Heaven knows Africa has had too many such leaders—people who failed their countries, yet remain determined to hold on to power, even though their time is past and the people are tired of them.
Somehow, however, such leaders never seem to get the message that the time has come for them to be gone. Some insist on clinging to power, one way or the other, though the monster they knew for so long has abandoned them, never to return.
The latest in what seems to be this persistent series of African power mongers is South African President Jacob Zuma who, like so many of his peers on this beleaguered (hounded, hassled, long-suffering) continent of ours, betrayed their people who willingly gave them power. The moment they got the power, they soon forgot their people and started using that power to enrich themselves, their families and cronies, totally forgetting the people in whom most democratic constitutions vest “all power.”
The constitution which most Liberians know best is our own, which in Article 1 states, “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people should have the right at such period and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments.”
Jacob Zuma desperately wanted power—so desperately that at one point he crawled on the floor towards President Nelson Mandela who, in humility, touched Zuma’s shoulder. This was seen by many to be the saintly Mandela’s blessing, and Zuma went on to be elected President of South Africa.
But no sooner had he acquired power, President Zuma soon forgot not only the people who had given him the power, but also President Nelson Mandela himself, the man whose blessing Zuma received and who spent 27 years of his precious life in prison so that Zuma and all the other people of South Africa—Whites, Blacks, Indians, and Coloreds—might be liberated from white minority rule and be given a chance to live freely and unfettered, to pursue their individual and collective dreams.
The first widely known scandal Zuma became involved in was spending over US$20 million fixing up his private home, including an Olympic size swimming pool. The South African people and parliament demanded that he repay that money, which they say could have gone to improve the substandard schools in black townships around the country.
But these are some of the “people” that Zuma soon forgot about. The biggest of the scandals in which President Zuma became involved was his unholy alliance with the Guptas, a super rich and powerful Indian family Zuma made even more powerful by allowing them to name members to the South African Cabinet.
The family would call anyone of their choosing and give him or her any Cabinet or other powerful position, in order to further entrench themselves (the Guptas) in power in South Africa.
Is that why President Mandela had given Zuma his blessing—to take all that power and bestow it upon a small family from a minority ethnic group?
What about the black majority who, despite the liberation the country won in the early 1990s following Mandela’s release from prison, still remain landless, powerless, and poor? Zuma’s mismanagement of the South African economy, coupled with his corrupt governance, brought it to near collapse, and the Rand, the country’s currency, to an all-time low.
But like all corrupt and failed African leaders, Zuma does not know when to quit. It is because of his bad leadership that the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the country’s most powerful political party which, led by Nelson Mandela, ushered South Africa into liberation, has, for the first time, lost political ground in several parts of the country.
Now that it has become clear to all that, for the good of the ANC and the South African nation, it is time for Zuma to go, he is still clinging on to power, which by his own undoing, he lost a while ago.
We hope and pray that President Zuma will see reason to quit within the next 24 hours and not subject himself to forced removal by ANC leaders or by impeachment by the South African Parliament.