When Jacob Zuma and his sidekicks departed for the United States (US) a week ago, we were told that the purpose of the visit was to further strengthen relations between South Africa and the US, and to discuss areas of further cooperation. What utter bollocks! Strengthening what relations? The ANC has no diplomatic relations with the White House, or any relations whatsoever. I fail to see the rational for party to government relations between the ANC and the US. The only relations between South Africa and the US are at government level; and neither of the sidekicks that accompanied Zuma are at national government.
Condolezza Rice summoned Zuma to the White House like a schoolmaster would to a little miscreant, to come explain himself and what policies the ANC would pursue after the next elections. However, the ANC as electioneering propaganda would like to exaggerate Zuma’s importance in the grand scheme of politics by portraying him as an important statesman-in-waiting whose audience is sought by the White House. The opposite is true; it became apparent during his visit that the White House holds Unshini Wami in lowest regard.
It is unsurprising that Zuma’s hosts, Condolezza Rice and George W Bush, including senior White House officials, refused Umshini Wami a photo opportunity to save themselves the embarrassment of being splurged in front pages of newspapers in the presence of a man accused of corruption and doing everything in his power to avoid prosecution. Iraq was embarrassment enough for the Bush administration and clearly they did not need another.
Zuma did not do his already shattered image much good on his interview with CNN when probed about the situation in Zimbabwe. Pressed to explain whether he would take a tougher stance against Robert Mugabe, typical of the president of the ANC, he mumbled incoherently before the news anchor cut him off and proceeded with much more worthy business of news. His performance on that CNN interview was an absolute embarrassment and an unfavourable reflection on the country and its people. One question stood in my mind – how did this man get to be a presumptive presidential candidate?
Following his uninspiring performance on an international news network, Umshini Wami went before the US Council on Foreign Relations and again the man who may be president of the country displayed a disingenuous streak and lack of respect for the truth when commenting on a number of issues affecting the country. His audience expressed concerns, among other things, about the present threat to the independence of the judiciary, press freedom, threats of violence, the growing influence of the SACP on policies of the ANC as well as likelihood of constitutional principles being trampled on by the ANC.
Zuma was quizzed about the radicalism and idiocy displayed by the leader of the ANC kindergarten league, Julius Malema. What was an opportunity to categorically condemn Malema and distance the ANC from nonsensical radicalism was squandered when Zuma instead preferred to defend Malema and attempted to use the name of Nelson Mandela to justify Malema’s abhorrent behaviour. He informed his audience how Mandela was radical as a member of the ANCYL, deliberately omitting to inform his gullible audience that the circumstances during the Mandela era necessitated such radicalism given the determination of the enemy against whom the struggle for liberation was waged.
Zuma went on to encourage Malema’s behaviour when he said: “If we didn’t have youth who do that, we would not have vibrant youth that could be leaders of tomorrow … I don’t think Malema meant what he said, that he’s going to do it.” It is appalling that a person upon whom the youth should look up to is being encouraged by his elders, who should know better, to threaten the country with violence, insult his elders and undermine the independence of the judiciary.
On corruption charges, as expected, Zuma attempted to paint a picture of charges that had been specifically manufactured by Mbeki to prevent him from becoming president. The statement by former national director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, that there was a “prima facie case” against Zuma but that it was not winnable, according to Zuma was confirmation that there is a political conspiracy against him. He believes Ngcuka was deliberately putting on before the court of public of opinion in order to damage his irreversible reputation.
He said: “If there was no political manipulation, why did Bulelani say that? Sitting next to him was Minister Maduna, who said a number of things about me. Why did Maduna sit there?”
Further confirmation about a political conspiracy according to Zuma’s wisdom was the rumour before the Polokwane conference that he was going to be recharged. He believes that such rumours were linked to “political tensions” at the time. Zuma is somehow convinced that Mbeki was using the threat of re-charging him to influence the outcome of the Polokwane conference. Without any evidence whatsoever, Zuma tells his international audience that the reason for him being charged a few weeks after the Polokwane conference was in response to the unfavourable results to Mbeki.
On economic policies, Zuma told the Washington Times journalist that the ANC is open to debate with anyone; and again reiterated that no changes to policies are envisaged but later contradicted himself by saying that the Alliance Economic Summit was held to review if policies agreed to in Polokwane were working as intended. We know very well that the SACP and Cosatu are adamant and pressing for the review of monetary policy; and the ANC secretary general also believes economic policies should change. In a desperate attempt to reassure anxious investors, Zuma said, “everything is fine in South Africa.” Is that so Mr. Zuma? It is clear that The Washington Times did not believe a word he said when it reported that the Nicholson judgment, “opens the prospect for continued political turmoil in South Africa.”
Most shocking of Zuma’s responses when asked whether he was in favour of free trade between South Africa and the United States, Umshini Wami unashamedly said he could not comment because the issue was under discussion. Mr. Zuma c’mon now! You are likely to be president of the country – surely you must have an opinion of your own, particularly on such issues affecting the economy. It is this kind of performance that continues to entrench the perception that Zuma may be a mere puppet of some people within the ANC. He lacks an independence of thought and imagination and continues to find intellectual sanctuary in the “collective” wisdom.
As a self-proclaimed champion of the poor, Jacob Zuma could not elaborate how he intends to deal with concerns of the poor. He waffled senselessly without saying anything meaningful. He mentioned the prioritisation of rural development without explaining what he meant by that and only informed his audience, who I assume at this time must have been shocked that a person can speak for an hour without saying anything, that the ANC was still discussing how to address poverty.
He said, “Regulation of the first economy suffocates the second economy.” Are Jacob Zuma and the ANC considering deregulation in order to revive the second economy? That is an interesting perspective by Jacob Zuma given that the world laments inadequate regulation as one of the primary causes of the current global financial turmoil. Perhaps the ANC knows something that the rest of us don’t.
Jacob Zuma made too many boo-boos during that interview for me to elaborate on. Here is a link to his hour long waffling: http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library/includes/templates/library/flash_popup.php?pID=281899-1&clipStart=&clipStop=
It is shocking that this is the man that could potentially be the face of South Africa!