21 April 2014

South Africa's Zuma Obsession v the Reality


As a nation, it would seem hard to deny that we have become quite obsessed with President Jacob Zuma. He dominates all the non-Oscar headlines we have. Nkandla is now a word with special power in our politics; sometimes it seems he's portrayed as the devil-incarnate, the person single-handedly responsible for the decline of our country, and of the ANC.

But the other night, I was asked: "How different would these elections be if Zuma weren't head of the ANC?" It's a question that makes you think about the image of the ANC, President Jacob Zuma, and the difference between temporary electioneering antics and the longer term issues. It also makes you wonder if perhaps we are too obsessed with Number One.

In South Africa, as in most democracies, symbols and personalities matter. The person who leads a party really matters. There is plenty of evidence that seems to show that even in constituency democracies like the UK, people tend to make their decisions not based on the person who would be the voter's Member of Parliament, but on who the leader of the party is. So it's obvious that Zuma matters to the ANC. If your...

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