How Jacob Zuma Turned on His Allies and Became a Surprise Election Foe

South Africa is holding an unprecedented national election this year, its eighth since transitioning from white minority rule to democracy 30 years ago.

According to polls and pundits, the ruling African National Congress party, which has been in power since Nelson Mandela became the country’s first Black president in 1994, may earn fewer than 50% of the vote for the first election.

One major reason is Jacob Zuma, the former president and ANC leader who resigned in disgrace in 2018 under a slew of corruption allegations but has reappeared in recent months with his own political organization. It expects to be a key election player as the former president seeks vengeance on former long-time allies.

Here’s all you need to know about the 82-year-old Zuma’s comeback to politics and how it could impact the election.

Who is Jacob Zuma?

Zuma has long been one of South Africa’s most well-known politicians. During the liberation war against apartheid, he served as a senior ANC leader. As a former ANC intelligence chief, he has repeatedly threatened to divulge some of the party’s secrets.

While Zuma was not Mandela’s favored successor, he trusted Zuma to play a significant role in putting an end to the fatal political violence that had consumed KwaZulu-Natal region prior to the historic 1994 elections.

Since then, the province has been a vociferous supporter of Zuma, and the majority of its residents are Zulu. Zuma became the ANC’s deputy leader in 1997 and was named South Africa’s deputy president in 1999.

How did he become president?

Zuma’s rise to power involved legal difficulties. In 2006, he was found not guilty of raping a comrade’s daughter at Zuma’s Johannesburg house. A year before, he was sacked as South Africa’s deputy president when his financial advisor was convicted of corruption for soliciting bribes for Zuma during a notorious arms transaction.

Alleging a political witch hunt, Zuma started a vigorous political campaign that resulted in his election as ANC president in 2007. His campaign capitalized on considerable unhappiness with then-President Thabo Mbeki, who was frequently portrayed as dictatorial and aloof. Zuma’s corruption charges were eventually dropped amid controversy, and he was elected President of South Africa in 2009.

How did he lose power?

Zuma’s presidency drew frequent criticism. His close friends and allies, the Guptas, were accused of influencing cabinet nominations in exchange for lucrative commercial deals. The ANC forced Zuma to quit in 2018 after charges of corruption in government and state-owned corporations.

Zuma was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 for refusing to testify after a judicial committee of inquiry unearthed extensive evidence. Zuma remains dissatisfied with the ANC and his replacement, Cyril Ramaphosa. However, few South Africans expected the break to go this far.

How has he reemerged?

Zuma startled the country in December when he denounced the ANC and campaigned against the party that had been central to his political career. His new political party, UMkhonto WeSizwe, takes its name from the ANC’s military wing, which disintegrated at the end of the war against white minority rule.

The ANC has filed a legal action to prevent the new party from using a name and logo identical to those of the military wing. The charismatic Zuma continues to tour the country, giving animated speeches, and a representation of his face will symbolize the party on ballots.

What are Zuma’s election chances?

The ANC had previously been under pressure from other opposition groups. However, Zuma’s new party has the potential to gain support within the ANC, which is regularly divided. Despite his previous conviction, South Africa’s electoral commission has approved him to vie for a seat in parliament.

According to polls, the new party has the potential to become one of the country’s largest opposition parties and play a significant role in the ANC’s need to create coalitions to govern. Zuma told his fans at a recent rally, “I need to return so that I can fix things.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

South African Mogul Gus Attridge Profits $7.95M from Aspen Stocks

Mondi Withdraws $6.2 Billion Offer for UK Company