Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Zuma’s time has come

The Black Family: Zuma’s time has come
Denzil Taylor

For me, it doesn’t really matter that this is Jacob Zuma’s first term as president. Previously, he served as deputy president.

Zuma came to power on the wave of a party unhappy with former president Thabo Mbeki’s leadership style. And many will argue it was a lot more than mere leadership issues that got him fired. Mbeki’s time had come.

I will now argue that Zuma’s time has come.

Never in its modern history has the party been so weakened and divided. Never has it been so vulnerable as it has become under Zuma’s leadership. Never has the ruling party been so ineffective as a government.
The secretary-general reports have over the years spoken about the weaknesses in the organisation – about the infighting, weak branches and careerism. They have dealt with nondelivery and its reasons, and even corruption. They have even spoken about the tensions in the alliance.

But never, I think, have the reports dealt with the issue and the extent of the divided and weak leadership (top six) as we have now. Or even the alliance, and its dysfunctional nature, torn apart, as is the case today.

Present events are of the extreme.

There is the ANC Youth League that runs roughshod over everything and everyone it disagrees with, or who disagree with it.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe came under fire for daring to question the Youth League. Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor was told that her accent was not “African” and she was ridiculed publicly.

Zuma himself has had to sit on a podium with these young comrades while they ridicule both him and his lifestyle.

Today’s headlines around ANCYL president Julius Malema are about his so-called “secret” trust fund, from ill-gotten tenders.

It’s what pays for the parties, the now famous wrist watch, the vehicles, the homes and expensive alcohol, they say. But the issue here is not Julius.

Consider the public protector.

A brave individual who should have government’s full support for the work she does. Yes, they issued a statement to this effect. A statement! That’s all.

Consider the past few months of her work and the individuals involved.

Senior police officials and a minister who are all implicated in a deal that suggests that everything is not above board. It’s a deal that defies logic. And if it were not this serious we would all be laughing and rolling on the floor. Someone really tried to pull this off – at the taxpayer’s expense. It is always at the taxpayer’s expense.
Closer to home for Zuma is the so-called plot to oust him. His comrades want him removed. Does the plot really exist? Does the list of individuals exist? My guess is it does. I would go further to suggest that Zuma knows this. Sufficient numbers of ANC NEC members have suggested publicly that it does. Enough reason for Zuma to take it seriously.

But is this enough reason to ask that he serve one term? Probably not.

What is extremely worrying, though, is what is being allowed to happen on the ground. The devastating effect of a local government strategy gone wrong and a government increasing unconcerned about the funds that are meant for local government, and in particular, service delivery.
This, while individuals and their close family members become millionaires overnight.
Just what will we have to show when we celebrate 20 years of democracy? More importantly, let’s not celebrate 100 years of existence as a party next year knowing what we know. That had we done what was needed to be done, with the funds available, our poor would be in a better place today.

And when we reflect on those 100 years, let’s be brutally honest with ourselves and say what needs to be said.

That we have kept the poor impoverished because of the greed of some individuals and a party that will not face up to this reality.

Let’s not merely throw a party, or several, invite a band, a chommie, shout a few slogans and party through the night.

The sad truth is that funds meant for local government expenditure is at risk from this government. At risk from the get-rich-quick schemes that deprive the poorest of the poor.

Reports of corruption and maladministration have never been on this scale or frequency. Even more disturbing is the scale of theft. Mind-boggling! One hundred million here, 500 million there.

I doubt Zuma has the capacity to stop the rot. I doubt he has the capacity to deliver on that promise of “A better life for all”.

The ANC has many a cadre who can step up to the plate and take on this responsibility. Please won’t someone do just that? For the sake of this country!

Denzil Taylor is managing editor of news and sport at Jacaranda 94.2FM. He writes in his personal capacity.