KENNETH MOKGATLHE | It's incredible how Zuma has mastered playing the victim

Despite all the dark clouds hanging over him, the former president can still put together a legion of followers

Former president Jacob Zuma and now leader of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party addresses his supporters outside the high court building in Durban..
Former president Jacob Zuma and now leader of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party addresses his supporters outside the high court building in Durban..

Jacob Zuma has over the years mastered the art of manipulation of the minds of black electorates and followers by often depicting himself as a victim of hidden powerful forces who do not want him to hold public office because in his mind, he has concluded that he is the saviour of his people. 

His die-hard supporters are still asking wenzeni uZuma? (What has Zuma done?) He responds by claiming that he has done nothing and continues to portray himself as the victim who is clueless about the reasons for his “persecutions” by hidden, powerful forces. 

I have decided to write this piece to respond to those who are asking what Zuma has done. 

He claims not to understand why he is considered part of corrupt players in the multi-billion-rand arms deal. Zuma’s financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, was imprisoned for soliciting a bribe on behalf of Zuma from Thint, a local subsidiary of French company Thales, while Zuma walked scot-free. Shaik was imprisoned for 15 years in 2005 but was released on medical parole in 2009. Zuma still does not want to acknowledge that he was involved in corruption in the R30bn arms deal of 1999.

President Cyril Ramaphosa shocked everyone when he said he would “believe” the late Fezekile Kuzwayo about the rape allegations against Zuma which took place before 2009.  Zuma was later acquitted of the rape charges and became the president of SA for nine years.

As could be expected, Zuma used his influence to portray himself as the victim of another scandal by hidden powerful forces, the paranoid man he seems to be.

Now, as a powerful man in the country, he helped his party, the ANC, to run the country down to the ground by continuing to engage in the looting spree with the controversial Gupta family which undermined the sovereignty of this country. 

As usual, he still does not know about the landing of a private jet at Air Force Base Waterkloof which was carrying over 200 guests at the wedding of Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia in 2013. He still does not know that incident, and in his world, he is being victimised. Unfortunately, people continue to follow him with this dark cloud over him.

To make matters worse, the outcomes of the state capture inquiry, a commission sanctioned by the state to investigate corruption and the involvement of private entities in running the government, shows that the president and his cabinet took marching orders from the now fugitive Gupta family. The Gupta brothers were unelected government officials who nearly collapsed the troubled government.

His two terms in office are credited with the collapse of government institutions, SOEs, of the government such as municipalities and government departments.

What I have also figured out is that people who are sympathetic to Zuma are still occupying senior political offices in government, and the ANC did not do much to help root out corruption in government. Municipalities continue to be used as cash cows by some tenderpreneurs associated with the ANC.

So, the question should be, what is Zuma plotting now?

Zuma is part of the problem as he is among people who helped entrench corruption in state institutions. How long will it take the new leadership to instill ethical and moral values, systems and policies that will guide and drive the country’s civil service, politics, education, economy, development, or other spheres of society?

It is worrying that there are people who were prepared to lay down their lives for a man whose incarceration for contempt of court sparked the July 2021 riots, which led to looting of mass proportions and loss of lives around Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

As usual, Zuma never condemned the misdemeanor by those who hid behind his name for narrow political interests. He kept quiet because he enjoyed being seen as a victim of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's state capture inquiry.

It is difficult to believe anything associated with Zuma, including the recent “accident”. He is not a man to be trusted. At the moment, he is laying the foundation for excuses to engage in a soft coup after this year’s elections because he knows his party will not even win KwaZulu-Natal with an outright majority.

So, he is going to do what Kenya's “permanent” opposition, Raila Odinga, has done over the years by not accepting defeat.

  • Mokgatlhe is a political writer and researcher

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