When President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma first took office in May 2009 our country was in complete disarray. The ANC had just come out of a brutal infighting which saw the country’s ex-president Thabo Mbeki replaced temporarily by the party’s deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe who himself exited without saying “bye-bye folks”. The fact that President Zuma didn’t have any formal educational training was a topical issue amongst intellectuals, especially our white brothers and sisters. South Africa was losing thousands of jobs and morale was very low across the nation.
Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s first democratically elected black president then came the British educated Thabo Mbeki, but Jacob Zuma is a different breed. We all know what makes him distinctive, controversial and special. But what if Jacob Zuma were a white president?
From my awkward perspective I feel if president Zuma were a white president:
If Zuma were a white president he wouldn’t build his Nkandla homestead using R256million of tax-payers money: Sad to say it, most black politicians and businesspeople are very flamboyant and excessive when it comes to their homes, cars and clothes, sometimes at the expense of the tax payer. A white president would have far less needs and exotic spending. Maybe a beach front home in Cape Town, a safari lodge in Limpopo, a fat bank account and numerous business investments with JSE listed companies. That’s fine though because black and white have different and distinctive political, social and cultural history and perspective. Why then should we expect Zuma to build his homestead with white tendencies? Okay, maybe he should pay back the money. But then, he’s a black president not a white president.
If Zuma were a white president he wouldn’t have four wives, girlfriends, and over 20 children: A white president will prefer monogamy over polygamy, but in secret he has a steady mistress (white people don’t call it girlfriend) he’s been seeing for the past 15 years. A white president would first get divorced before marrying another woman. But with Zuma, it comes with his cultural beliefs. Do you know what it means to be a true Zulu patriot? His marital and relationship history is not a shame on him, it is expected. I don’t see why we expect president Zuma to act all white with his marital life. But then, he is a black president not a white president.
If Zuma were a white president he wouldn’t allow corruption to be fashionable: Is president Zuma corrupt? I have no idea, maybe he is, but then no court in the land has found him guilty to that effect or in anyway. But from the numerous cases of some of his close cronies and political office holders, a lot of people around him consider corruption a fashion statement. If Zuma were a white president, maybe we wouldn’t see or hear about corruption in his government because it will be neatly hidden. But then, he’s a black president not a white president.
If Zuma were a white president he wouldn’t let Marikana become a tragedy: I wonder how many tragedies and massacres were experienced within the black community pre-1994. But honestly, maybe in a way, white people value human lives more than black people – did I hear you say HITLER? The Marikana tragedy was a total misrepresentation of the value we placed on human beings. But then, he’s a black president not a white president.
If Zuma were a white president he would’ve arrested Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president accused of genocide. Well, he didn’t arrest him, instead they wined, dined and laughed together. Isn’t that what brotherhood is all about? Zuma acted like any a “true” African brother. But if Zuma were a white president, al-Bashir wouldn’t even get to fly into South African airspace, and if he did, he would probably have joined Oscar Pistorius in prison before being extradited to the Hague. Would we then call that racism? Zuma chose to follow the African Union agreement. But then, he’s a black president not a white president.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not pro-Zuma nor pro-white, neither am I anti-Zuma or anti-white. I am only pro-justice and truth. As we wait for a white president, maybe in 100 years from now, let’s learn to live with a black president, Jacob Zuma for the time being.
So whether you’re a black, white or brown president, govern within your constitutional mandate.