President Jacob Zuma, a self-made leader who is always viewed with suspicion. File image: IOL
THE recent launch of Redi Tlhabi’s Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezeka Ntsukela Kuzwayo, the long-awaited book on the woman who accused Jacob Zuma of rape in 2005, reopened old wounds.

These scars marred the president’s political career long before the Guptas became South Africa’s most famous “first family”. They reinforce the notion that the president is not just in the Guptas’ pockets but is also an immoral man who wantonly slept with a woman who considered him a father figure.

Our first citizen is the man widely seen as the chief chef of the rot that engulfs South African politics. Zuma has become our bogeyman as we battle unemployment, crime and poverty.  Of course he is no saint. So much clouds his personal judgment. And often when he tries to explain himself, it gets messy.   

For much of our collective memory, his name will linger. Parliament is familiar with his epitomising troubled times. Sometimes the JZ-blame game becomes so silly that some even blame him for the poor form of Bafana Bafana and the Springboks.   

Like a character in the classic Gore Vidal play, The Best Man, Zuma is a self-made man who, no matter his protestations, is always viewed with suspicion. As a character in the play, William Russell, puts it: “Any man who fights his way to the top is certainly to be admired, but the people sometimes wonder: how exactly did he do it? And who did he hurt along the way? The self-made man often makes himself out of the pieces of his victims.”

In a sense it is this cross that Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Mhlanganyelwa Zuma will always carry. It is in part this cross that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is being made to carry, mainly because she once loved Zuma and has children with him.

Based on this link with JZ, some dismiss her independence and integrity. I agree with ANC national executive committee member Febe Potgieter-Gqubule that this accusation is misogynist.

If there is confusion about her political and administrative credentials, does the ANC really exist? What for? Who are its legitimate leaders? We may be dealing with a severe case of political schizophrenia.

The stand-off in KZN between two factions, one led by Sihle Zikalala and the other by former premier Senzo Mchunu surely raises this question. The election of former Eastern Cape provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane as the Eastern Cape ANC provincial chairperson occurred amid deep-seated and bloody divisions.

Nationwide, the picture is no better. Once the ANC proudly described itself as a broad church, now it has become a scary museum of dissonance.
When ANC leaders evoke God, Jesus and submit themselves to prayers, we soon realise the joke is on us. The ANC’s own Comedy Central is alive and well. And there is no Noah’s Ark being built to save us all from the impending doom.

Cosatu is peeved that Zuma is openly punting for Dlamini Zuma to succeed him. Last week, the union federation galvanised mass support and marched in the thousands not to praise JZ or NDZ, but to bury JZ under the mantra of state capture and the newly discovered perils of corruption.

Cosatu wants Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma and, it would appear, ANC precedents confirm the technical correctness of their position. SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande says workers must rebel against the looting of state coffers. As usual,he is on fire: “Corruption and looting take money from the social grants of pensioners. 

The looting of SAA has plunged it into a crisis. The looting of Eskom has pushed up the price of electricity. Workers‚ you were in our minds during the war against the apartheid government. Blood was shed. Some of our brothers and sisters are no more. They died fighting to bring freedom in this country. How can we allow a situation, now that we have freedom‚ where a foreign family called the Guptas comes and takes the country? Workers can’t keep quiet.”

Not long ago our songs had a familiar ring – of freedom for all. They venerated OR Tambo, Mandela, Sobukwe, Biko and the Mxenges in a long list of Struggle heroes and martyrs. 

The ANC’s elective conference in December will no doubt be part carnival and part latrine. Unless the once-glorious ANC wakes up from its slumber, the nation will remain restless and sad in the songs it sings. Iph’indlela!  

* Sandile Ngidi is a poet and literary critic. 

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.