Whilst the rest of the world has merely watched Zuma resign and be replaced with ANC favourite Ramaphosa, what news outlets, BBC, CNN and Aljazeera lack is recognition of the brevity and implications of his resignation. This was a day that South Africa, who since Mandela’s term has suffered successive corrupt and ineffective presidents, thought would never come. To an extent, in Zuma’s 9 years it felt as if democracy had degraded, to the point of non-existence, as this February saw his ninth vote of no-confidence.

The fact that he became president in the first place leaves some incredulous. Prior to his election in 2009, he was battling allegations of rape and corruption. Although he was acquitted of raping an HIV positive family-friend, he claimed that he had showered in order to avoid catching HIV – a statement that would become a running joke throughout his presidency. Despite these apparent career-ending scandals Zuma was subsequently elected.

Obviously, his scandals followed him into his presidency with charges of money-laundering and racketeering culminating in a Supreme Court decision to charge Zuma with corruption. However, it is rather his decision to use state funds to upgrade his private residence, which is most telling. This scandal made waves, as even Trevor Noah on The Daily Show referred to the infamous ‘fire pool’. Zuma used government money, upwards of $16million to upgrade his personal home and when defending the decision claimed that his additional pool, was a security measure wherein, if the house caught fire, one could take the water from the said pool and douse it. Thereby it was a matter of the president’s safety. These scandals marred not only Zuma’s presidency but also the ANC-led National Assembly.

Thus, given the exceptionalism of cases, one has to wonder whether Zuma’s resignation was really Democracy at work, given the aforementioned eight votes of no-confidence which proceeded this one.

The African National Congress (ANC) is the only explanation for Zuma’s continued existence in the political sphere. Their greatest opponent, the Democratic Alliance is perceived as the liberal white party. Contrastingly, the ANC continues to be associated with the liberation legacy of Nelson Mandela, Madiba, as such it remains popular among the majority of the populace.

The most recent scandal and one that finally pushed Zuma out was his personal relationship with the Gupta family. In particular, what ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe dubbed the “corporate capture” of government, as their money influenced cabinet appointments and in turn, both parties they benefited from government contracts.

A banner depicting Atul Gupta, with the slogan “#Not My President” which explicitly references the infamous relationship between the Gupta’s and President Zuma. (Source: WikiCommons)

One cannot help but mirror these successive scandals and Zuma’s title as the ‘teflon president’ to that of Donald Trump who continues to dodge impeachment despite his less than presidential behavior. Bill Clinton, who suffered numerous sandals such as the infamous Monica Lewinsky affair, a sexual harassment lawsuit and charges of obstructing justice, was tried for impeachment and subsequently resigned . Contrastingly, Trump’s presidency, one year on, includes scandals of Russian tampering in US elections, allegations of collusion with Jared Kushner, sexual assault claims and a supposed affair with a porn star, all of which have seemingly held no sway in potential impeachment proceedings. Thus, given the exceptionalism of cases, one has to wonder whether Zuma’s resignation was really Democracy at work, given the aforementioned eight votes of no-confidence which proceeded this one.

now that Zexit has finally happened one can only hope that Ramaphosa could potentially redeem the Rainbow Nation and reignite Madiba’s vision.

Regardless, Ramaphosa, who was initially Mandela’s choice as his successor, is the ANC’s ‘prodigal son’. During his State of the Nation Address Ramaphosa, contrastingly to Zuma’s dismissive approach to the prolonged issue of HIV, stated, “I wanna be there when the people win the battle against Aids; I wanna lend a hand; I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse; I wanna lend a hand; Send me.” Ramaphosa is imploring the public to trust that he will rid the government of the rampant corruption inherent to Zuma’s presidency. In addition to restoring some much-needed legitimacy to the party by fighting corruption Ramaphosa, who is the epitome of South African capitalism with a net worth of $550 million, is looking to ensure economic growth.

What needs to be recognized is that Ramaphosa is no Messiah, as Zuma too began his term as a ‘people’s president’ and the public should be cautious as to whether he will follow through on his lofty claims. Yet now that Zexit has finally happened one can only hope that Ramaphosa could potentially redeem the Rainbow Nation and reignite Madiba’s vision.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I fear that the comparison of Zuma to Donald Trump is misleading at best. Trump has never officially had an impeachment process brought against him. This is due to the total lack of substantiated evidence. The media continues to push the Russia narrative in order to garner clicks and to delegitimize the positive effects Trump’s presidency has had on the economy at large. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. But he is certainly no Zuma, and if offered the opportunity, millions of South Africans would have Trump as a president over a Jacob Zuma in a heartbeat. While one may have issues with his moral character, I can assure you that Hilary Clinton would have been no better. Since we are able to pick and choose what it is we find repulsive or not based on our political leanings/biases, and since nothing has been done yet in the investigation regarding Trump, it is better to talk about policies and actual effects. Low job unemployment, low taxes, ISIS nearly wiped out, high stock market, and high consumer confidence. When South Africa can boast these things, then the comparison’s between Trump and whatever president is in power can be made (and maybe with a straight face this time).

    I must agree with the previous comment and also point out the Ramaphosa, South Africa’s new golden boy, is actually implementing serious changes which could harm South Africa irrevocably. Land expropriation without compensation is no joke. This communistic ploy is just another way to take the responsibility off the hands of the incompetent ANC, and demonstrate that “progress” is being achieved when in fact the reverse is true. Communism has failed in every state it has been tried. It is dangerous and not to be messed with. The only system that we have that provides any kind of a relief to those who have previously been oppressed is a capitalist system that seeks to treat each person as an individual no matter their race, gender, or religion. This is the only way that South Africa can move forward. It doesn’t want to end up like its neighbor.

    And to all those who believe that Ramaphosa will act responsibly once the constitutional changes are made, I ask this: What about the next guy? And we all know who that will be.

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