Jacob Zuma was booed in East London on Saturday. Photo credit/Reuters

Jacob Zuma was booed in East London on Saturday. Photo credit/Reuters

Jacob Zuma is not Retiring a Hero, By Kelechi Okoronkwo


Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa may have given his best to public service of his home country. But his best is not enough for South Africans. The ghosts of numerous criminal cases of corruption rape levelled against him years back have refused to rest in perfect peace.

From when he was just 17, and with no known formal education, Zuma started identifying with South-African political structure. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, may have fought all the battles in the public service, including going to prison and serving a jail term at the Robben Island together with Nelson Mandela and other notable members of the African National Congress (ANC). He has seen the level and unlevel political plains in South Africa. Despite his early involvement in criminal charges such as corruption and rape, which earned him unflattering public image, Zuma still found his way, rising through the ladder to become the president of a leading African economy for two terms of eight years. He is now 76 years old; aged, weak and about to retire from public life. But unlike his counterpart, Mandela, who retired a world hero, Zuma is not retiring a hero, even in his native South Africa.

No matter how far the son of a policeman ran, he has not been able to run away from his shadow. Same charges of corruption and rape has become his greatest undoing.

While still the President, in December 2017, the ANC removed him as the leader of the party and gave the position to his Deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa. This is paying Zuma in his own coin because he did this to then President Thabo Mbeki in 2007 when Zuma took over from him as the Leader of the ANC.

Ramaphosa has pledged to fight corruption and pursue a policy of “radical economic transformation”, which Zuma is adjudged unable to accomplish.

Closing the party’s conference last December, Ramaphosa said tackling unemployment and poverty should also be key party policies.

He is in a strong position to become president at elections in 2019.

“This conference has resolved that corruption must be fought with the same intensity and purpose that we fight poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he told delegates at the end of the five-day conference.

“We must also act fearlessly against alleged corruption and abuse of office within our ranks.”

He said that the party had approved the seizure of land without compensation, but he cautioned against undermining the economy and food production.

Zuma’s political opponents do want the corruption and sexual misconduct allegations against Zuma to die a natural death. They are exhuming the cases to ensure that Zuma is nailed politically forever. A faction in the ruling party is pushing for Zuma’s resignation or impeachment as the President before the end of his second term in 2019.

Whether the South African ruling party, the ANC succeeds in removing Zuma as the President before the 2019 election or he stays in the office till after the election, one constant factor in the equation is that Zuma is not going home a hero. He will have the same public life ending with his known closest ally, Robert Mugabe, the deposed President of Zimbabwe.

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on editorkingsuba@gmail.com. I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles