William Saunderson-Meyer
William Saunderson-Meyer

A surprise honeymoon for the president

President Jacob Zuma is basking in a second honeymoon. To the much-married polygamist, such hedonism will be nothing unusual, but to Zuma the politician – widely excoriated for his failings – it brings welcome relief.

For it is the political commentators and analysts, not his line-up of winsome women, who are metaphorically cradling the president’s head in their laps. Following Zuma’s emphatic victory at Mangaung, where he trounced Kgalema Motlanthe, the Anyone But Zuma camp candidate for the presidency of the African National Congress, the prez is suddenly getting some good press. In some part this is no doubt influenced by the elevation of the highly respected Cyril Ramaphosa to his side.

The thinking goes something along the lines that Zuma has consolidated his power base and that last year’s disasters – especially the Marikana massacre, Nkandlagate, and the loss of international investor confidence – will enable the president to focus on national rather than party and personal matters. After all, Zuma has routed youth leader Julius Malema and his storm troopers for nationalisation, as well as decapitating the so-called Forces of Change, who had been determined that he would not lead the ANC into the 2014 election.

So within the ANC, nationalisation is suddenly a verboten word, tenderpreneurship is labelled an insidious evil, and the National Development Plan is the newest official blueprint. As a consequence, University of Cape Town politics professor Anthony Butler writes in Business Day that “Zuma’s second term might transcend his personal limitations”.

Steven Friedman, director of the Centre of the Study of Democracy, similarly believes that “circumstances have conspired to make this a year of potential” with a shift from internal ANC wrangling to a “watershed” emphasis on dialogue and building a social compact. He makes the point, often lost in the public clamour over Zuma’s personal failings, that South Africa’s present plight cannot, in any case, be fixed by a single individual.

Unexpected support for all this optimistic prognosticating came from the hard-nosed SA Institute of Race Relations'(SAIRR) Unit for Risk Analysis. It notes this week that “at no point since 1994 has the institute confronted more angst and pessimism about the future of the country”. Yet “in many respects we are more optimistic … than at any point in the past decade”.

The institute identifies two supposedly equally probable alternatives, labelled with the corny titles so favoured by scenario planners. There is a Long Dark Night (a continuation of failed ANC interventionist policies) or else the New Dawn (ANC reformists drive through “initially unpopular” NDP-style changes that in the long term assure the ANC’s future in power).

What is interesting is not so much the scenarios themselves, moulded as they are by the institute’s fervid commitment to unfettered markets, but the astute background analysis of the predicament. The fundamental problem, the institute argues, “is that government has done a great deal to increase the living standards of poor people but has no means, whether through education or labour market access, to allow those same people to continue climbing the living standards ladder”.

SAIRR takes comfort from “many” leaders in government, media and civil society now “admitting to this fact” and claims “much hard evidence” in favour of the upbeat scenario, citing especially a new government openness to compromise. “When that starts to happen it is only a matter of time before the government starts to compromise on more and more in an effort to retain stability,” writes Frans Cronje, deputy CEO of the institute.

All these shoots of optimism should warm Zuma’s heart. The institute concedes, however, that its own optimism hasn’t been shared by any of the corporate boards or the public to which it has presented its scenarios. So the honeymoon may be short lived. Fortunately for Zuma, this is something he is well accustomed to.

Tags: , , , , ,

  • The strange case of the disappearing president
  • Lost for words to describe Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
  • Protecting the dignity of politicians
  • Juju does Guy Fawkes?
  • 11 Responses to “A surprise honeymoon for the president”

    1. Honkie Tonk #

      A surprise divorce from the president would be even better news. :-)

      January 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    2. As far as I can see this post highlights the incompetence of our analysts including the “unfettered markets” Institute of Race Relations

      Where exactly do they think in history any country got rich on “unfettered markets”?

      Certainly not the Roman Empire, or the Arab Empire, or the British Empire, or the American Empire, or the now emerging Chinese Empire.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm
    3. ConCision #

      2nd Honeymoon for Zuma
      – but will he be able to keep it up?
      The Renewed Promises of the President
      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

      The president has proved it over and over
      He dances, talks drivel and doesn’t deliver
      He enriches himself, womanises and goes hither and thither
      There’ll be no change in the course of the river*.

      * the same river he’s already sold us down … remember?

      January 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm
    4. ConCision #

      To the moderator: The heading sent at 2.49 pm is the wrong way round.
      Forgive me – and happy new year. This is how it should read …

      The Renewed Promises of the President
      2nd Honeymoon for Zuma
      – but will he be able to keep it up?

      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

      The president has proved it over and over
      He dances, talks drivel and doesn’t deliver
      He enriches himself, womanises and goes hither and thither
      There’ll be no change in the course of the river*.

      * the same river he’s already sold us down … remember?

      January 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm
    5. Your repeated attempts at character assassination of President Zuma calling him hedonistic and demeaning the African tradition of polygamy, shows your mean spirited and brazen disrespect of African culture.

      Blaming President Zuma for the Maikana tragedy, fabricating corruption about Nkandla, and prostrating before corrupt rating agencies, to peddle the divisive DA politics, is shameful! However, as a washed out mainstream media hack for the Sunday Times, I suppose its all in a days work hey?

      January 20, 2013 at 9:07 am
    6. well, nothing surprise us any more. yes he is just harvesting unforbidden cos its very simple, he is above the laws of our country, and he clearly demonstrate I will do as I pleas, no one can touch me. Mr Zuma do you know there is a God above our heads, and that the Holy Spirit is amongst us. Its is time you humble yourself in front Of The Lord, cos u are the leader of the country and you are acting without any shame. I am only trying to help you and tell you u what is real, get in touch with your inner self and go into a room alone and pray cos you are destroying yourself and our country. Y ou have a problem, not sure what but you need serious help from a religious aspect-cos you off the rail as to speak. The country people must pray for your salvation and your. soul, i rest my case in front of the Almighty.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:52 am
    7. The Creator #

      Friedman is a paid propagandist for Zuma. (I know he was once a real academic, but that was decades ago.)

      Butler has been a stooge for Zuma in the past, and was hired to write Ramaphosa’s hagiography.

      Lyndall is spot-on about the Institute of Race Relations — they are neoliberal clowns who kiss the corporate boot.

      There is no surprise at all about this honeymoon for the President — the people who own the President also own the newspapers and the punditocracy. What’s surprising is that an intelligent cynic like Mr. Saunderson-Meyer is surprised.

      January 21, 2013 at 9:28 am
    8. Chaka Lemba #

      @ Dave Harris I am not ‘religiously’ inclined as Charles is. But to anyone with a shred of conscience, integrity or morality, a person like you should hang their head in shame. You encourage corruption at the highest level and the poor, which you pretend to protect, are left wondering what kind of evil you exude. You keep on with your lies and insults. Like Zuma, you do no good in this world or for this country. You encourage people to hate. Your self- glorification comes from wanting to be recognised as a ‘Someone’ on Thought Leader. Is that your contribution to the world?

      January 21, 2013 at 10:17 am
    9. Tofolux #

      I hope this serves as a lesson to all of those who engage in black-bashing. Also in this context let me remind you of a man who made a wonderful speech called “I had a dream” ie Martin Luther King. It must be said, despite all your shameful insults and baseless allegations, we shall overcome. Personally for me “fortune does favour the brave” and once again the brave shows us henceforth, to overcome is not a just a dream anymore.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm
    10. Just a Thought #

      Well it looks like that when ever a person has a point of view that isnt along the lines of “yay we love the ANC and non existant service delivery, the rampant crime and denialism” @tofulx and @dave harris come storming out of their trenches and scream blue murder, most of which sounds like and makes as much sense as Charlie Brown’s school teacher. I just love the irony that Dave accuses the author of bad mouthing JZ, but then loses all credibility by bad mouthing that same person. DUH.

      But I am getting tired of your generalistic responses. Person: Wow we are tired of the crime, rape and murder”. Dave harris: “Damn the DA for blah blah whatever. The association that a person has to be white and vote for the DA to criticise government makes both of you the rascists for bringing race and politics into it. This is a forum that should be debating issues of governance and what affects us daily. But dave and tofolux flush it straight down the toilet everytime. Your contributions are great [dripping with sarcasm]

      January 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm
    11. William, as I was reading, absorbing and taking it all seriously, then you come up with him being accustomed to short honeymoons. Still laughing….I love intelligent two pronged humor. Enjoy your writing sir, always well researched and humor friendly.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Leave a Reply

     characters available