Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, rose to power following his party’s victory in 2009, and was recently reelected in the 2014 elections. President Zuma is no stranger to controversy. In 2005 he was charged with rape, but was quickly acquitted. He has also battled legal allegations of racketeering and corruption. His main adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of corruption and fraud, but in April 2009, the charges were dropped due to “political interference”.
History of the President
President Zuma, born in the uThungulu district, Nkandla, started his politcal career at an early age. In 1962, he became a member of the Umkhonto we Sizwe following the ban of the ANC in 1961. Zuma was arrested and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in 1963 for his participation in conspiring to overthrow the aparthied government. Once released, he fled South Africa and began to work in Switzerland helping thousands of exiles in the wake of the Soweto uprising.
After years in exile, Jacob Zuma returned to South Africa in 1990. Elected as the Chairperson of the ANC for the southern natal region, Mr. Zuma played a crucial role in fighting political violence in the region between the ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party.
On-Going Corruption and Family Ties
After his formal election in 2009, President Zuma still faced major criticism for his invovlement and assocation with Schabir Shaik. Combined with his ongoing personal legal allegations of rape, corruption, and money laundering, the charges were ultimately delcared unlawful. The decision based on “procedural grounds in that the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (“NDPP”) did not give Zuma a chance to make representations before deciding to charge him (this is a requirement of the South Africa Constitution), and directed the state to pay legal costs.”
Recently, in his second term, President Zuma is facing another political scandal with his ties to the Gupta family. The family, notorious for their controversial relationship with the president is a family empire that spans computer equipment, media, and mining. In early 2016, President Zuma faced another political upheaval with regards to the influence of the Gupta family and their ability to influence appointments over the South African Government.
The Gupta influence is not limited to the political cabinet, and with a strong hand in the the media outlet, many view the friendly coverage Zuma receives by the networks, owned by the family, as a direct relationship to his involvment.
In more recent news, President Zuma denied the allegations that he allowed the weathly Gupta family hand out posts in his cabinet, futhering the growing debate of curruption that threatens his political career. Recently the country’s deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, came forward and said in a public statement that members of the Gupta family had offered him the a position in the post after the incumbent, Nhlanhla Nene, was abruptly sacked.
Mr. Jonas is not the only politician to be approached by the Guptas offering top jobs in South Africa. Vytjie Mentor, Former ANC member of parliament, said in a posting on Facebook that she was offered a post of minister of public while visiting the Gupta mansion in 2010. In recent news, Vytjie Mentor has called for a probe into the Gupta-President.
Official Allegations of President Jacob Zuma
- Conspiring to Overthrow the Government – 1993
- Rape – 2005
- Racketeering and Corruption – 2009
Despite the on-going allegations, current questionable family ties, and history of Zuma’s life, he continues to gain momentum and support. Known for his ability to draw huge crowds, his support among the elements party, and his loyal followers, President Zuma continues to be a major player and powerful political figure. So is President Zuma practicing smart business practices by leveraging his position and relationships, or is he abusing his position of power to fulfill his own personal agenda?