11 January 2019

South Africa: Zuma - Popular for Sure, but an Ex-President Nonetheless

Photo: The Observer
Former president Jacob Zuma.

Jacob Zuma is now a popular pamphleteer with an interesting Twitter handle.

In a week of co-ordinated events, I thought I had struck a luck at the Durban City Hall on Friday. A presidential cavalcade pulled up outside Durban City Hall and the media scrum was nowhere in sight.

A crowd gathered excitedly and their mobile phones shot up to take photos as the hubbub grew. Security detail nearby said "we should close the road". I expected President Cyril Ramaphosa to emerge.

Then shouts of "Msholozi" and former president Jacob Zuma got out of the BMW X5 and laughed and glad-handed with a crowd of ANC volunteers who had mobbed him. He was in Ramaphosa's service handing out pamphlets featuring the ANC president's beaming image and advertising Saturday's launch of the party's manifesto.

This week, Ramaphosa was criticised for sharing a platform with Zuma and promising to bring him into service. A few days later, Zuma was handing out pamphlets for his successor, showing the kind of political service ex-president's get assigned to.

I followed his walkabout and while he was warmly received, the crowd didn't grow beyond the throng of volunteers who had been set up to walk with...

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