Zuma is a nice guy but leadership is not about being nice

Having learnt the hard way about the effects of institutionalising denialism as a national creed, we cannot continue manufacturing a "reality" that suits us.

Having learnt the hard way about the effects of institutionalising denialism as a national creed, we cannot continue manufacturing a "reality" that suits us.

For years there was denialism about what caused Aids. We were in denial about our electricity supply capabilities. We paid dearly for immersing our heads in the sand when we should have asked difficult and sometimes impolite questions.

Now we are reluctant to confront the uncomfortable truth that Jacob Zuma might not be the best man to lead the country. He is far too morally compromised for that.

It is to be denialist to pretend that there is no cloud hanging over the allegations that Zuma was involved in arms deal corruption. Nobody is saying he is corrupt but the fact that his comrade and friend is in jail on a corruption conviction in which he was a beneficiary does not seem to me a factor to be ignored - unless you are a denialist.

It is the height of denialism to say that there is nothing wrong with having a president who spends time in court fighting allegations that he is corrupt and a racketeer.

Denialists will say that being concerned about Zuma's appropriateness is the same as saying that the ANC is not the best party to lead this democracy. The ANC is more than capable to deliver on the aspirations of the people of this country. And it has many capable leaders who are up to the job.

But since the ANC has chosen Zuma to be that person, the least they can do is explain to us why we should not be bothered by having a president who might not finish his term because he could be in jail or sentenced to over 12 months without the option of a fine.

Please don't tell me how popular he is. It is not a popularity contest. It is about his suitability to be president of the country.

The argument that he will win, come what may, is akin to that patently tribalist comment about the guy who boasts about how intelligent his friend is, only for the other guy to say, kodwa mina ngamshaya (it doesn't matter how intelligent he is, I can beat him up). It is most certainly not an argument worth entertaining.

To say that Zuma is the best person for the job because he is a congenial figure is to insult the people of South Africa. Not even burial societies elect leaders on the basis of their being nice. Why should we settle for such a poor standard of leadership?

Those who float Zuma's name as our country's next CEO want us to do so on the basis of faith rather than policy initiatives. It is not good enough that he has no defined thought on critical areas, saying they need to be debated. If you want things debated, join a radio station and be a talk show host. Leaders must lead.

Until we know exactly what it is that Zuma represents, we are being asked to choose a president in the same way as we would exercise our options at a pick-a-box show. If we are lucky we win big. If not, we leave empty-handed

We cannot have that. We are talking about our country's future, not a stokvel. It's nothing personal, Msholozi.