South Africa

Zuma Watch: Ordinary South Africans want to see the back of the country’s president sooner rather than later

By Bheki C. Simelane 9 February 2018

With comments such as “we needed to be led by gangsters to know we don't need one in the future”, ordinary South African residents speak on the current political situation in the country. Many have expressed frustration at the manner in which the leadership transition is being handled. Here are some South Africans' take on the state of the country. By BHEKI C. SIMELANE.

Political analysts have dominated the airwaves and journalists have spoken with sources, speculated and read between the lines of comments made over the past week to make sense of what is transpiring within the ANC. But what does the general public think of developments?

Andrew Levy, 34, Managing Director at Umuzi, Johannesburg

While President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa play the longest game of chess within the four walls of Luthuli House, the country continues to be starved of pro-active inclusive leadership. Our economy continues to benefit those who have, while service delivery continues to be a problem for the voiceless and most importantly education at secondary and tertiary levels levels is in absolute turmoil. It doesn’t end there. We live in a bubble where nobody wants to build a shared South Africa. Have any captains of industry changed their tunes since last year’s corporate corruption scandals? My sense is that we should now stop focusing on the ANC and worry more about what’s going on in our individual lives. How can we build a shared value economy where all South Africans have the opportunity to get involved. What’s my role in that space, and how can I start working on that tomorrow?”

Oamogetswe Mogashoa, 23, former student, Pretoria

I’d say that the leadership of the country is not handling the transition well. The new leadership should be showing its mettle. They should be showing the people that they mean business. So far their behaviour does not differ from that of the former leaders. Currently it seems the new leadership does not differ from the old leaders. It seems they are taking instructions from the old guard. It’s as if they want permission before they act decisively. The transition that’s being spoken of doesn’t even show. As for Zuma, he has no respect for either his own party or the nation. He is just a bully, good at abusing the power bestowed on him. He has done a Mugabe on this country. He should go as he has overstayed his welcome.”

Quintin Else, 49, businessman, Johannesburg

President Zuma has plundered the country’s resources. I must say I’m sorry for all the people who fought so bravely against apartheid. Ramaphosa is no angel either, look at Marikana. Our leaders need to learn to take responsibility. I certainly don’t think they are handling this transition too very well. I wish South Africans were allowed to directly choose their president, and didn’t have to have this done for them by politicians. From the ANC’s perspective, I think they think they are handling the transition well but how about from the people’s perspective? The whole of government has been tainted, from the top all the way down down the guy who will sell the government a paper clip for R1,000. Zuma should have gone a lot earlier, it’s too late now. The damage has already been done. We need need a new president who will be able to handle this country like a business.”

George Sibanda, 29, bartender, Johannesburg

The manner in which President Zuma has treated the people of this country was no different from Robert Mugabe. Zuma deserted black people in favour of friends. The current political situation in the country is an eyesore. A president who looks out for associates and friends at the expense of his own people. Even at this late stage, I still think Zuma should step aside. At least he will still get to keep his exorbitantly refurbished home in Nkandla. He shouldn’t have defied his own party. He should have take his cue from (Thabo) Mbeki after he toppled him. I see no easy solution to this because Zuma might also be under pressure from the President’s keepers who might want him to stay on as they have a lot to lose when he leaves office.”

Peter Siduna, 33, advertising, Pretoria

There is nothing new about the ANC. Just because there is the transition doesn’t necessarily point to the renewal or regeneration of the party. Typical of all African liberation movements. The ANC is on a sharp decline. The party has dismally failed to handle this transition period very well as it has been marred by the entitlement syndrome which has made them think that they own the country and it’s citizens. As for Zuma, the man has no respect for anybody. This is why he has managed to plunder the country’s resources.”

Khadzi Tshiwaise, 20, graduate, Mpumalanga

The ANC should stop worshiping a leader but rather become a party that respects the principles and Constitution of the Republic. The current situation in the country is so fragile that it should be handled with extra care otherwise the party will be split at the end of all this. The party shouldn’t be seen as forced to make decisions by opposition parties. Zuma should step down. His refusal to resign is not only disrespectful to his party but the whole nation.”

Nicholas Moletsane, 38, Free State, ANC regional branch member

“One of the reasons why Zuma is giving the ANC migraines when it comes to resigning is because he is not willing to spend his final years in jail. Also he has support from his allies, the likes of Bra Ace Magashule. The man also knows how to play his cards really well. He roped in the top ANC guys into his network of corruption and is using that as leverage now. Smart. He did this to ensure that when the axe falls, he does not become the only casualty. He really tries to provide himself with some cover, which which why so many votes of no confidence against him have failed. I think Ramaphosa is only pushing his luck to get him to go before his time. And, the transition is by no means smooth.”

Letsabisa Mopeli, 22, student, Nelson Mandela Bay

The ANC has serious internal issues. The party has been marred by factionalism and poor leadership ever since Zuma ascended the throne. He has been responsible for irregular Cabinet reshuffles and the factionalism in the party. The newly elected ANC NEC is also divided into two factions. The engine of the structure, Ace Magashule, is greatly compromised. People like Magashule entered the big stage through the back door, but the party was not brave enough to address this. The ANC failed to appropriately respond to Zuma’s scandalous reign. The scandals shocked the whole nation but up to now, nothing has been done. However, given the circumstances and the person concerned, Zuma, I’d say the party is handling the transition well. We obviously needed to be led by gangsters in order to learn that we don’t need one in the future.” DM

Photo: African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma addresses ANC members and media at the opening of the five-day ANC policy Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 June 2017. EPA/STR

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