South Africa, after the dismantling of apartheid regime and the restoration of majority rule had great expectations of a bastion of democracy worthy of emulation by the rest of African countries. The first 15 years that produced two elected democratic presidents, late Nelson Mandela (1994 – 1999) and Thabo Mbeki (1999 -2009) epitomized attributes of good governance such at transparency, accountability, rule of law, social justice and a zero-tolerance corrupt society. That Nelson Mandela stepped down in office after one term, is a feat yet to be equaled by any elected president in the 53 member states of African Union AU.
Fifteen years after, the great expectations that South Africa will be a bastion of democracy and good governance became clouded with uncertainty by the antecedents of the immediate past president, Jacob Zuma who compromised his presidency on the altar of power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Infact, Jacob Zuma will go down in history as an African leader who was disgracefully removed in office as a deputy president and president of South Africa respectively. The trouble with Jacob Zuma dated back to 2005, when Justice Squares of the Durban High Court in the judgment of the case of the State v. Schabir Shaik and Others, indicted then South Africa’s Deputy President, Jacob Zuma.
Addressing the Joint Sitting of South Africa’s Parliament on June 14th, 2005 the then President, Thabo Mbeki noted that the court’s pronouncement relating to the Deputy President, Hon. Jacob Zuma, raised questions of conduct that would be inconsistent with the expectations that attend those who hold public office. While emphasizing that the executive should position itself diligently, Thabo Mbeki said that “As President of the Republic, I have come to the conclusion that the circumstances dictate that in the interest of the Honourable Deputy President, the Government, our young democratic system, and our country, it would be best to release the Hon. Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as Deputy President of the Republic and Member of the Cabinet”. Excerpts of Mbeki’s address at the Joint Sitting of South Africa’s Parliament on the release of Hon. Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as Deputy President forms second part of this cover story.
Ironically, Jacob Zuma succeeded Thabo Mbeki in 2009 at the expiration of his tenure. Political analyst’s attributed this to Zuma’s soaring image as one of the top South African freedom fighters in the dark days of apartheid regime coupled with the Appeal Court exonerating him from the Durban High Court judgment. Latter developments have vindicated Thabo Mbeki.
Yes, in 2009, Jacob Zuma became the third democratically elected President of South Africa and the ruling African National Congress ANC, dominated the Parliament. But unlike his two predecessors, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki Zuma’s presidency was characterized by social unrest, in the name of Xenophobia, but most importantly grave corruption allegations against the President himself to the extent that early February 20018, Jacob Zuma was stripped of his leadership of the ruling African National Congress. Precisely on 12th February 2018, the ANC asked Jacob Zuma to resign or face impeachment, a call Zuma described as unfair. At this point in time, he faced numerous corruption allegations but denied any wrongdoing. The nemesis of his removal as Deputy President under Thabo Mbeki still trailed him as President until 14th February 2018 when he announced his resignation as President of South Africa. The resignation received with jubilations in the parliament and beyond.
South Africa is perhaps the only country in Africa where internal democracy and party supremacy reign supreme. In less than 24 hours of Zuma’s resignation, the African National Congress ANC dominated parliament, named 65 years old Cyril Ramaphosa as the worthy successor to Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s fourth president. In his first presidential speech, he pledged to tackle corruption, pointing out that corruption and state capture were “on our radar screen”.
About a month after Zuma’s resignation, South Africa’s Chief Prosecutor announced that Jacob Zuma will be charged for fraud, profiteering and money laundering that are inimical to good governance. The world is waiting.
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