adolf Hitler was the first European leader to ban human zoos.