Durban – Former president Jacob Zuma has hit back at the growing chorus within the ANC leadership claiming his tenure was “wasted" or "lost" years, calling it a message of defeatism in an election year.
Conveying his message via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, Zuma took aim at president Cyril Ramaphosa, who had called his predecessor's term in office "nine lost years" while addressing a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, last week.
At various speaking events, Ramaphosa has also claimed the Zuma years were “tough” or “difficult” but says the governing party is now in a “process of renewal” and “healing”. Ramaphosa was Zuma’s deputy president from 2014 until assuming office in February 2018, when Zuma was forced to resign.
Laying out his loyalty to the governing party, Zuma cautioned his critics that his life was “woven into the fabric and tapestry of our country”.
“We are in an election year and it is not advisable for us to subscribe to the lie that the past decade has been a completely wasted one. It was the ANC in charge, and we should not be taking such a message of defeatism to those who have given us their votes, and trust. I do not believe we have betrayed that trust and I remain proud of much of what we and the country achieved over the past decade. These were not nine wasted years,” said Zuma.
While admitting more could have been done, he listed a series of successes throughout his tenure, which included the rollout of anti-retroviral drugs for people living with HIV/Aids, the increase of life expectancy from “58.8 years in 2007 to 64.3 in 2015”, the creation of the National Development Plan, the establishment of the Presidential Hotline, the rollout of basic services and that “more than R1 trillion was invested in national infrastructure projects between 2009 and 2014”.
Zuma said a “culture of despondency and near-defeatism seems to have crept into the ANC” after it lost both the Tshwane and Johannesburg Metros in Gauteng in the 2016 local elections.
“The loss of Johannesburg and Tshwane was blamed, by some, 'on Zuma'. But how many bothered to take the time to acknowledge that this was the same province where this same Zuma had been rejected by some in the provincial leadership, treated with embarrassment and most heavily criticised by the ANC itself? They did not want me to campaign for them in Gauteng – and they did not win any major metro. Even Ekurhuleni is governed now through coalition.”
“I never once blamed any predecessor or pointed to any perceived failing of any predecessor when I came to the leadership. There is no such thing as nine wasted years behind us,” said Zuma.
African News Agency (ANA)