Jacob Zuma. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Jacob Zuma. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

There are two kinds of political leaders in the world. 

There are those, like a substantial rump of our political elite, who have finessed the art of the “leader as victim”. Then there are those who look up to the likes of Nelson Mandela and Lee Kuan Yew and Sir Seretse Khama for inspiration and lead their populations to prosperity. 

The victim-leaders spend their days moaning about the injustices of the world and pointing fingers at those they blame for their misfortunes. They take responsibility for nothing. They do little that is positive, complaining instead about how they are being persecuted and how some never-identified global or local cabal is plotting against them. 

Jacob Zuma is such a leader. This perpetual victim has a truck full of people he blames for everything that happens under the sun. 

In his narrative, Zuma is responsible for nothing. If he has troubles, he wheels out a bagful of people or institutions to blame: the media, the Stellenbosch mafia, one or all of his wives, puppets of the old regime, puppets of the new regime, Cyril Ramaphosa, Thabo Mbeki, the West, the East, the judges. 

Everyone is to blame. When he is not pointing a finger, he is lying with a straight face: one day I will reveal who is an apartheid spy. One day I will reveal who betrayed Chris Hani. One day I will reveal who brought about my downfall. One day this and one day that. 

That day never comes. Never has a man been so blessed with so many opportunities to set the record straight. 

'We will put you in the presidency so you can show your mighty works and clear your name', says the ANC. 'Come to the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s court and clear your name', say the prosecutors. 

He does not use the opportunities. Instead, he fights the truth for a decade. 

'Come to the Zondo commission and clear your name', say the judges. He refuses. 

There isn’t a forum Zuma hasn’t been offered and there isn’t one he hasn’t tried to poison with his lies and innuendo. 

SA has a choice to make. Countries which elect and follow such leaders never succeed. They spend their days pointing at others, talking about how they are being held back by mysterious dark forces. They are forever in blame mode. 

Instead of educating their young people, such countries spend endless hours condemning others and bemoaning how they have been discriminated against. 

But watch what the leaders of these countries do the minute they are sick or need to send their own child to university. They take taxpayers’ money and fly straight to a hospital in London or Switzerland for medical care. 

Where did Zuma go when he was allegedly “poisoned”? He hopped on a jet to Russia. Meanwhile, one of his poor wives was arrested by the then “intelligence” minister, David Mahlobo, our own second-rate imitation of James Bond, on suspicion of poisoning him. 

The battle unfolding in SA right now is really between being some miserable enclave where leaders steal our money while pointing at numerous enemies internal and external — or being a positive, confident, winning country. 

If we choose Zuma and his acolytes, we will forever be moaning and pointing fingers while our judiciary, media, civil service, chapter nine institutions and others are stripped of their capacity and independence.

Zuma, his friend Ace Magashule and others know what they are doing. They are stealing a country while telling us we are jobless because of foreigners or white monopoly capital, and not because of the bankruptcy of their policies and the cluelessness of their implementation. 

It may be too late. Listen to the noise on social media in SA and you would be forgiven for thinking you are attending what one of my sisters calls “virtual pity parties”. 

Last Wednesday, for example, Zuma issued another one of his baseless conspiracy theories about a captured judiciary. You should have seen the reaction. People were praising him and congratulating him for making unsubstantiated allegations against the judiciary. 

On social media, Zuma has multiplied. This is not the fork in the road. We were well on the way down Zuma Street. We need to accelerate our walk away from the abyss. 

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