The politics of nastiness is strong in South Africa these days as open clashes occur between Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance and Jacob Zuma, the newly elected president of the nation and his African National Congress. Zille continues to blast Zuma for his record of being blatantly sexist while now herself being charged with ignoring women’s rights in selecting members of her Cabinet. Allan Boesak of the newly founded Congress of the People, (Cope) urges both Zille and Zuma to tone down their political debate. “What South Africa and here people do not need now is political discourse conducted at the level of personal attacks rather than responsible arguments.”
Boesak reminds Zille and other opponents of Zuma that the vast majority of the nation voted for the African National Congress and it was time to end personal attacks and get back to the issues facing society. In many respects, this clash is similar to Republican attacks on President Clinton and his sexual escapades which eventually got out of hand and became caught in impeachment proceedings that tore apart the country.
Jacob Zuma is undoubtedly a man whose past experiences reveal lack of respect for women and their dignity as individuals. Helen Zille is a fighter for democracy, but selecting an all white, all male Cabinet is insulting to both women and black skinned people.
South Africa has made a dramatic switch from being a country in which apartheid and prejudice ruled into one in which there are competing nations which view for leadership. However, the recent case brought by the government against African National Congress leader, Jacob Zuma, threatens to undo much as to what has been accomplished in creating a democracy. Zuma is charged with fraud, money laundering and corruption. His followers are demanding the charges be dropped because he is such a key leader and charging him with crimes distracts from his importance in leading the nation.
This blog does not know if Jacob Zuma is innocent or guilty, but that verdict must be rendered by a court of law.Zuma is a charismatic leader, but he must face charged against him in court and put up a defense that proves the government has a trumped up case. In so doing, Zuma will be telling the people of South Africa that no single person is above the law.
Helen Zille, leader of the South African Democratic Alliance party, blasted Jacob Zuma, the candidate for president under the banner of the African National Congress. Ms. Zille charged Zuma was unfit to become president because of his refusal to guarantee the nation he will respect and abide by the South African constitution. She stated there were considerable concerns regarding his views on treatment of HIV/Aids patients, his refusal to guarantee the integrity of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s right to air controversial programs, the charges he currently is facing regarding alleged corruption, and his failure to support the right of authorities to conduct corruption investigations.
A major concern for Ms. Zille are statements made by Zuma about elections. She challenged him: “Will you publicly acknowledge that all political parties are equally legitimate before the law and that the results of any free and fair elections must be respected?” Ms. Zille termed the ANC leader an “enigma,”
A persistent tragedy for South Africa is that none of its leaders who followed the administration of Nelson Mandela are individuals with that man’s concern for constitutional rights.
Last week, the African National Congress selected Jacob Zuma as its leader, which ordinarily, given the party’s domination of South African politics, is a first step toward becoming president of the nation. However, South African prosecutors yesterday levied new charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering to go along with and earlier indictment of fraud and corruption. President Mbeki, a political opponent of Zuma, had fired him as the deputy leader of the nation after he was acquitted on rape charges, but his financial advisor was sent to jail for soliciting bribes. The new indictment was denounced by many sectors of the African National Congress as stemming from a vendetta by President Mibeki.
Ironically, all players in this crime drama belong to the same political organization– the African National Congress. Zuma’s trial will begin in April, 2008 and he has promised to step down from running for the presidency if he is convicted. Although, he has made that promise not all observers believe he will carry it out. Jacob Zuma plays the role of radical reformer who is on the side of the average African. This performance has gotten him popularity, but along the way, there are simply too many charges and indictments to make him other than a dubious leader of a nation that holds the mantle as conscience of the African continent. A true leader would retire gracefully from the scene, don’t hold your breath for this happening in the near future, regardless of the outcome of his trial.