South Africa is said to be at crossroads, for lack of a better expression. This is due to what has been termed the Zuma years, which many of the President’s detractors consider to be the worst years of this country’s young democracy. Whereas there is no consensus on such a view, what is indisputable is that President Zuma’s tenure has exposed to us the facade that this democracy is and has been. On one side of the divide are those who claim that JZ has shown the limitations, blindspots and frailties of this democracy given how he is said to have either captured or paralysed key state institutions. This take reminds me of words of a friend of mine, who once argued that systems and institutions are not guarantors of democracies, they are mere enablers, whom if left at the hands of the vagaries of those in power, can be very dangerous.
For me, what the Zuma years have shown and taught me is that human beings, in pursuit of their subjective ends can and will subvert and undermine key democratic principles they’ve sworn to abide by and uphold. Jacob Zuma detractors have throughout his tenure and more so in the last two years, gone out of their way to unconstitutionally unseat him, going as far as trying to get the courts encroach the separation of powers doctrine, if only they may remove the church. From a deliberately bias media reporting on the current administration, court applications to law experts distorting the key principle of innocent until proven guilty. The latter being demonstrated by a well revered constitutional law expert’s piece saying the public has no moral obligation to regard any public representative accused of wrongdoing, as innocent until proven guilty. That instead, they should charge them as guilty through the court of public opinion, even if this opinion has been shaped and arrived at through the use of biased media manipulation and persuasion.
What Jacob Zuma’s detractors seem to miss or oblivious to is how their conduct not only undermines democracy but sets a precedent that’ll be hard to stop. The great G.K Chesterton once remarked: “Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church.” And this observation is evident in the current SA politics of power contestation, where those who want to remove JZ are willing to fling away the same principle they swear they’re removing him in their name. The constitutionalists are hellbent on wrecking the last semblance of constitutional legitimacy this colonial cesspool seems to have. With democrats like this, who needs the Guptas?