There are just a handful African Presidents whose names rings much bell and cannot be overlooked, one of such is the South African President, Jacob Zuma.
Zuma stands as one of the most controversial presidents South Africa ever had since the demise of white minority era in 1994 with his name always being mentioned in sensitive issues in the country, not just because of his status as the president of the republic of South Africa, but also because of several scandalous issues he entangled himself in.
The April 12, 1942-born Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is a native of Nkandla, Natal Province (now part of the province of Kwazulu-Natal), and was elected president of south Africa in 2009 under the umbrella of the ruling African national Congress (ANC) – a party he joined at his early years in 1959 and had since been dedicated to.
Zuma was influenced to join the party by a trade unionist family member as the party stood out against the country’s practice of apartheid and other discriminatory policies in the late 1950s.
Born into a poor home, Zuma got himself involved in political dealings without having any formal schooling. First with the fights against the apartheid government, followed by fights against other discriminatory policies. Since then, he has been embroiled in a series of scandals associated with corruption and racketeering.
Zuma served as deputy president of South Africa from 1999 to 2005. He was appointed by Thabo Mbeki after Mbeki won the presidency. Prior to this time, he has played key roles in the political development of the country. In 1994 when Mandela was elected president of South Africa, Zuma was appointed national chairperson of the ANC, chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, and member of the Executive Committee of Economic Affairs and Tourism for the KwaZulu-Natal. He also ran an unsuccessful campaign for the premiership of the KwaZulu-Natal region.
Zuma became the President of the African National Congress (ANC) on 18 December 2007 after defeating incumbent Thabo Mbeki at the ANC conference in Polokwane. Four years later (December 18 2012) he was re-elected as the party’s leader at the conference in Mangaung defeating his opponent Kgalema Motlanthe by a large majority of the votes.
Though he is widely credited for increasing the peace and stability of the region and for building stronger ties between the ANC and the IFP, Zuma has also come under huge criticism for dividing his time between ANC party issues and KwaZulu-Natal practical issues. Thus having a Zuma news all the time couldn’t be new at all.
President Jacob Zuma has had his rough and sweet times as one of the South African presidents history will never forget in a hurry. His most critical period will be centered around the past few years till now when he has been placed on hot seat following several demeaning allegations levied against him.
Zuma has been criticized for being the brain behind the economic woes of the country. First by firing the former finance minister Nhlanhla Musa Nene who was widely perceived as the bedrock for South Africa’s economic Growth and a watchdog for Zuma’s excessive and corrupt spending.
This singular perceived mistake further widened the door for criticisms from all angles. Ever since then president Jacob Zuma has been roped in series of other issues. They include the arms deal has haunted him for 15 years. The Pretoria high considered whether to pursue President Jacob Zuma on corruption charges relating to the arms deal – charges that can carry serious jail time.
Next was the issue with his homestead in Nkandla, in northern KwaZulu-Natal where the president was accused of abridging the state’s law by not upholding the Public Protector’s order that he unduly benefited from these improvements. This controversy is sometimes referred to as Nkandlagate. As usual, Zuma apologized for using public money to fund his private residence and in April 2016 he was asked to resign by a prominent number of the South African public.
Barely months after escaping impeachment, President Zuma got himself roped in yet another corruption case popularly referred to as State Capture. This started when Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas dropped a bombshell – that he was offered the top job in the department, and with it the control of the National Treasury, by a group of private citizens called the Guptas.
Few other political leaders followed suit as they all claimed to be offered ministerial appointment by the influential family. Though this case has lingered on as the public protector investigates the matter, there are tendencies that the president will survive yet another impeachment.
Jacob Zuma is a polygamist who has been married six times.
The 73-year-old is a proud follower of a Zulu tradition and currently has four wives namely Bongi Ngema (married in 2012), Thobeka Stacy Mabhija (married 2010), Nompumelelo Ntuli (Married in 2008), and Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo Zuma (1973).
President Jacob Zuma is also known for his infidelity and reportedly has more than 20 children.