Did we let go of Zuma rather too soon?


All these years I was lambasted and ridiculed for my unconditional support for ex-president Jacob Zuma.

May be today I need to clear the air. My support for him was not for an individual but it was for him in his capacity as the President of the Republic of South Africa as well as the posture he’d taken in matters of global affairs, especially economics.

Basically, I was not bothered whether he was ANC or not. I did not care what allegations were leveled against him, particularly all the things he was said to be doing or had done. That was none of my business.

Going by the name of investors, international community, advanced economies, World Economic Forum, rating agencies, Brettonwoods, financiers or lenders, multinational companies, etc. are known as the ‘invisible men’ who drive global politics, economics and culture. Basically, they are concerned with maintaining balance of power in the world in terms of advancing the interests of the ‘core’ [first world], semi-periphery [outposts of the first world] and the periphery [third world, or the toilet of the world].

The powers of the world have a number of tools at their disposal to take care of anyone, anything that can possibly interfere with their tight hold over the world. That is from subtle things like education and media to much more serious inventions such as politics and economics. These are true owners of state capture. They control states with a remote from Davos, London and Washington. And states fight very hard to be in the circle.

The end game is about creating an unequal world that will always serve the interests of the global bullies. Anup Shah of the US-based Global Issues explains, “One of the many things that the powerful nations (through the IMF, World Bank, etc.) prescribe is that the developing nation should open up to allow more imports in and export more of their commodities.“ This is exactly what contributes to poverty and dependency. And that also explains why many states in Africa are dependent on a single-commodity for their survival, other than from donor funds.

As a structuralist in political and economic thought, I always knew how difficult it is to dismantle and or even challenge the power of global forces. These forces have a tight grip over our countries. And our internal politics is as good as long it continues to serve their interests. Local political and economic actors provide an agency service to the ‘invisible men’ who run the world. In short, local politics is an extension of global politics, and the same goes for economics.

Anything that is not sanctioned or approved by the ‘invisible men’ of world politics and economics means someone’s head will be bludgeoned. So, every leader who steps up to lead a developing country (semi-periphery and periphery) knows this hard reality. But there are few exceptions who decided to look at these ‘invisible men’ in the eye and defy them.

Those who dare show a dirty middle finger get punished: Patrice Lumumba (DRC), Hugo Chaves (Venezuela), Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso), etc. Other get removed from power and or face jail sentences resulting from spurious corruption charges like Lula in Brazil. I’d argue without fear or favour that Msholozi has joined these unfavored men of global politics. But it seems Zuma understood the game better than many of us, and this irked his opponents and local agents of ‘invisible men’.

As a result, my sense is that Zuma understood that in order to deal with the hard issues facing South Africa after 1994, he had to carefully choose his friends who were going to help him to face the wrath of the ‘invisible men’. In this regard, he elected to go with China and Russia as well as the entire NAM fraternity, especially those who distated the manner the global economic/ political system operated. He had to do this while maintaining a solid grip over the ANC, otherwise he wouldn’t have lasted for a long time.

Perfect or not, that is the route Zuma appeared to have taken. There was a need to defy Britain and its allies to perform land reform, fix the structure of the economy, take power power back from mining companies, and sort out issues of monetary policy by nationalizing the Reserve Bank. That position informed the resolutions the ANC took at its 2017 elective conference in Nasrec.

As I said it was not going to be an easy journey. Others who were thinking like him, e.g. Argentina and Brazil, were forced out of power to allow the global bullies to run those countries again. Of late, Evo Morales was bumped out of power under very interesting circumstances. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela are under extreme pressure due to West-sponsored sanctions. China faces what could be a biological warfare, this is yet to be confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt.

I feel in Zuma we had someone who had taken as close as possible to attaining a likely feat of rebelling against global powers. All this time I knew that the backlash would be serious but I kept faith until the end. He was forced out of his position in early 2018 in what has been trivialized as part of ANC factional politics. Anyone who understands how the ‘invisible men’ have conducted their business since the toppling of Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s will appreciate how they deal with what they consider despotic behavior.

With the ANC dillydallying on land and SARB ownership, I hope it is becoming clearer why Zuma’s unconventional approach to politics and economics could have been the best for South Africa. As lurid as this sounds, I bet my last cent that the structural issues in the economy will not be resolved through feeble parliamentary processes. The ANC will do nothing to “expropriate land without compensation” or to nationalize the SARB. The process for amending s25 of the constitution isn’t enough but it has also been grossly sanitized.

Global forces are here to take care of things.

The shenanigans in state owned enterprises is a replay of a movie that countries like Ghana, Chile, Mexico, etc. Bad economic growth, high unemployment and growing poverty are designed to make sure that all sundry knows who is in charge. The master has power to pull the plug at any time, and many people will feel the pain and cower in fear. Political consciousness is replaced by salary, big mansion and conspicuous consumption. Nobody would dare challenge the ongoing mind rape using the economy and politics. For example, the outrage about FW de Klerk and SOEs will remain confined in social media.

All the energy wasted on Zuma while the status quo of the two economies stays intact. Whether Zuma did exactly as claimed in this article or not, it is neither here nor there. His emergence in the South African political scene opened doors for many people to question how things are done. Whether this was accidental or not, Zuma takes part of the credit together with many others who set the nation on a “woke” path. As things stand now, so many people understand national discourses that were previously considered a terrain of a selected few.

I therefore infer that the Zuma years may be considered as “the nine wasted years” in some quarters but South Africans, particularly blacks, have gained immensely from what our national politics exposed them to. Zuma may have chosen to keep the lid closed like his predecessors for the sake of manufactured stability and fake progress. But he didn’t, we thank him for that. Even those who still view him as a criminal acknowledge that Zuma brought some dynamism in our national body politic.

What is becoming clearer to all of us that the occurrence of what Thabo Mbeki characterized as “two nations” will not end using conventional approaches. Speaking at a Black Management Forum (BMF) conference in 2003, former president Thabo Mbeki classified South Africa as a nation with “two economies and two storeys without a linking staircase.” Tensions between the two nations will continue to exist for as long as those in the lower house idolize the white-led economy with all its ill-intentions. We have swapped Msholozi for the likes of FW de Klerk and other men of the bad verse. This shows how long the road ahead of us is becoming.

Zuma is reportedly unwell but some are interested to see him dead. Imprisonment is just a sideshow and diversion to ‘monsterize’ him for as long as he still alive. After all has failed from poisoning him to big lies, one day the future will judge us harshly.

The ominous absence of the beaming voice that sang ‘Awu Leth’ Umshini Wami’ with aplomb is missed in both ANC and other events. My view though is that Msholozi could have build a cohort of young smart and strong leaders that were ready to fight the bigger war. Pity that many young ones chose to hide behind the ‘clever black’ tag. They allowed misinformation propaganda to take over their heads instead of trying to understand what he was saying.

If you asked them today what is happening with them these days, they are completely lost in the present maze of confusion. Many are losing their jobs in SOEs and elsewhere, they don’t know what has struck them. But we constantly look for answers something big is likely to happen.

Also, what we don’t realise that should Jacob Zuma die now, he can easily become a political symbol or doyen of sorts… Perhaps one day we will get a man or woman who’d be strong enough to show the ‘invisible men’ a middle finger.

We may appear down to be out, but we know that we are only regaining strength! (Ukehlehla kwenkunzi akusho ukuthi iyabaleka kodwa ithatha amandla).

Mina ngithi, Khawuleza, Sheshisa bo!