Like many South Africans, I will welcome the news of Jacob Zuma leaving the Union Buildings. However, I will not feel elated or joyful – the feeling will rather be one of sheer exhaustion and relief that he has finally been removed from office. In 2007, the ANC elected Zuma to office in spite of the many reasons not to do so. We must not forget that Zuma ascendency was not isolated in the hands of a few, but was enabled and realised because many people either supported that rise or silently looked on.
As a result, millions of South Africans have suffered. The lives of black South Africans have worsened under Zuma’s leadership – and that is not accidental. It is a poverty that cannot be romanticised or narrated away because the reality of it is brutal and violent for millions. It is a poverty that has paralysed the futures of our children, and the children yet to be born, and has ripped away any possibility of a better life now, or even tomorrow. What about the dignity of South Africans? What about ensuring they do not suffer further humiliation?
The Zuma years and the unchecked capture of our state did not happen without careful planning and plotting. We know now that Zuma’s term in office gave rise to underhanded deals, corrupt activity, criminal conduct and the establishment of a shadow state designed to support the whims and desires of the selfishness, self-interest, greed and criminality that is epitomised in Zuma. However, all of this did not happen simply because he desired it, but rather because far too many either supported this criminal vision or were active participants in the grand theft.
This is not simply about the billions that have been lost, misplaced or stolen. This is not simply about the collapse of state-owned enterprises or the subversion of the state to support the hosting of lavish weddings in Sun City. This is also not simply about Nkandla and the hundreds of millions that were wasted in order to provide this selfish man with the home he always desired.
South Africa has lost a decade – years that cannot simply be forgotten or forgiven. Years that cannot be repurposed with words. We must not forget that the cost of state capture, the Zuma years, the subversion of the republic and the establishment of the shadow state can never truly be calculated. The cost on our humanity and the cost of what this has done to South Africans is incomprehensible. Zuma must be held accountable for those crimes regardless of the score of other crimes, and this must include the criminal activity, fraud, corruption and money laundering that has circumvented the aspirations and hopes of South Africans.
Zuma has elected to have a dysfunctional and abusive relationship with the republic and its citizens. He did not accidentally become a member of the criminal conspiracy that sought to subvert the rule of law and state to serve his interests and those of his own family, the Gupta family and the shadow state. We must not forget that far too many people played an active and passive role in this criminal subversion. Simply removing Zuma will not resolve those issues.
We all know that that scores of ministers, senior government officials, public servants, business people and ANC members also have a case to answer. It is a case they must answer if we are ever going to restore confidence in our constitutional democracy. If we fail to do so, we will not be able to shake the fact that our constitutional democracy pillaged from millions and abused and killed its citizens. Marikana and Life Esidimeni are not isolated events in Zuma’s presidency. If we are going to undergo the correction, we must never give up our fight to hold all those who were responsible for such horrific criminal endeavours accountable.
For the past few weeks, the ANC has been trying to recall or fire Zuma from office. It is not surprising that his response has been to obfuscate, avoid, manipulate and ignore such attempts. It is also not surprising that people such as Jessie Duarte and Ace Magashule have attempted to talk in favour of Zuma – their partner, it would seem, in some other endeavours. It is deeply disappointing that the ANC has sought to preserve the dignity of Zuma, who has trampled not only on the office of the president but on the dignity of South Africans.
This should have been simpler. It should have been simpler for the National Prosecuting Authority to have acted sooner against Zuma and those aligned to this criminal project. Surely the ANC caucus in Parliament should have resisted the attempts to protect Zuma or to peddle the untruth of a fire pool and other such fallacies? It should have been easier for good people to stand up to the rise of Zuma in 2005, and again in 2006, and finally at the 2007 elective conference. It should also have been essential that the new leadership of the ANC acted more decisively against Zuma and effectively communicated that approach to the public. Sadly, none of that seemed possible, and that should trouble all of us. It is what must guide us as we rebuild South Africa so it can finally begin to serve the interests of all South Africans. DM
"Housework won't kill you but then again, why take the chance?" ~ Phyllis Diller