The prospect of a President Jacob Zuma is a worrying one, not just for many South Africans but for the markets as well. His small victories drive the market down and strike fear and consternation into the hearts of a great many South Africans. His views are controversial (consider his recent bout of gay-bashing) and the majority of South Africans would see him jailed if only he were convicted on corruption charges. I won’t even start in on his militant attitude and blatant pandering to the uneducated majority of the population. Lastly there is also the likelihood that a President Zuma would be beholden to Cosatu and this could lead to instability and a more unfavourable South African marketplace. At that point a news item reporting on Presidents Zuma and Mugabe calling each other ‘comrades’ wouldn’t be surprising.
Notwithstanding Zuma’s public statements that there is no presidential race and that he is content to serve in whatever capacity the ANC deems appropriate, it is clear to the rest of us that this is the beginning of a bid for the top job, starting with a build up of grassroots level support as well as political support from the unions and likely even the ANC Youth League. There is an interesting analysis of Zuma as a potential president in IOL and while it is not a certainty that a President Zuma would be an utter disaster, it does seem likely to be a negative thing for the country, to say the least.
When you consider the controversy this man has inspired, the charges levied against him and the effect the prospect of Zuma as president has had on our currency alone, I believe Zuma should withdraw from any plan to become president. What this country needs is intelligent and diligent leadership, not leadership that panders to the uneducated masses to their detriment in the medium term. It is bad enough that the present government countenances absurd HIV/AIDS and telecommunications policies but let that be temporary and an exception to the rule, not the guiding principle of a new government. If Zuma really cares about the prosperity of this country as a whole, then he should withdraw from public life, deal with the charges against him and work with charities or something equally noble.