Jacob Zuma -- Should South Africans be afraid?

According to this article, now that South African president Thabo Mbeki has stepped down, his most likely successor will be Jacob Zuma. Zuma’s got a checkered past, to say the least (he first came to my attention during his 2005 rape trial – in which, it must be said, he was acquitted).

I’ve followed previous threads on these boards discussing Zimbabwe and whether or not South Africa could follow it on its path to ruin. Many South Africans on those occasions were very confident that the same thing could not happen in their country (like here, for example.) But I have to say, the likely election of Zuma as president looks very discouraging from where I’m sitting.

So (whether or not he would or even could bring things quite to the level of ruination as Mugabe did in Zimbabwe) what would Jacob Zuma’s election mean for the future of South Africa? Should South Africans be afraid?

The Africans I know - none of them South Africans, but they follow the continent’s affairs closely - think Zuma will be a disaster. Their one hope is that business interests will prevail upon him to avoid acting on his worst impulses in the interest of maintaining relative prosperity.

Meh. I don’t like the man, but I’m not afraid, no.

Why should I be? Because he almost certainly is corrupt? Not the end of the world. Not loving it, but we’re actually in quite robust economic shape in South Africa. And he won’t be around forever - the ANC is not quite like ZANU-PF, there are more shifting alliances and a more dynamic system than in Zim, I don’t see Zuma setting himself up as dictator-for-life.

We used to have a government that actively terrified me. Nothing* Zuma* could do would scare me short of death squads (again).

What does scare me a little is all the chickens running for Europe and Australia, which will surely increase now. Skills drainage is what might kill this country, and people might blame it on who is in charge, but at heart, a lot of them are just grateful for the excuse to cover up the real reason they don’t want to live in a majority-black country.

It’s worrying in the sense that Zuma is clearly a figurehead, much like your current President, and I don’t really know what the puppet-masters have planned. Hopefully they’re the sensible sort who have no interest in crashing the system. On the other hand, the idea floating around that the Mbeki camp will split off from the ANC would be fantastic news.

MrDibble, it’s all about the crime*. If Zuma can start lowering the crime rate, people will stop leaving. Easier said than done with the mess that is our education system, but hey.
*yeah yeah, some are certainly just racists, but I think most of them are already gone. The current drainage is about crime IMO.

If the number of unsolicited CVs that we are receiving is any guide, a high proportion of the actuaries want to get out.

There’s a lack of actuary jobs here ATM I believe (sister is one). Also, when you’re white your chance of getting a job are…not so good.

ETA: Actually, that’s just in Cape Town, dunno about Joburg. It’s probably similar in most professional jobs though, people want away from the crime.

Politics in SA are far from being about a true democratic voting process where you (hopefully) vote about issues. The ANC currently has such a majority that any talk of an “opposition” party is mostly nonsense. I think we are still a good few years (or decades) away from a system where the voting is mostly based on more politically mature issues.

The reason I mention that is that I feel it does not make much sense to look at the person as much as the party. Whoever leads the ANC leads the country, but the current political nonsense is about in-fighting and political positioning for the elections. To all intents and purposes the ANC have already won the elections. So in some ways it could be argued that the “democratic process” is taking place WITHIN the ANC. The election of Zuma as head of the ANC reflects a sort of voting process within the party.

In many ways this is exactly what gives me hope. No single person carries so much power that he cannot be removed. The party is not singularly united in one belief and one person. And THIS is why we are not like Zimbabwe. We might not be 100% first world but we try. Yes Zuma might be the flavour of the moment but we’ll see what happens in the future.

I don’t particularly like him but then I’m not sure exactly what he stands for. As with most politicians his stances change depending on who he’s speaking to. The proof will be in his actions. But I’m not particularly worried that we’ll turn into Zim. I look on it as political posturing.

If he starts making wide sweeping changes to benefit a minority of entitled politicians, against huge opposition and public outcry, and suppresses the opposition with violence - THEN I’ll be worried.

Conversely, if people would stop leaving, crime rates would go down, as we’d have the teachers, entepeneurs, etc. to address the root causes of crime. Egg/chicken.

How, exactly, is Zuma supposed to go about lowering the crime rate (other than stop doing it himself, I mean :wink: )

You’d be surprised. For ex., a lot of Coloured IT techs are leaving now, and anecdotally, I’ve hear some pretty racist shit coming from some of them just before they go.

Hijack: Anyone up for a Cape of Good (Straight) Dope evening sometime? I was thinking Forries or Paulaner, maybe? Or Brass Bell, even?

Zuma does not frighten me as an individual, but the attitude of some of his followers is cause for some concern. Thier attitude toward the alleged victim during his rape trial was (I think) unforgivable & and some of the pronoucements about the constitutional court justices have been very worrying.


(re Hijack - I’d be keen)

Update: Parliament has chosen Zuma’s deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, to be a caretaker president until the 2009 elections.

Afraid? No. Immensely disappointed? Yes.

Here is a man who has sex with a known AIDS sufferer while taking absolutely no precautions, and believes that having a shower after the act is sufficient to prevent contracting AIDS.

Here is a man whose claim to oratory fame is the toyi-toyi jingle “umshini wami” (my machine gun). And this man is to be president?

He’s a fucking idiot.

I predict that his politics will be based on patronage. I predict an escalation in government corruption, as the Scorpions’ days are numbered.

But I also predict that the NPA will still give him grief. They’ve appealed the Nicolson ruling, so there’s hope yet.

(as for the hijack, I’d join you but it’s a fucking long way just for a drink :smiley: )

Not that I’m South African (though I do have some distant relatives there), but a (white, very left-wing) South African friend of mine had a bitch of a time for years trying to get a job as a lawyer (in Johannesburg). He finally ended up in Taiwan, where he taught ESL for several years before finally landing a legal job. He’s marrying a Taiwanese woman in a couple of weeks, so it looks like he plans to stay there for the foreseeable future. Though he misses South Africa terribly, and thinks it’s the most beautiful country on Earth, he isn’t optimistic about his chances of getting a job in his field there anytime soon.

Last time I heard from my relatives (who are mostly in Cape Town), their families have scattered to the four corners of the English-speaking world, as much for professional opportunity as for fear of the violence, though the relative who mostly e-mails me was carjacked in her front driveway along with her teenage daughter a couple of years ago.

Well I have to say so far the changes aren’t looking too bad. Anyone who can get rid of that dimwit we called our Health Minister can’t be all bad.

And if we end up getting a split in the ANC which might mean, one day, far in the future, a proper opposition party - that won’t be an entirely bad thing either.

Re hijack: That sounds like an excellent idea but I agree with **Mel **it’s a bit far to travel - but the good news is I might be moving doen to the Mother City in January and I can’t wait.

In that case, his existence might be a self-correcting problem! :slight_smile: