Jacob Zuma will go down as probably the worst President in South Africa’s post Apartheid order. That’s the view of South African expat Sean Jacobs, who is a Professor in International Relations at The New School University in New York. Jacobs, who is also the founder and editor of popular blog “Africa is a Country”, believes that while Americans are largely preoccupied with their own President and domestic politics, some sectors of United States society have kept an eye on developments in South Africa and that sentiment is leaning heavily in favour of seeing Cyril Ramaphosa at the helm.
Sean Jacobs keeps a close eye on developments in Africa, particularly his native South Africa. His successful blog ‘Africa is a Country’ has become an important platform for media criticism, analysis and political debate.
“Jacob Zuma in history is going to gonna down as probably, and I say this with caution, I think he’ll go down as probably the worst president of South Africa’s post Apartheid order where you’ve had Mandela as the kind of person who united South Africa, whatever again you think of the terms of that unity. And Thabo Mbeki who business elites loved but who was very bad on HIV and his policies did not do much for poor South Africans. So the sense was that Jacob Zuma would come, he would undo most of those policies that had negative effects on poor South Africans but instead, what people have experienced is rampant corruption, cronyism.”
And while surprising to those living in South Africa, the ongoing transition is not big news in the USA.
“News in America is very local but I would imagine among media and policy elites and people who care about SA and I think they care about SA in the sense that the Jacob Zuma regime, nearly ten years of it would be characterized with instability, there’s too many changes, firing and hiring of people and if you’re the United States, which is a superpower looking for a partner that is stable and South Africa is considered one of the most important political and economic powers on the continent and Jacob Zuma’s government or his regime did not exude that kind of confidence. So I would imagine they would want somebody doing that for them, somebody who can work both in their interests and South Africa’s interests and I could see them seeing Cyril Ramaphosa as somebody who could do that.”
With television news in the US predominantly focused on President Donald Trump, publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post and international titles like the Economist and Financial Times have been outspoken in their desire to see President Zuma leave office. Jacob’s believes the international sentiment is clear.
“Yesterday I dropped my kid off at school and a Jamaican friend of mine shouted from his car, hey what’s going on with your country and what’s up with your President, what’s up with Zuma. So for most people here, that’s how they’re going to remember Zuma. They’re not going to remember him as a figure of the struggle, Robben Island, his early attempts to bring peace in KZN between the IFP and certain factions of the ANC. Right now they’re just going to remember him as the person who brought down a liberation movement and whose regime was associated with corruption and instability.”
And with nothing certain, all eyes focused on what could transpire in the days ahead