For 10 years until Valentine’s Day this year the ANC had a leader who despised education (remember his accusations of “clever blacks”), who discarded the party’s key intellectuals and who, right from the onset, flirted with populism at the expense of evidence-based policy-making.

Jacob Zuma’s greatest gift to the party of Pixley kaIsaka Seme and John Dube was to drag it down to a breathtakingly fact-free policy-making process.

In his rush for votes and to please the adoring crowds outside his numerous court appearances, Zuma fully embraced populist rhetoric, thoughtlessly uttering racist, homophobic and sexist slogans while failing to come up with a single coherent idea about raising economic growth, denting unemployment and throttling the rise of poverty and inequality.

Zuma’s gift to policy-making was victimhood. Poor economic growth? Blame the global economic meltdown. Rising unemployment? Blame business. Poor education outcomes? It’s because we are not being judged scientifically by the rest of the world. Rising crime? It’s because of the human rights culture embedded in our Constitution.

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