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Zuma’s clutching of straws

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That chapter of Zuma’s legacy can never be erased from history

Jacob Zuma. Picture: AP

NO ONE should begrudge any organisation, whatever their background and past record in society, their right to pay tribute to former president Jacob Zuma.

To host a gala dinner in his honour and present him with awards his supporters say he fully deserves, is entirely their prerogative.

Clearly, not all South Africans share the same zeal and admiration for Zuma, but organisations like National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA (Nafupa SA) and Black First, Land First (BLF) are well within their rights to view things differently.

And they no doubt have their own motives for doing so.

What is also not in question is the huge contribution Zuma has made to the Struggle for liberation in South Africa and the many years he spent in the trenches during the long liberation war.

That chapter of Zuma’s legacy can never be erased from history.

However, to portray the man as an exemplary leader and a beacon of inspiration for radical economic transformation and land reform in our country is stretching the truth way beyond reason.

For those with short or selective memories, it is important to remember that under Zuma’s leadership, South Africa’s image has taken a severe battering at home and internationally.

Even before he became president, he had been dogged by corruption charges relating to his relationship with his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik – charges which could well come back to haunt him in the coming months.

The Nkandla scandal over costly upgrades to his personal homestead in northern KwaZulu-Natal will not be easily forgotten.

Nor are many South Africans likely to forgive him for his alleged role in state capture and his controversial relationship with the Gupta brothers, who stand accused of looting the country’s purses through their cosy relationship with influential politicians. His tenure will probably go down as the worst by any president since the dawn of democracy, resulting in a drop in investor confidence, a weakening rand and frustration over growing poverty and unemployment.

Zuma clutches at straws when he points a finger of blame at powerful white business owners who, he claims, used black people to mastermind his removal from office. The truth is that when he recently resigned, he did so under pressure not from white business, opposition parties or some imagined third force, but by members of his own political party, the ANC.

The country stands a better chance of getting back on its feet again now that he is out of the scene.