With all the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela, who became arguably the most important, if not the best President of South Africa - it occurred to me to look at the similarities and differences between this icon and our current Prez.
- Supporters of Nelson Mandela plunged South Africa into a 20 year border war in order to bring an end to the monstrosity called Apartheid - which at its core was a noble fight for liberty.
- Supporters of Jacob Zuma threatened to kill for him - as per ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema - in order to prevent him from going on trial to face corruption charges.
- Nelson Mandela inspired his supporters and even changed the minds of his former enemies and united the country as never before.
- Jacob Zuma inspires his supporters in the ANC and has done little more than be controversial and divisive and to embarrass South Africans before the world.
- Nelson Mandela said: "Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement", "There is no such thing as part freedom" and "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another" - and his rule was marked by it.
- Jacob Zuma said: "When I was growing up an ungqingili [a gay] would not have stood in front of me. I would knock him out", "same-sex marriages are a disgrace to the nation and to God" and encouraged faith-based bodies to engage the government on such existing same sex marriage legislation - and his rule so far is marked by homophobic slurs and tacit support for bigotry and homophobia.
- Nelson Mandela's trademark was colorful ethnic shirts and his smile.
- Jacob Zuma's trademark is his song "um'shini'wam" (Bring me my machine-gun).
- Nelson Mandela went to jail for 27 years, was released in 1990, went on to win an election and made a positive difference as President of South Africa, and is today regarded as a much respected world icon of freedom, equality, forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Jacob Zuma has been cleared of a rape charge, become infamous for his "HIV shower" gaffe, avoided going to trial for corruption charges, won an election - and as president, done little more than make excuses for his personal indiscretions as "a man".
- Under Nelson Mandela, South Africans had a president they could be proud of.
- Under Jacob Zuma, South Africans dread the next day's headlines to see what else our President has said, done or given approval to.
President Zuma will soon celebrate his first year in office and I wonder if at that time he will be able to report any actions on his part as President that have been done for the good of the country and not to excuse or justify his own immorality, prejudice, bigotry, polygamy, bigamy or infidelity.
I say this because his term so far seems primarily to have been all about HIM and not about actually making a positive difference to the country. He has been in the media a lot, denying things he said in Rhema about gay rights just before the Elections, denying that redeployment of cadres is a reward for supporting him (or that it undermines the independence of the judiciary or the underpinnings of the Constitution), affirming that lord of the gaffe - Julius Malema, as "a future leader" and undermining human rights, equality and the Constitution by assisting and giving approval to his "God Squad" - that "moral police" group run by his friend Ray McCauley, and which was recently reported in the Mail & Guardian as receiving logistical support from the ANC.
Has Zuma spoken out on any really important matters? Has he spoken out against he appalling human rights violations in Africa? Has he condemned the Ugandan government for their proposed new genocide bill to murder gay Ugandans? Funny though, he has not - but he has appointed Jon Qwelane - a homophobic hack-journalist still awaiting his turn at the Equality Court for hate speech charges - as SA Ambassador to that country.
Instead, I mostly hear him making excuses for clarifying what he meant to say as opposed to what he really said, for marrying multiple wives (and for cheating on them) - and now he has just been praised for owning up for making another woman pregnant out of wedlock and who has had his child. Is he going to marry her too? Is she going to be wife number six? Is this man in the President's Office just add to his harem and make excuses for his appalling behavior?
First sort your own sordid affairs out, Mr President, before you dare point fingers at other people and accuse them of being "immoral".