Most African countries were flung together by former colonial powers out of diverse ethnic, religious and regional communities, making them among the most diverse nations on earth. The colonial powers exploited these differences to play off communities against each other and so reinforce their control over subject peoples. Sadly, in the postcolonial period, many African leaders and governments have sought support from only their own ethnic communities, regions or religious groups, further entrenching divisions inherited from the colonial past. Apparently President Jacob Zuma is no different. After his return from exile, Zuma, an isiZulu speaker, built his support base in the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, the party’s region with the largest membership. When he was fired in 2005 as deputy president by former president Thabo Mbeki for alleged corruption, he wooed isiZulu speakers to secure his reinstatement. In 2007, at the party’s Polokwane conference, he used his Zulu background to win the A...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as articles from our international business news partners; ProfileData financial data; and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now