One of these days, people all over the world will stop giving self-serving, greed infected “leaders” a pass out of nostalgia. We have a tendency to complain about the quality of people in office in this country but conveniently seem to forget we elect them. If South Africans reelect Mr. Zuma after all the revelations about his abuse of funds and what many consider his elitist detached attitude toward the masses still seeking justice from the ravages of apartheid, we don’t know what to say.
We understand the ANC once was a shining symbol of the struggle against apartheid and a hope for a better future but Nelson Mandela has transitioned and reconciliation, compassion and rebuilding no longer seem to be on the current ANC leadership’s agenda. At least, that’s the way we see it from afar. As in the U.S. and other places in the world, however, established “mainstream” political parties and incumbents—no matter how dramatic their failures—typically hold the edge. It seems to be our nature to vote for folks who promise us good times, never deliver, yet make us feel good about a non-existent utopian future. Perhaps the semi-comatose state of complacency feels better than the sometimes prickly ordeal of working hard and making sacrifices for real change.
A.N.C.’s Stature Wanes as Disenchantment Grows in South Africa
By ALAN COWELLAPRIL 22, 2014
SEEKING A SECOND TERM President Jacob G. Zuma before a Good Friday service at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. Credit Marco Longari/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
PRETORIA, South Africa — Isaac Ramaifo works as a functionary in the Union Buildings, the seat of state power here, and is a member of the governing African National Congress. But as South Africa approaches watershed elections next month, he, like many, is torn between an instinctive loyalty to the party that has ruled for the 20 years since the end of apartheid and worries about its ability to deliver prosperity.
“I’m not satisfied” with the way things have turned out, he said. “But the A.N.C. is my party, my family. I cannot go against my father and mother.”
The remarks speak directly to a paradox of the vote on May 7, in which President Jacob G. Zuma is seeking a second term — his last permitted by the Constitution.
Many South Africans voice anger with him and his government over numerous issues, including high-level corruption and the failure to create jobs or provide the most basic services in gritty townships and other poor areas. When Mr. Zuma visited Malamulele in the northern Limpopo Province on Wednesday, residents jeered him as he promised to attend to their grievances, reviving memories of the boos he received at a memorial for Nelson Mandela in Soweto last December.
In Malamulele, schoolchildren ran after his motorcade shouting “Zuma sucks,” according to South African reporters at the scene.
Yet as head of the A.N.C., founded almost 102 years ago to fight for majority rights, Mr. Zuma draws enormous loyalty and political benefits. There are few if any political analysts who expect anything but a victory for him and the party in the election, in which the government faces an increasingly splintered opposition.
Still, many also expect that once Mr. Zuma is re-elected — possibly with a lower margin than the A.N.C. is accustomed to — the party will be forced into realignments reflecting a new era.
“This will be the last election in which the majority will be voting with their heart rather than their head,” said Jakkie Cilliers, head of the Institute for Security Studies, a research organization here. “It is the start of a sea change and the start of a normalization of South African politics.”