Mick Hall @ Organized Rage writes that:
In many ways Jacob Zuma is a remarkable man, but sadly he has disgraced himself and the high office he holds.
Jacob Zuma is a prime example of why senior members of the military usually make poor politicians and when it comes to voting for them we should poke them with a very long stick.
In many ways Zuma is a remarkable man. He received no formal schooling as a child yet managed to self educate himself, no mean feat given the circumstances he was born into. After bumming around Natal Province and the suburbs of Durban in his early teens he became political, and joined the ANC in 1959. By 1962 he was a trusted and active member of its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe.(MK)
Within months he was convicted of conspiring to overthrow the Apartheid government and sentenced to 10 years which he served on Robben island, where many senior ANC cadres were also imprisoned, including Nelson Mandela and other notable ANC leaders.
During his imprisonment he joined the South African Communist Party, (SACP) probably on the recommendation of CP members on the island. He also managed to get a sound educational grounding whilst there.
On being released he immediately reported back to Umkhonto we Sizwe and helped re-establish the organization's political and military underground structures in Natal province. He was forced into exile in 1975 becoming a protege of Moses Mabhida, a communist trade unionist who went on to command MK before becoming general secretary of the Communist Party.
Living and organising alongside senior MK officers like Joe Slovo and Chris Hani, both future leaders of the SACP, Zuma quickly moved through the ranks becoming a member of the ANC national leadership in 1977. He went on to work in the counter intelligence department of MK, ending up its head, a job he also held for approximately three years after his return to South Africa in 1990. If anyone knows the secrets of the ANC it's Jacob Zuma.
This information gave him enormous leverage when he decided to climb the greasy political pole to become the President of South Africa. Before and since attaining this office he has managed to overcome accusations and charges of rape, racketeering and corruption, yet still he remains in the Presidency, while his accusers often find their careers blighted.
Earlier this week he survived an attempt to impeach him after the African National Congress gave him its backing, ensuring he would survive as the party has an overwhelming majority in the South African Parliament.
The motion to unseat the president was launched by opposition MPs after the constitutional court ruled that he had ignored an order to repay state funds spent on a lavish upgrade of his private home.
Now a former CP comrade of Zuma, Ahmed Kathrada, one of South Africa’s most revered anti-apartheid activists has intervened in the growing controversy over President Zuma’s future by urging the embattled leader to step down for the good of the nation and the ANC.
To place a retired General in power is bad enough. When he is also a former head of intelligence it's the road to disaster and so it has proven with Jacob Zuma. Such a man is used to giving orders and expecting them to be obeyed without question. Consensus politics is not what they do, if individuals refuse to bend to their will, they are either forced to change their minds by fair means or foul, or are ordered to leave the political fray voluntarily. *
It seems much of what remains of the old guard of the ANC have had enough of Zuma; and Ahmed Kathrada drew the short straw when it came to writing an open letter demanding he resigns.
In a letter addressed to the President published in South Africa at the weekend, Kathrada said the scandal that has engulfed Zuma’s seven-year presidency had reached the point where only his resignation would allow the government to recover from a crisis of confidence.
In the face of such persistently widespread criticism, condemnation and demand, is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down?According to the Guardian:
The scandal is probably the biggest yet to hit Zuma, whose leadership has been mired with repeated accusations of wrongdoing since he took office in 2009. The latest revelations follow reports that the Guptas, a powerful business family close to Zuma, had a hand in choosing cabinet members. Last month a government official claimed that members of the Gupta family had offered him the post of finance minister.
Other scandals include a dodgy arms deal over which the former president Thabo Mbeki fired Zuma as his deputy, and another where Zuma was charged with the rape of a friend’s daughter but later acquitted.
Below is an abridged version of Ahmed Kathrada's letter.
Dear Comrade President Zuma
I have agonised for a while before writing this letter to you. I have been a loyal and disciplined member of the ANC and broader Congress movement since the 1940s. I have always maintained a position of not speaking out publicly about any differences I may harbour against my leaders and my organisation, the ANC. I would only have done so when I thought that some important organisational matters compel me to raise my concerns.
Today I have decided to break with that tradition. The position of president is one that must at all times unite this country behind a vision and programme that seeks to make tomorrow a better day than today for all South Africans. It is a position that requires the respect of all South Africans, which of course must be earned at all times.
I am not a political analyst, but I am now driven to ask: Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as President will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?
And bluntly, if not arrogantly, in the face of such persistently widespread criticism, condemnation and demand, is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down?
If not, Comrade President, are you aware that your outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle stands to be severely tarnished if the remainder of your term as President continues to be dogged by crises and a growing public loss of confidence in the ANC and government as a whole.
To paraphrase the famous MK slogan of the time, “There comes a time in the life of every nation when it must chose to submit or fight”. Today I appeal to our President to submit to the will of the people and resign.
Ahmed M Kathrada
* As the former SA President Thabo Mbeki eventually did after a vicious campaign was mounted against him after he removed Zuma from his post as Deputy President of South Africa when he became implicated in a corruption scandal.