|Jacob Zuma, former vice president of South Africa.|
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (born 12 April 1942) is the President of South Africa, elected by parliament following his party’s victory in the 2009 general election.
Zuma is the President of the African National Congress (ANC), the governing political party, and was Deputy President of South Africa from 1999 to 2005. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ and his clan name Msholozi. Zuma became the President of the ANC on 18 December 2007 after defeating incumbent Thabo Mbeki at the ANC conference in Polokwane. He was re-elected as ANC leader at the ANC conference in Manguang on 18 December 2012, defeating challenger Kgalema Motlanthe by a large majority. Zuma was also a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), briefly serving on the party’s Politburo until he left the party in 1990. On 20 September 2008, Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation after being recalled by the African National Congress‘s National Executive Committee. The recall came after South African High Court Judge Christopher Nicholson ruled that Mbeki had improperly interfered with the operations of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption.
Zuma has faced significant legal challenges. He was charged with rape in 2005, but was acquitted. In addition, he fought a long legal battle over allegations of racketeering and corruption, resulting from his financial advisor Schabir Shaik‘s conviction for corruption and fraud. On 6 April 2009, the National Prosecuting Authority decided to drop the charges, citing political interference.
Zuma was born in Nkandla, Zululand (now part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal). His father was a policeman who died when Zuma was young, and his mother a domestic worker. He received no formal schooling. As a child, Zuma constantly moved between Zululand and the suburbs of Durban in the area of Umkhumbane (near Chesterville). He has two brothers, Michael and Joseph.
Imprisonment and ban
Zuma began engaging in politics at an early age and joined the African National Congress in 1959. He became an active member of Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1962, following the South African government’s banning of the ANC in 1961. Zuma joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1963. That year, he was arrested with a group of 45 recruits near Zeerust in the western Transvaal, currently part of the North West Province. Convicted of conspiring to overthrow the Apartheid government, a government led by white minorities, Zuma was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, which he served on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and other notable ANC leaders also imprisoned during this time. Whilst imprisoned, Zuma served as a referee for prisoners’ association football games, organised by the prisoners’ own governing body, Makana F.A.
After his release from prison, Zuma was instrumental in the re-establishment of ANC underground structures in the Natal province.
Zuma first left South Africa in 1975 and met Thabo Mbeki in Swaziland, and proceeded to Mozambique, where he dealt with the arrival of thousands of exiles in the wake of the Soweto uprising.
Zuma became a member of the ANC National Executive Committee in 1977. He also served as Deputy Chief Representative of the ANC in Mozambique, a post he occupied until the signing of the Nkomati Accord between the Mozambican and South African governments in 1984. After signing the Accord, he was appointed as Chief Representative of the ANC.
He served on the ANC’s political and military council when it was formed in the mid-1980s, and was elected to the politburo of the SACP on April 1989.
In January 1987, Zuma was again forced to leave a country, this time by the government of Mozambique. He moved to the ANC Head Office in Lusaka, Zambia, where he was appointed Head of Underground Structures and shortly thereafter Chief of the Intelligence Department.
Return from exile
Following the end of the ban on the ANC in February 1990, Zuma was one of the first ANC leaders to return to South Africa to begin the process of negotiations.
In 1990, he was elected Chairperson of the ANC for the Southern Natal region, and took a leading role in fighting political violence in the region between members of the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). He was elected the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC the next year, and in January 1994, he was nominated as the ANC candidate for the Premiership of KwaZulu Natal.
The IFP, led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, put particular emphasis on Zulu pride and political power during this period. In this context, Zuma’s Zulu heritage made his role especially important in the ANC’s efforts to end the violence, to emphasise the political (rather than tribal) roots of the violence, and to win the support of Zulu people in the region.
Rise to national leadership
Zuma had experience in national leadership, as he started serving in the National Executive committee of the ANC in 1977 when the party was still a liberation movement. By the time he became its president he had served the ANC for thirty years. After the 1994 general election, with the ANC becoming a governing party but having lost KwaZulu-Natal province to the IFP, he was appointed as Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) of Economic Affairs and Tourism for the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, after stepping aside to allow Thabo Mbeki to run unopposed for deputy presidency. In December 1994, he was elected National Chairperson of the ANC and chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, and was re-elected to the latter position in 1996. He was elected Deputy President of the ANC at the National Conference held at Mafikeng in December 1997 and consequently appointed executive Deputy President of South Africa in June 1999.
During this time, he also worked in Kampala, Uganda, as facilitator of the Burundi peace process, along with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni chairs the Great Lakes Regional Initiative, a grouping of regional presidents overseeing the peace process in Burundi, where several armed Hutu groups took up arms in 1993 against a government and army dominated by the Tutsi minority that they claimed had assassinated the first president elected from the Hutu majority.
On 14 June 2005, President Thabo Mbeki removed Zuma from his post as Deputy President due to allegations of corruption and fraud related to the $5-billion weapons acquisition deal by the South African government in 1999. Zuma’s successor as Deputy President of South Africa was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the wife of Bulelani Ngcuka. Mlambo-Ngcuka had been Minister of Minerals and Energy since 1999. While her appointment was widely welcomed by the business community, she was booed publicly at many ANC rallies by pitied Zuma supporters between the time corruption charges had been filed but before rape charges were made with the first booing taking place in
UtrechtZuma and Zimbabwe
The African National Congress, of which Zuma is now president, historically has considered the ZANU-PF party a natural ally, born out of mutual struggle against white oppression. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has never publicly criticised Mugabe’s policies – preferring “quiet diplomacy” rather than “megaphone diplomacy”, his term for the harsh Western condemnations of Mugabe’s leadership. However, the left of the party and extra-party organisations such as the ANC Youth League, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have advocated for a tougher stance on Zimbabwe. It is from these organisations that Zuma derives his support.
Zuma’s stance on Zimbabwe has been mixed. In a 2006 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, he expressed more sympathetic sentiments towards Mugabe, saying that “Europeans often ignore the fact that Mugabe is very popular among Africans. In their eyes, he has given blacks their country back after centuries of colonialism.” He continued: “The people love him, so how can we condemn him? Many in Africa believe that there is a racist aspect to European and American criticism of Mugabe. Millions of blacks died in Angola, the Republic of Congo and Rwanda. A few whites lost their lives in Zimbabwe, unfortunately, and already the West is bent out of shape.”
However, by December 2007, he was more forthright in criticising Zimbabwe’s leadership, increasingly defining his own policy in contrast to that of Mbeki:
It is even more tragic that other world leaders who witness repression pretend it is not happening, or is exaggerated. When history eventually deals with the dictators, those who stood by and watched should also bear the consequences. A shameful quality of the modern world is to turn away from injustice and ignore the hardships of others.
Following the disputed elections in Zimbabwe on 29 March 2008, he became critical of the election process in Zimbabwe referring to delays in the outcome as “suspicious”. In a press conference on 24 June, he asserted: “We cannot agree with ZANU-PF. We cannot agree with them on values. We fought for the right of people to vote, we fought for democracy.” At an ANC dinner in July, he rebuked Mugabe for refusing to step down.[108.