Opinionista Thamsanqa D Malinga 29 March 2021

Jacob Zuma is not the ‘tokoloshe’ in our midst – the entire ANC is to blame for a weakened state

Is our democracy so weak that it needs a movement to be set up and be vocal against one man, Jacob Zuma, who as it stands is not even in power? Are we perhaps not holding the entire governing party, including the current head of state, accountable to such an extent that we are forever willing to rehash the Zuma ‘tokoloshe’ just to keep South Africans constant hostages to fear?

I am neither a fan of former president Jacob Zuma, nor a fan of his term in office. For me, he was just a bad president, that’s all. In fact, I have long held the view that even the radical economic transformation (RET) that he is now professed to be the “father” of was not even an agenda of the government he led for two terms. RET was born on Zuma’s election trail when he was leading the campaign for the election of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to be the next ANC president, and subsequently head of state.

There are no personal ill feelings towards him. I have always seen him as a genuine, kind-hearted human being, friendly and accommodating. Even with all that, he is not the one I would make guardian to the piggy bank. Doing so would be equivalent to letting the wolf be the guardian of a flock of sheep.

His reign, which saw his son become an overnight multimillionaire, is no different to me than that of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue.

With that said, I believe the media has flogged the Zuma tokoloshe way too long. The narrative of this tokoloshe that is haunting South Africa is past its expiry date. The fascination with his name and linking every media report to him reminds me of the township slang – “uthengisa iphepha ngami” (you are using my name to gain popularity). Yes, the man had flaws, but was it his flaws alone or were they the failings reflecting the state of leadership in the “broader church movement” that he led and has been part of since childhood?

Zuma’s follies are the ANC’s and also of his successor, the current head of state and leader of the party, Cyril Ramaphosa. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony laments how three times the Romans had given the crown to Caesar and three times he refused.

With Zuma, eight times had the opposition brought a motion of no confidence and eight times the ANC protected him. It was befitting that at the time he was recalled from his first office and all manner of aspersions cast upon him using the media as a weapon, that Zuma asked, “What have I done?” — a question to which his party has never responded.

We fail to hold the ANC accountable for the corruption, mismanagement and malfeasance it continues to unleash on the country through its deployed members. We must cry foul when the member they have at the helm gets away with heinous crimes against the republic and its citizens. I shudder to think that the next president will be yelling, “It’s Cyril’s fault that we are in this mess.”

Even with the Zondo Commission into State Capture, which is clearly a sort of Zuma persecution commission facade, his name gets thrown about and South Africans are told to “connect the dots” with the intention of making him the cancer that gripped South Africa and got it to its weakened state when he was not ruling alone but with the proud broader church movement. Every time the commission runs out of a news-gripping story, a witness — known or “protected” — is produced to throw in the Zuma name, albeit with no concrete evidence.

This is not only the case with the State Capture Commission, it is evident with most media houses and their reporting. When there is no “hot topic” to jump on the wagon, the Zuma name must be yanked out of the archives and run with, to increase the readership or viewership numbers. Will the media hold the current incumbent to account, as leader of government business during the so-called nine wasted years? The question needs no answer as we have observed how no one else is accountable for the wasted years, for the corruption, malfeasance, lack of service delivery and every failure.

Recently, we have seen the resurgence of the erstwhile Save SA movement in the form of the newly minted Defend Our Democracy. The former movement was very instrumental in advocating Zuma’s removal and the latter, as reported, has taken a vocal stance of “calling for South Africans to protect the Constitution, especially in light of former president Jacob Zuma’s refusal to appear before the Zondo Commission”.

The question remains: Is our democracy so weak that it needs a movement to be set up and be vocal against one man, who as it stands is not even in power? Are we perhaps not holding the entire governing party, including the current head of state, accountable to such an extent that we are forever willing to rehash the Zuma tokoloshe just to keep South Africans constant hostages to fear?

To the best of my recollection, the current president was the first to advance the disgraceful “nine wasted years” narrative. I say disgraceful because for the nine wasted years he was leader of government business in the legislature and during those years he was head of the “war room” for SOEs. Under his leadership of the war room, the SOEs have decayed and some like SAA have virtually died a shameful death. In all of that, the media will find a way of blaming Zuma and at every opportunity find a way to drag his name into every mess. The Zuma blamers and the media only just stop short of blaming the man for bad concessions made by the ANC at the Codesa talks.

Granted, Zuma’s term in office was embroiled in scandals but we need to move past blaming him alone. He did not rule as a dictator who “looted power”. Instead, he was an envoy of the African National Congress. The party should take the blame as a collective. We have allowed the ANC to escape blame and every time resort to finding ways of making a tokoloshe out of one party representative.

We fail to hold the ANC accountable for the corruption, mismanagement and malfeasance it continues to unleash on the country through its deployed members. We must cry foul when the member they have at the helm gets away with heinous crimes against the republic and its citizens. I shudder to think that the next president will be yelling, “It’s Cyril’s fault that we are in this mess.”

Worse if the next president will be David Mabuza, a figure missing in action ever since he took office. His role is that of leader of government business, but the man has been nowhere – and that is an understatement.

So, continuing with the obsession of Zuma being a tokoloshe that is blamed for the ills that have befallen South Africa will see us in 30 years from now still bemoaning the ANC’s failures through the narrative of attributing these to some kind of tokoloshe leader.

I pray it will not be Zuma, but judging by the way we are forever ready to blame him for everything, we will still be blaming him even then.

We need to accept the reality – albeit a bitter pill to swallow: Zuma is not the tokoloshe he is forever portrayed to be. The tokoloshe is the ANC, finish and klaar. DM

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All Comments 15

  • A functioning democracy would not permit the present ANC nor corrupt political leaders. I agree we should tackle the root cause the ANC. On reflection Zondo is chasing the wrong target. Substitute ANC for State capture and we would have begun to tackle SA’s African National Cancer!

  • Like the author I am not a fan of Zuma or his erand hopefully he gets what he deserves. However at Nasrec 49% voted for the Zuma/Magaschule cabal that hijacked SA during the Zuma era. Zuma just the facilitator in chief!
    The corruption was however institutionalised in the ANC even before the Zuma era

    • agreed. Read De Vos today. The next election has the potential to decide on principles, not just old-hat policy. The unknown is the savvy and backbone of the people/ voters. Do we want to be lied to and robbed for another term?

  • So do we want a tokoloshe in government? Of course not. So who? DA? In your dreams. Who then. Are you suggesting then we elect a tokoloshe? Declaring the tokoloshing of Zuma or ANC does not a reasonable solution/ government get. Please take us to the next step in your next erudite submission.

    • Dennis, the “next step” is yours to think about. THINK, we are in a democracy! You say about the DA “In your dreams.” Why? You do not state a real reason, just what you think is media-generated popular noise. Have you read their Manifesto?

      • Hi Dennis, me again. Have you read the manifestos of any other party? We need to get the ANC out as soon as possible. So the tiny parties are next to useless, to be kept till after the ANC is out. So there is only one realistic party to nail the ANC. Like them or not, your dream party!

  • I agree that the media often pulls out the Zuma name to generate buzz, but both Zuma and the ANC can be the villain in this case. The ANC had some problems before, but Zuma’s presence at the top made it a lot worse. As they say, the fish rots from the head.

  • A pathetic apologist for zuma! There is no doubt that this new anc is complicit in state capture, theft, deceit, mismanagement, gross ineptitude etc. They shielded and protected zuma to the hilt, but the evil zuma, without doubt, is the kingpin, the mafia don of the parasitic criminal syndicate.

  • This is absolutely spot on Sir Thamsanqa D Malinga! He also mentions The Media! A bunch of gutless easy-option club members! Why do I say that? Heck, that is powerful stuff! I say it because they continuously dump on Zuma and the ANC on the side. THEY NEVER OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE!

    • And when any alternative is proposed, the media tends to role out the old tropes (created entirely by the ANC) of racism etc etc etc

  • Thamsanqa you are so right – “The tokoloshe is the ANC, finish and klaar.” Nobody can spell it out better than that. If only the anc members and voters could also understand that fact things could be so different.

    • yes, the entire ANC is to blame, CR included. But Zuma assists the media greatly because he keeps on denying and defying constitutional processes. His own actions make it easy to write headlines about him. So, he keeps himself in the news…

  • The tokolosh is a myth. Measured against the current tempo the cANCer will soon also be a myth, despite having a wonderful Freedom Charter. It has proved to be empty words. Hopefully the main opposition party will get its ducks in a row. The Manifesto alone is not enough. The proof of the pudding…

  • The buck always stops with the Leader and Zuma was and is a disgrace. He needs to be brought to account for his own corrupt dealings as well as for what he allowed to happen to our Democracy.
    Certain members of the ANC NEC, its bankrupt policies and its corrupt members, should be held to account.

  • Well said and valid points. However, how does one move forward when there is likely no opposition to the ANC. How does one move the apathetic to action, to cast their vote, to assist in the determination of the future South Africa?

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