Monday February 19 2018

Jacob Zuma: The cheerful, dancing and controversial president

African National Congress (ANC) Deputy Secretar

African National Congress (ANC) Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta toast at Absa Stadium in East London, South Africa, during the ANC's 106th anniversary celebrations on January 13, 2018. The new head of South Africa's ruling ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, pledged on January 13, 2018 to "restore the credibility" of the party after a spate of graft scandals involving President Jacob Zuma. AFP photo  

By EDGAR R. BATTE

His Zulu name, Gedleyihlekisa, means the one who smiles while grinding his enemies.
“The man needs scandal like we all need oxygen. He has made a living off cronyism, corruption, money laundering and flouting the rules set for a President. The warning signs were there right from the very start. Jacob Zuma is no saint. Hell, calling him a sinner does not really cut it these days,” reads a preamble to a story carried on The South African, an online publication.
What can one make of a person like Jacob Zuma? He is a man whose career has been dogged with controversy yet he is as much notorious as he is charming. The BBC’s Andrew Harding describes him as a disarming, seemingly unlimited well of good humour, deployed to break the ice, lighten the mood and wrong-foot his opponents. On Wednesday, he resigned we delve into his lifestyle.

Zulu warrior
Zuma’s private life is as colourful as his political career. A proud traditionalist, he often swaps tailored suits for full leopard-pelt Zulu warrior gear, engaging in energetic ground-stomping tribal dances during ceremonies in his village.
At ANC rallies, he was often the first to break into tuneful song. In the past, he relished leading supporters in the rousing anti-apartheid struggle song “Umshini Wami” (Bring Me My Machine Gun), which became his signature tune.

The rape trial
Before taking office, Zuma headed the National Aids Council and Moral Regeneration Campaign whose trust and confidence he lost when he said that he did not have a condom on the night he allegedly indulged with an HIV/Aids infected woman. In his words to a SA court, he said that he had showered after having unprotected sex with the woman as a way of getting rid of the virus that spreads HIV/Aids. Zuma’s remarks were met with disdain and heat from activists who felt betrayed since they had worked hand-in-hand with him in preventive campaigns against the Aids scourge.
Instead, he insisted that it was the woman who had initiated the sexual encounter between them. During his trial in 2006, Zuma was supported by a raucous crowd shouting “burn the bitch” and “100% Zulu boy”. Inside the courthouse, he insisted he and Fezikile Khwezi, the woman in question had had consensual sex, and that he had behaved in accordance with his patriarchal Zulu culture when presented with a woman “at that state” - in other words, sexually aroused.
Zuma was acquitted of rape but is often mocked in newspaper cartoons and depicted with a shower nozzle sprouting from his bald head.

Family man and big spender
The teetotaller and non-smoker is a proud polygamist - the practice is legal, but controversial, in South Africa - and he currently has four wives. He has been married six times. Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo (married in 1973); Nompumelelo Ntuli (2008); Thobeka Madiba (2010); Gloria Bongi Ngema (2012). Ex-wives: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (married in 1972; divorced in 1998); Kate Mantsho (married in 1976 and died in 2000). Zuma has more than 20 children. In 2010, admitted he had fathered a child with the daughter of another old family friend, and subsequently apologised to the nation.
At the age of 75, the ex-president continues to boast of his ability “to win fine-looking women”. Zuma once said in a TV interview: “There are plenty of politicians who have mistresses and children that they hide so as to pretend they’re monogamous. I prefer to be open. I love my wives and I’m proud of my children.”
He came under fire after it was revealed that the state had spent 8.6m of tax payers’ money on new luxury cars for his wives. In 2016 alone, he spent over $230, 000 on cars said Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who attests that as many as 11 vehicles have come out of the police budget alone: 4 Range Rovers at $60,000 each, 2 Land Rover Discoverys at $40, 000, 2 Audi Q7s at $40, 000, 3 Audi A5s at $50, 000.
As justification for these purchases, the police minister claimed that the motor vehicles were used for “comprehensive protection of VIP spouses”.

Luxurious abode
On a green hillside in rural KwaZulu-Natal, in Nkandla, a cluster of well-thatched buildings emerges from the surrounding countryside. From a distance, it looks almost like a traditional African village, with round huts and an enclosure for the cattle nestling below the brow of the hill. If you approach the area on foot, you will quickly spot the high security fences and neatly paved roads, a swimming pool shaped like a spear tip, and a large amphitheatre surrounded by a maze of large buildings. In 2012, a grinning Zuma told parliament that he and his family had paid for all the lavish upgrades to his home. The “security upgrades” -cost some 246 million rand ($23m; £13.8m in 2014). On March 31, 2016, South Africa’s highest court ruled that Zuma had violated the constitution when he failed to repay government money spent on this private home. He later repaid the money.

The Gupta saga and more
Ireland’s Irish Times, quotes an investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in which Zuma was investigated for involvement in a cash transfer from the Guptas, a wealthy family of Indian origin that has been linked to some illegal dealings though he denied it.
Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw has made an exposé about President Zuma pointing out his alleged shady dealings. In an extract of his book titled The President’s Keeper, the South African journalist points out monthly payments of one million Rands Zuma received from a controversial tender, from mogul Roy Moodley, without declaring it to the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
“The President’s Keepers alleges that Zuma failed to pay any tax at all in his first five years in office, managing to go a whole presidential term without making any contribution to SARS. The VIP Tax Unit had to beg the President to start paying, fearing that public knowledge of the situation would create a backlash against their organisation,” the website reports.
Fake dealings
Pauw claims that more than R1 billion of taxpayers’ money was pissed away on a bent intelligence programme called the Principal Agent Network (PAN). The President’s Keeper alleges that the State Security Agency (SSA) splashed money on a department choked with corruption and wasteful expenditure. Pauw reveals that Zuma has failed to pay back multiple debts and loans.
“Whether it is for Nkandla, state capture, or the sheer cost to the taxpayer of his own legal fees, one thing is always asked of Jacob Zuma: Pay back the money. However, he never does, and he has good form for squirming his way out of paying back his fair share.”
A BBC World Service article lists dates that have dealt a blow to Zuma’s political career, all pointing at his undoing, first with June 14, the day on which the popular and charismatic deputy president of South Africa lost his job after being implicated in a corruption. On April 6, 2009, BBC reports that in his race for the presidency, prosecutors dropped the charges against him over the arms deal. South Africa’s chief prosecutor said phone-tap evidence suggested the 2007 charges had been politically motivated. The main opposition called it an “abuse” of the prosecutor’s role.

Court rules
On October 13, last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa ruled that the president must face 18 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to the 1999 arms deal. This came about because the opposition Democratic Alliance brought a case before a Pretoria court, demanding that the president faces charges. Zuma lodged an appeal, but lost it.
Five days before he could celebrate a decade in power, a Pretoria court ordered Zuma to set up a judicial inquiry into corruption claims against him and his associates, which he eventually did in January. Zuma is also still fighting a court order that could reinstate corruption charges against him over 783 alleged payments linked to a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.

His love for Uganda
Despite the controversy that clouds his career, Zuma has done Uganda some good, particularly for her tourism. At 2017 Indaba Travel Market show in Durban, he stunned international travellers and media by indulging it in a 10-minute talk on why they needed to come to Pearl of Africa. “Uganda. It is a beautiful country, evergreen and home to Lake Victoria. I don’t know why it was called Lake Victoria. I have been negotiating with my brother, President Museveni, to change it to the original.

At a glance
When Zuma was five years old, his father died and his mother was left on her own. As a result, Zuma was forced to help support his mother instead of going to school. He taught himself how to read and write Zulu in the bushes while the other children went to school. Nevertheless, he speaks French, Russian, Xhosa, Zulu, Portuguese and Swahili fluently.

ZUMA JUSTIFIES HIS LAVISH HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Feature: Swimming pool
Justification: To be used for fighting fires. Because most of the President’s houses have thatched roofs, it leaves them vulnerable to arson, and the nearest fire station is an hour and a half away. A special pump has been installed so the water can be used to extinguish any blaze.
Feature: Animal enclosure (kraal)
Justification: The original pen, or kraal, was built by Zuma and his family, but is inside a high security zone fitted with motion detectors. To stop the animals setting these off, it was necessary to move them further away. The original pen, or kraal, was kept for ‘spiritual reasons’ as it is used for rituals in traditional Zulu culture.
Feature: Chicken run
Justification: Security experts recommended building an enclosure for the chickens in order to stop them also activating sensor beams.
Feature: Visitors’ centre
Justification: Used as a meeting place for foreign Presidents and local dignitaries, and built on top of a security control room to offer protection and privacy to guests. Police say Zuma already has three at his other houses.
Feature: Amphitheatre
Justification: Will help prevent soil erosion and land slips during heavy rain, and will also help stop the ground from moving as heavy vehicles drive past on the nearby road. It will also serve as an assembly point for the family in case of fire.
-compiled from Dailymail.com

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