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Blame Poor South Africans’ Xenophobia on Jacob Zuma

Sat, 25 Apr 2015 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

That South Africa has seen waves of xenophobic and jingoistic attacks in recent weeks is as factual as the noonday sun. That foreigners on South African soil are both nervous and concerned about their collective safety cannot be overemphasized. That the Jacob Zuma-superintended administration has done little to stop the violence against foreign nationals is as lamentable as it is criminal. That the South African government’s rhetoric of restraint and containment has not matched the reality on the ground is as distasteful as it is astonishing. Undoubtedly, effective action is needed to stop the violence immediately if South Africans are to salvage what is left of their collective pride in a global community that has been critical of the South African government’s abysmal response to the xenophobic attacks on fellow Africans. But what, really, is the reason behind the foreigner-despising attacks?

I place the blame squarely at the door of Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s serial philandering, fiscally irresponsible president. A man known more by his dalliances than by any cerebral accomplishments, Zuma has received very expensive upgrades to his residence totaling approximately $23 million, an amount allegedly spent to increase security at the villa. This explanation has not won over vigilant watchdog organizations, however, as the huge expenditure was seen as nothing more than government money to make life more comfortable for Zuma and his four wives – Bongi, Thobeka, Nompumelelo, and Gertrude. Include other allegations of malfeasance attributed to the South African leader and the reader may wonder why Zuma runs the political wheel of South Africa. The thugs and hoodlums attacking foreigners should rather demonstrate in the streets against an ineffective Zuma-led administration that has failed to live up to expectation.

Zuma, accused of rape several years ago but later acquitted, has also admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock. So, how did Jacob Zuma, who, clearly, spends too much time canoodling with women and too little time thinking about South Africa’s manifold economic and social problems, become president of Africa’s most technologically advanced nation? A man known to have fathered more than 20 children, with each progeny possibly demanding a “piece” of her/his father’s time on a daily basis, Zuma most likely has little time to deal with pressing government business. So, why did South Africans get it so wrong?

Blame Zuma’s rise to power on a system that rewards membership of, and allegiance to, an organization that led the war against apartheid. Having been part of the struggle against White-minority rule, Zuma would spend time in prison for his justified revolts, but, in return, he got the chance to mingle with the then-bigwigs of the African National Congress (ANC), which led to his eventual rise to the helm of the nation’s affairs in 2009. Zuma’s re-election in 2014 was a foregone conclusion, as Zuma’s political party, the ANC, has an ironclad grip on the reins of power in the country. Indeed, the ANC has the sheer numbers to ride roughshod over all of its political competitors in the years to come. Obviously, whoever gets awarded the leadership of the ANC can be certain of attaining the presidency of South Africa, and this is the process that elected an undeserving Jacob Zuma as president.

I am truly heartbroken for the late Nelson Mandela, whose vision of a free and prosperous South Africa would force him to spend almost three decades of his best years in a rotten prison. Indeed, these xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, mostly fellow Black Africans, would never have occurred under the leadership of the great Mandela because South Africans revered him, not only because he was a true intellectual who foresaw South Africa’s freedom from White oppression long before it actually happened, but because he preached tolerance in the truest sense of the word. Mandela’s singular act of preaching unity after he became president in 1994 prevented reprisal attacks on Whites and White-owned businesses in South Africa. That, dear reader, is leadership at its best.

Under normal circumstances, it would be inconceivable to expect a Black man to attack another Black man on African soil over the unavailability of jobs. However, Jacob Zuma’s visionless leadership has seen South Africa’s unemployment rate rise to a whopping 25%! How can a nation that is blessed with so much human potential, so much knowledge, and so many natural resources grapple with such an unprecedented unemployment rate? If, indeed, Zuma were a good leader (the term “great” should be reserved for the likes of Mandela and Nkrumah), he would have girded his loins and worked hard on behalf of the South African people from the very first day he assumed political office. In other words, the secret to civility and political stability is economic stability, and I am not sure that Zuma gets it. Sadly, Zuma will, someday, be added to a long list of clueless and uncaring African leaders who left their countries’ economies in worse shape than when they came to office.

Jacob Zuma is no maven in the haven known as South Africa, and I encourage the South African leader to bring the current unrest to a quick end or step down. It is utterly embarrassing that Black Africans will attack and kill fellow Black Africans on African soil, not because one group has raided and taken captive the wives of the other group, but because one group believes that the other has “stolen” all the available jobs that should naturally go to its members. This incident is a slap in the face of African solidarity, and I call on the African Union to hold an emergency meeting to solve this problem. I also call on African nation-states to temporarily expel South Africa’s ambassadors serving in their respective countries until this shameful chapter in Africa’s history is permanently resolved.

© Daniel K. Pryce, Ph.D., is a criminologist by profession. He can be reached at GoodGovernanceinGhana@hotmail.com. He may be followed on Twitter: @DanielKPryce. He invites the reader to join the pressure group “Good Governance in Ghana” on Facebook.com. “Good Governance in Ghana” is a group that emphasizes the preservation of democracy, justice, equity, and law and order in Ghana; its 395-plus members are all permitted to start discussions that promote the national interest.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.