The debate, taking place in some sections of our nation, on whether President Jacob Zuma is doing well or not, or whether he is suitable for the job he has done for five years, is one that should be welcomed by all.
And one of the first people to welcome such a debate should be Zuma himself.
Our president should embrace the debate because he believes, strongly, in the freedoms enjoyed by the nation he leads. Equally, he should also believe in the nation’s right to express and exchange views, even if he does not agree with them.
Second, President Zuma must accept the talk of his performance because he has, or should have, nothing to fear or hide.
President Zuma has been at the helm of the current government for the past five years, a period during which a lot of right things were done by the government. It was also, to be fair, a period during which a lot of wrong things were done.
Third, the president must smile, and even chuckle, at the debate about his job because people living in a democracy must be able to freely discuss issues of common and national importance. Among these would be the performance of the president.
Citizens should be able to openly exchange views about these issues without fear that they will be either victimised or accused of being disloyal and unpatriotic.
I am sure that President Zuma is alive to the reality that, as president, he is in a unique position where his performance review takes place daily – consistently so.
I am sure he is also aware that the members of his performance review panel count more than 30 million.
It does not matter what the president or his support does, the nation will continue to debate his performance. And part of that debate will include whether or not he should be recalled, as he did to former president Thabo Mbeki.
Even the gallant effort by members of his cabinet, who tried to exonerate him from blame from being associated with R206 million of our money spent on his private palace, will not stop the debate.
This is because the Nkandla controversy has come to represent everything that is so wrong with the performance of the president.
And while the middle class takes to the social networks to vent their anger over yet another cover-up on Nkandla, down in the rural areas they have found a simple way of looking at the issue and judging President Zuma. And it all has to do with the most expensive cattle kraal and chicken run in the country.
For people from the rural areas, constructing a kraal is the simplest and most inexpensive exercise. And when you spend close to a million on your kraal, you invite a special inquisition.
ANC members campaigning for next year’s elections would be well advised to go armed with questions about the most expensive kraal.
Among the institutions that must be first to embrace the debate about the performance of the president is the governing party. The ANC must do so because the party has confidence, not only in the man who they elected as the leader, but also in his ability to lead and implement policies.
Difficult as it may be, the ANC must resist the temptation to reject any debate on President Zuma and his performance.
It would be important for the ANC to discourage an atmosphere where people feel that discussion on the president, be it his performance or any other issue, is discouraged or banned.
We should not see a repeat of developments in the run-up to Mangaung where, for instance, members were discouraged from standing against Zuma in the elections.
Standing against the president was viewed by some as an act of political treason and those who dared to challenge Zuma were deserving of serious punishment.
* Jovial Rantao is the editor of the Sunday Tribune