Two years in office and our used-to-be popular president Jacob Zuma is constantly subjected to criticism from his political counterparts in the media. While former president Thabo Mbeki’s brother, Moeletsi Mbeki, can be forgiven for his ‘disrespectful and disingenuous’ remarks as per ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu, Zuma did after all usurp (I mean democratically attain) his brother’s throne and well that is bound to sting a little. Similar remarks are, if nothing else, shocking when coming from COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and ANCYL president Julius Malema. This is the same man that publicly announced that he would ‘kill for Zuma’ 3 years ago.
Back then Malema and many of the people (the undifferentiated masses) were affectionately calling him JayZet and/or Msholozi, rooting for him to become our next president. His trademark Zulu dance exhilarated us and we enthusiastically chanted along to Awuleth’ umshini wam (bring me my machine gun) after his lead. See, controversial ‘struggle hymns’ are definitely no stranger to the post-apartheid political scene. My friend said the only reason that one didn’t make it to the constitutional court, Juju, is because it connoted black-on-black violence and well AfriForum did not care (words I never said).
Back to JayZet, even when he faced corruption allegations, believing in our hearts of hearts that it was all a political conspiracy, we followed the trial religiously sternly awaiting his acquittal and exoneration. And as anticipated he was eventually acquitted. All twelve charges against him, including corruption, money-laundering, racketeering and fraud were dropped. That acquittal, the one before it of the rape trial and his inauguration were all met with jubilant celebrations by his ardent supporters. “After all the things people have done to him, he will prove people wrong”, Ms Kau (a supporter) was reported to have said.
His inauguration was viewed as a blessing, “When it rains before a big event, there is a Zulu saying: ‘Ilamagu Livumile’ which means, the ancestors have given their blessing”, Nankhithe Mampheele was saying. Moreover, as COSATU and all the many other ANC delegates had hoped when backing him at the 52nd ANC annual conference in Polokwane in 2007, Mr. Zuma’s leadership would lead to the democratic redistribution of the country’s wealth to benefit the poor masses, as was envisioned by the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programmed (RDP).
The replacement of Mr. Thabo Mbeki by JayZet was meant to reverse the 22 million under poverty and the 6 million unemployed. Brutal capitalist neoliberal policies have blatantly exploited and suppressed the working class all over the world and South Africa is no exception. Millions of people have been retrenched, been cut off from basic services, evicted and generally impoverished due to privatization, cost recovery and fiscal austerity and the neoliberal restructuring of GEAR.
Closer to home, outsourced supercare workers were subjected to gross exploitation (and even racism) and retrenchments in the private sector. And of course, who’s not feeling the pinch of the yearly tuition fees hike due to commercialization? However all that was supposed to be rectified by the charismatic “people’s leader”. He was our guy. He gave poor people hope. All of us were hoping as Nkompela Xolile that, “He knows the people of this country, those who live in the rural areas and he will help them”.
However GEAR continued and intensified under the Zuma administration. These days he is Mr President Jacob Zuma tweeting marketing campaigns for his daughters’ DSTV comedy show in a nice suit, ambivalent on dictatorship regimes, expanding the family (business) and his nephew’s belly along with it, whose state charged Daryl Peense with assault for spilling his drink on him in last year’s Durban July. What happened to the Zulu boy whose trademark Mshini wam was our cell phone’s ringtone interchangeably with Izingane Zoma’s Msholozi? What happened to Jayzet?
Maybe he never existed. Perhaps, like most other conceptions by the ruling class, the populist pro-poor character was but a fraudulent ideology imposed on the working class (yes I am a Marxist). Or he’s just been muted (or reformed) to suit office. Apparently even Trevor Manuel was a hardcore Marxist back in his day.
Nevertheless all the successes of the ANC-Zuma administration are not to be denied. Neither is the influence of the global setting to the ANC’s adoption of neoliberal policies back in ‘94 and even today. However seeing that these policies are not working (for the majority at least) isn’t it about time for a revision, or dare I say, revolution? Do excuse the radical overtones contained in this article, the point of my piece is this: I miss JayzetJ.