Jacob Zuma: The fable of the jackal and the wolf

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Oct 7th, 2012
1 Comment
Olwethu Sipuka on why the ANC president should not make it through to a second term


JZ – Through the eye of the needle

Having grown up in Mdantsane in the 1980’s, I am part of a generation that grew up listening to stories such as the jackal and wolf which were told to us almost every night. The ANC document “Through the eye of the needle” (ANC, 2001) particularly reminds me of the story when the jackal and the wolf went to steal the famer’s sheep.

They entered the farm through a small hole in the famer’s fence and had to come out of it after having feasted with the sheep. The jackal feasted in drips and drabs, constantly checking if he will still be able to fit in the hole should the time arise. The poor wolf simply could not stop eating and by sunrise when they had to go out, he simply was too big to fit in the whole. The farmer caught him.

Through the eye of the needle is an ANC discussion document that guides the ANC on the kind of leaders it requires. It sets parameters and puts minimum standards that should be met by a person before he or she assumes a leadership position in the ANC.

Once a person meets these parameters and standards, he or she can be deemed as fit to go through the eye of the needle. In the light of some provinces having already pronounced on their nomination of President Zuma for the position of ANC President at Mangaung; I will use this article (citing a few examples – off course many are available) to illustrate on how the President does not go through the eye of the needle.

The document amongst others prescribes;

A leader should constantly seek to improve his capacity to serve the people; he should strive to be in touch with the people all the time, listen to their views and learn from them. He should be accessible and flexible; and not arrogate to himself the status of being the source of all wisdom.

Pitted against President Mbeki pre-Polokwane; President Zuma was sold to us as a candidate that is in touch with the people and listens to them. How is a person who upgrades his home using taxpayers money for a reported R240 Million (M&G 5 October 2012) in touch with the people at all time? This is at the face of massive inequalities where millions are without houses. This upgrade alone could build an entire community with 4000 very decent RDP houses at R60 000 per house.

I am not saying the President must stay in a shack, but a house worth R15 Million simply borders on extravagance including for a President; especially who should be in touch with the people. This R240 Million upgrade simply creates a social distance between the President and the people and by default, between the Party and the people.

It is my view that listening alone as prescribed by the document should not be enough. Hearing should also be an important element and the key question would be; does President Zuma hear the daily cries of our people?

Through the eye of the needle goes further;

A leader should win the confidence of the people in her day-to-day work. Where the situation demands, she should be firm; and have the courage to explain and seek to convince others of the correctness of decisions taken by constitutional structures even if such decisions are unpopular. She should not seek to gain cheap popularity by avoiding difficult issues, making false promises or merely pandering to popular sentiment.

Ready to govern (ANC; 1992) states that;

We believe that education and training is a basic human right and that all individuals should have access to lifelong education and training, irrespective of race, class, gender, creed, age, sexual orientation and physical or mental disability. Furthermore, we believe that the right to education and training should be enshrined in a Bill of Rights which should establish principles and mechanisms to ensure that there is an enforceable and expanding minimum floor of entitlements for all.

President Zuma has correctly placed education as one of key pillars of his government. It is now October and literally the eve of learners writing their final year exams and yet we have some learners who have not received textbooks. In this regard the courts have granted three orders for the delivery of the books with two deadlines already not met. This constitutes contempt!

The department’s report paints an even obscure picture. Over 50% of their targets are not met, infrastructure budget to rid of mud schools could not be spent and yet no decisive action has been taken on the Department or against the Minister. A basic human right aimed at unbundling the apartheid legacy has not been delivered. How do you expect to win people’s confidence on your day-to-day work when you bereft them their basic human rights?

The Justice Department is equally littered with examples from the Scorpions, Adv. Simelane to Chief Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Lastly, through the eye of the needle states;

A leader should lead by example. He should be above reproach in his political and social conduct – as defined by our revolutionary morality. Through force of example, he should act as a role model to ANC members and non-members alike. Leading a life that reflects commitment to the strategic goals of the NDR includes not only being free of corrupt practices; it also means actively fighting against corruption.

I consider myself very young to get into the President’s personal or social conduct, I will not. The Presidents political and social conduct speaks for itself! His record on corruption is well documented. He, like the wolf simply would not fit in the hole. The President cannot go through the eye of the needle!

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