THE EDITORIAL | We have not learnt from Jacob Zuma

The rise of Former President Jacob Zuma should be a cautionary tale lest South Africa repeat the same mistake with Ace Magashule, the article suggests.
The rise of Former President Jacob Zuma should be a cautionary tale lest South Africa repeat the same mistake with Ace Magashule, the article suggests.
Image: Twiitter

One lesson SA should have learned in the years preceding former president Jacob Zuma's rise to power is how an alleged villain can easily become a "victim" in the faces of many, then use this "victimhood" as political capital.

It all has to do with perceptions and the sad reality that, because of our history, there is still a lot of mistrust out there of the establishment as well as mainstream media.

He was certainly not the only one to exploit this, but Zuma is the best example of a politician who directly benefitted from this mistrust.

Much of the "negative" media reporting on him as well his condemnation by opposition parties in the period leading up to 2005 was justified.

The man was in the centre of a major political scandal involving his then financial adviser Schabir Shaik and the arms deal.

But at times the criticism seemed to be reaching levels of obsession where the man would be attacked for things that were regarded as acceptable when done by other politicians.

This played right into his hands, with Msholozi using such cases to claim that he was a victim of the elite in the state, the opposition, as well as the media.

While criticism and the condemnation of those who do wrong is important in society, we should be careful that it is always done in a manner that is fair and even-handed.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has, rightly, come under scrutiny largely due to allegations of corruption involving him.

This has meant that his every move is closely watched, and every utterance he makes is a source of controversy.

Indeed he has made a number of silly comments since becoming ANC secretary-general.

But in all the criticism, fairness is required - lest his critics inadvertently turn him into a new Zuma by making him look like "a victim" in the eyes of those who remain suspicious of the mainstream.

The outrage, for instance, over his giving of R400 to a family during an election campaign in the Western Cape last week seems unfair given that other leaders in the past have done so without protest from anyone.

Is the outrage because this time it was done by an unlikeable Magashule?

If that is the case then we have not learned from our recent past and are, potentially, helping to produce another Zuma.

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