Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 9:11am
On this past Monday Zuma surprised many who in typical referee stance want to instruct this president how he must govern and lead. By now having lived through almost 3 years of a Zuma presidency, one must ask what agenda informs these unsubstantiated claims of a president who can’t show leadership. Monday does not stand in a vacuum if leadership is the guiding philosophy of assessment for a Zuma presidency.
Those who want to applaud him as a solitary move of leadership shown are simply not conscious or prove economical with history. If Monday showed a president who can decide and lead than it is to said the claim of him being puppet controlled by unseen hands simply proves vacuous and the imagination of the mentally weak.
Let us therefore make sense of this latest show of leadership on the part of the president, which is a consistent theme if the critical issues of former kairos moments can attest.
You will recall that the president was said to be soft on Julius Malema early in 2010 when Malema was making wild statements, the president and the Secretary general brushed off the gaffes of Malema as that of a growing young man that must be allowed to grow into a cadre of quality. Those who know in SA body politik manifested in public intellectual embrace, who contended Zuma is checkmated for a Malema made him and he cannot even attempt at correcting Malema filled our ears with this what I call “bathroom analysis”. The truth is Malema landed before a DC which exacted a guilty finding with a sentence on him, the same which perhaps now constitutes the most damning aspect of the latest disciplinary charges and may become the undoing of Malema in this epoch.
Zuma during the worst public sector strike ever in post apartheid paradigm was threatened by Tri- Partite alliance leaders such as COSATU and it’s vocal Vavi. We all know how the bespectacled Vavi showed wide eyes as he threatened to bring this country to a standstill.
That threat had little to do with the country but was necessary a salvo of attacks against the leadership of the Zuma presidency, for the interviews and claims by the organized labour leaders shared sentiments of betrayal, lack of leadership on the part of the Zuma administration and abuse of alliance partners the same who claimed they made him as president.
For weeks on end the alliance was said to be in disarray and it was mooted COSATU would establish it’s much awaited Workerist party. The truth is the president left for China on an important trade trip, amidst the emotional blackmail of the likes of organized labor leadership castigation. When he returned as I stated in my 2010 article he instructed both parties into the chamber to trash out a deal. In the end the Zuma leadership won the public strike when organized labour came out the complete looser with Vavi sounding like contesting for Themba Maseko (former Government spokesman) job in defending the government’s final offer- which became the final deal.
This led to the much publicised and speculated ANC NGC which those who claim to know told us was his second leg of rubicon. The likes of Mondli Makhanya and Adam Habib read Zuma’s premature obituary as one who will be buried alive at the NGC. Zuma opted not to go the UN meeting, for which haters condemned him too, yet he delivered a political report that attested to one being in control of organization and country.
The political report made it clear that the Tripartite Alliance is not an agreement between friends informed by equality and votes served in appeasement but one which is led by the ANC, in which such leadership is not up for negotiation. He equally told alliance members they have been behaving like opposition party members.
This political report cut the proverbial powerwings of a Malema when Zuma read the youth the riot act in typical authoritative manner. Malema as we know then cut a lonely figure at the NGC save for the support of the true Mother of the Nation, Winnie Mandela who has always supported the case of the underdog.
The next so called challenge or measure of leadership shown came with the president’s first major cabinet reshuffle. All that know will attest this was the first of such in democratic SA context. Again the pundits saw in Siphiwe Nyanda the minister of communications a nemesis and the litmus test as commentary ran wild that he can challenge a Zuma leadership if Zuma should try and offload him. The truth is Zuma fired Nyanda with no fear or subsequent ramifications which attests to his Zuma leadership and Nyanda’s pragmatism as loyal ANC member. This cabinet reshuffle proved again Zuma leads his way and is his own man.
This reshuffle, historic proved so different to what Mbeki stood for. Mbeki would be accused for proving loyal to those he elected as a reflection of himself and chose never to act against anyone even when ministers failed and proved dysfunctional. The solitary time he acted was in June 2005 when he chose to fire Zuma as deputy president, a move now better understood as was politically informed.
Zuma showed leadership on the appointment of his preferred candidate for the Constitutional Court amidst threats of court cases, the new found way to attempt at ruling from a lost ballot. Notwithstanding the fact that many tried to emotionally blackmail him and the personal contestation showed in a deputy chief justice emotional and childish behavior during the interview of a Mogoeng Mogoeng. He stuck to his guns even when the DA threatened legal action. In the end his candidate is serving endorsed by the Judicial Service Commission. I shall venture to say he showed leadership in a consistent manner.
The ANC under Zuma as president was forced to act against a Malema for the actions and utterances of the ANCYL leadership following it’s 24th Elective conference. Many said again he lacked the “balls” to act against Malema, yet the disciplinary charges were instituted and despite a drawn out process Malema is not out of the woods regardless to whether some who have their ambitious eye on the throne proved opposing in choosing sides in opposition to a Zuma instituted disciplinary hearing against Malema. Not kow- towing but allowing political power ambition driven agendas to show themselves the president stuck to his guns regardless to whether some said he won’t get a second term. Not held immured by the threats he stuck with his decision and said those who seek a political solution for this conundrum of youth league hearing, must speak up and not in the corridors.
Zuma reopened the much publicized and pet subject of corruption informed armsdeal. The reasons advance by those who claim to know centers on a claimed political agenda on the part of Zuma. They say he was compelled to make such decision for fear of being instructed by the Constitutional Court as lodged by Terry Crawford-Browne. Be that as it may, the president took a decision to re-open the armsdeal a very thorny and difficult aspect by appointing a legal commission of enquiry to be led by Justice W. Seriti. Yet now the pundits have shifted again as the always do the goalposts by saying the detail of this enquiry is immanent in the term of reference it is predicated upon.
Having given a adumbrated history of leadership as a context for the Monday firing of the cabinet ministers Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, Sicelo Shiceka and the suspension of General Bheki Cele must serve as clear prove of his leadership for in the face of much volatile political context he made his decisions without fear or reprise.
He proved to those who saw him as being made by others that he is his own man. To have made these decisions tells us much more of the prism of Zuma leadership as a leadership that fears not friend or foe. It’s a leadership that will not be held imprisoned by friendship but informed by principle, in the which the overarching theme has to be the greater good of the society.
Lameduck presidency is what newscasters speculated, for these refuse to be honest to admit such adjective is common for all presidents who serve the final 2 years of their term. Yet they tell us Zuma is a lameduck president and will prove a puppet, just than he throws down the gauntlet on them and makes known his decisions which defies their very untested assertions.
Decisions carefully arrived at, decisions compliant with the legal requirements and conscious of DUE PROCESS embrace, a subject less understood by those who demand of Zuma to act as if this country is led by a buffoon in banana republic embrace. For these want us to believe that the office or reports of the public protector stands innately as divine truth, not to be contested, challenged or tested but embraced as existentially right. That such reports warrants a denial of due process and legitimate procedures.
Yet despite this prove of consistent leadership the haters will always find some mellifluous theory and even mendacious reason to keep telling SA, this nation is led by someone who is not his own man. They will continue selling us their bias hateful dissent draped in an myopic analysis oblivious to the truth that we the masses are capable to see and think for ourselves.
They will continue telling us this president is controlled by some yet they cannot tell us who the proverbial puppet string masters are when neither the youth league, alliance partners, fellow NEC members who have presidential ambitions to rule, those with money in and outside the ANC, even fellow top six leaders qualify to be the unseen masters behind Zuma leadership for these have chosen sides and such is not for Zuma.
I guess the case can be made that the president takes his time but proves decisive when he acts even if such surprise his haters leaving them in sixes and sevens as the latest Moeletsi Mbeki diatribe attests.
I wish to contradict Eric Naki firstly for misreading the role of the public protector and not appreciating the office and function that embraces an ethic that demands of such to investigate and recommend. It therefore cannot be argued that her recommendations being strong action forced the president to fire and suspend alike. This type of reading proves hollow if the aforementioned incidents of leadership on the part of Zuma is taken into an account .
Naki like some seeks to give the office of the public protector a personality in political authority definition which in my assessment does more of a disservice to the public protector role. Secondly he like so many before has been sold the obituary and eulogy reporting of a Mangaung burial of Zuma, the nimble comeback kid of political definition.
I shall dare to assert Zuma will get a second term at Mangaung for the road to Mangaung is still a meandering path in which the chess game of organisational politics will shift and re-shift again. It is my contention that Zuma’s grasp on political formation, his capacity to be less intimidated by the haters manifested in all spheres, his organizational context, his reading on the plateau combined with a few ace cards up his sleeve will see him return to power and continue leading SA slow for some but decisive when it is seen.
Until then the haters and those who are ‘objective’ ( for who in this murky world of sides are objective) will be kept guessing and churn out analysis after analysis and never concede Zuma is a decisive leader in his own unparalleled stature.
If you ask me, it’s time to finish my book “Jacob Zuma’ I did it my way” due in December 2011.
Bishop Clyde N. Ramalaine, founder of The Thinking Masses is an Independent observer and author of “Through the Prism of My Soul”- and Anthology of political commentary and analysis.