Opinionista Ben Turok 1 November 2017

Op-Ed: We feel betrayed by Zuma’s litany of scandals

We sense a turning of the tide against acceptance of rotten and corrupt leadership of the country, verging on disgust.

It was with deep dismay that we read the report of Jacques Pauw’s new book The President’s Keepers in the Sunday Times of 29 October. We assume that the Sunday Times checked the authenticity of the material since it risks severe penalties if it failed to do so. We note that SAFM ran a programme on the same book.

Even though the country has long been aware of President Jacob Zuma’s record of wrongdoing, the corruption charges, Nkandla, the friendship with the Guptas, and many other instances, the latest revelations come as a shock. How can any person, let alone the President of a country and leader of a once proud liberation movement place himself in such a sordid situation. The consequence is that he has lost the last vestiges of legitimacy as President or even as a public figure of any kind.

Of course he will continue to rally around him all the cheapskates who benefit from his control of state institutions and there will also be those whose loyalties to the ANC run so deep that they are willing to blindly condone Zuma’s misconduct thereby allowing the rot to continue.

But we are convinced that Zuma’s credibility is now at an end. He is no longer credible as a leader of government politically, his interventions in the economy have been disastrous, his social policies are totally inadequate leaving millions of people destitute, his immoral conduct is laid bare for all to see, and even the international prestige of South Africa that was so high is now in tatters.

We feel ever so saddened that the once proud ANC is saddled with this person as it struggles to restore some coherence in its ranks. Imagine Zuma making the opening speech at the December conference calling for unity and commitment to good governance.

IFAA is a small voice in a huge auditorium of public opinion. But we sense a turning of the tide against acceptance of rotten and corrupt leadership of the country, verging on disgust.

Indeed the feelings of betrayal are so widespread that the time may be right for a group of respected personalities from all sectors of society, social, religious, business, sports and academia, to lead a movement for the cleansing of public life and restoring of good governance.

This initiative should not be seen as an attempt by those who have been marginalised to make a comeback. It should be seen as a genuine effort to create a mainstream of public opinion to remove wrong doing from our public life and bring about the necessary social and economic changes that the country needs so desperately. DM

Professor Ben Turok wrote this in his capacity as director of the Institute for Africa Alternatives (IFAA). Turok is a former ANC MP.

Photo: In this file photo, Jacob Zuma – up to then deputy president – addresses a press conference in Cape Town June 14, 2005 after being fired by President Thabo Mbeki. Zuma accepted President Thabo Mbeki’s decision to sack him but protested his innocence of graft and insisted he had been tried unfairly by the media. A solemn Zuma read a prepared statement to journalists barely an hour after Mbeki told a televised special session of Parliament of his decision to fire Zuma. Photo: Mike Hutchings/(Reuters).

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South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.

On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.

And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.

However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.

If you believe in supporting the cause and the work of Daily Maverick then take your position on the battleground and sign up to Maverick Insider today.

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