South Africa’s Jacob Zuma seems to have mastered the art of survival as he secured a second-term to lead the governing African National Congress — and by extension the country, amid fierce competition and criticism.
Report by BBC Online
The 70-year-old has been in power since 2009 and has danced back and forth between controversy and victory during this period.
His government’s handling of the gruesome Marikana wage protests, in which 34 people were killed by police, was a distant memory inside the large white tent packed with ANC delegates who celebrated Zuma’s victory with thunderous applause, blaring vuvuzelas and ululating.
Zuma secured 2 986 votes out of the 3 977 cast — making it a decisive victory against his long-time comrade and reluctant challenger, Kgalema Motlanthe.
Many delegates in Mangaung in Free State, where the party was founded 100 years ago, expected the president’s victory, but opposition parties elsewhere were shocked by the result.
They questioned how the man who is currently being investigated for alleged misuse of millions of dollars in public funds for renovating his private home in Nkandla in KwaZulu Natal, had been given the chance to lead the country once more.
Main opposition leader Helen Zille, whose party snatched one of nine provinces from the ANC in the last election, a sign of growing dissatisfaction with the governing party, said Zuma’s win was bad news for South Africa.
She said it sent out a message that the party was a movement that put “powerful people” above the law.
But Zuma’s supporters see his success, despite any formal education, as a sign of hope that they too can lead successful lives — maybe not as prosperous as his but different from the oppressive life under apartheid.
To them his legal challenges and scandals are not enough to make them desert him.
“Our country is safe now from the thugs, the thieves,” exclaimed one of Zuma’s supporters inside the packed hall.
Another, Scelo Shabalala (55) from Mpumalanga province, said: “Zuma deserves another chance to prove himself. No one is perfect, but he is trying.”