John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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“Africa Day” in South Africa and President Jacob Zuma’s Rivals

by John Campbell
May 29, 2012

South African President Jacob Zuma speaks during a media briefing at the Union Building in Pretoria, October 24, 2011. (Handout/Courtesy Reuters)


The “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” are hitting President Jacob hard.

Earlier this week, there was the controversy over a publicly exhibited oil painting that strongly resembled Zuma with his genitals exposed, which the president’s party tried to have removed. The episode reminded the public of Zuma’s polygamy and his rape trial (he was acquitted.)

Then, there was the May 24 speech by former University of South Africa (UNISA) principal Barney Pityana commemorating the establishment of the Organization of the African Union and its successor, the African Union, in which he strongly criticized the governing African National Congress for “institutional mediocrity.” That would mean President Jacob Zuma. Pityana, an Anglican priest and theologian, is a longtime ANC member and human rights advocate. He has been prominent in the Black Consciousness Movement.

In the audience at the UNISA lecture was former youth league leader Julius Malema, a Zuma enemy who was recently expelled from the ANC. The lecture crowd seemingly adored him. Malema and his posse, exceeded in size only by Mbeki’s, wore red t-shirts with the face of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, thereby reminding all and sundry of Malema’s calls for nationalization of the mines and seizure of white-owned agricultural land without compensation. At least in part, the crowd’s adulation of Malema should be seen as hostility to Zuma’s leadership.

Looking toward the December ANC party convention in December, Africa Confidential
is running a story on Zuma’s likely challengers for president of the party. It credibly identifies: Cyril Ramaphosa, an architect of the 1994 transition and now a business tycoon; Kglama Motlanthe, the sitting vice president; and Tokyo Sexwale, now a minister and former premier of Gauteng (Johannesburg.) Like Nelson Mandela, Sexwale was imprisoned on Robben Island during apartheid days. Zuma defeated Mbeki for the party presidency at the end of 2007. Subsequently in 2008, the ANC Executive Committee recalled Thabo Mbeki, who resigned the state presidency. The vice president, Motlanthe, served as president until the next elections. Should Zuma be defeated in December, a similar scenario might unfold.

It is still early days. Active campaigning for the presidency is supposed to begin only in October. But there is already much speculation about possible alliances for and against Zuma. It should also be remembered that despite the seeming reverses of the past week, Zuma is a canny politician with strength in KwaZulu-Natal (he is a Zulu) and in the Eastern Cape, a bastion of the ANC. Nevertheless, at present, it does not look as though the ANC convention will be a cake walk for him.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Pleb

    The worst president & government ever – spends no time on running the country only lining his pockets – what a disgrace but then again what do you expect

  • Posted by Robert

    NW -We want Zuma OUT end of the soapy.

  • Posted by Michael Harris


    INTRODUCED BY Senator Price

    MAY 21, 2012

    Relative to Africa Day 2012

    WHEREAS, On May 25, 1963, the Organization of African Union was founded to promote the unity and solidarity of the African nation states to act as a collective voice for the African continent. Today, the African Union continues the journey to secure Africa’s long-term cultural, economic, and political future; and

    WHEREAS, The African Cultural Foundation, California Black
    Agriculture Working Group, and community supporters join global
    celebrations of Africa Day to celebrate the African Diaspora with
    leaders from all over the world who meet in Johannesburg, South Africa where African Presidents, Presidents from Caribbean
    nations, as well as Presidents from South America will attend the
    first ever extraordinary Global African Diaspora Summit, African Day 2012; and

    WHEREAS, The California Black Agriculture Working Group is focused on expanding California African Trade and Commerce to grow job creation and career development while expanding healthy solutions of local food system production by people of African ancestry to the “California Grown” brand both within the urban service boundary and rural California; and

    WHEREAS, California political, business, and community leaders are invited to build a solid foundation for reviving market based
    diverse African specialty crops with higher nutritional value that
    targets diet related disease with epidemic health care costs
    throughout California and beyond; and

    WHEREAS, Africa Day 2012, celebrating the African Diaspora, seeks to grow a commitment by California toward structured relationships between Africa to define key goals and identify specific projects to which collective African efforts, governmental and nongovernmental, will be directed. Together we can chart a way forward in institutionalizing processes of African cooperation, dialog, planning, and implementation of strategies and projects; and

    WHEREAS, The Africa USA International Chamber of Commerce, African Culture Foundation, and California Black Agriculture Working Group join in the building and commitment to the development of a formal California – African Union partnership; and

    WHEREAS, In collaboration with the African Union and the Global African Diaspora Summit we will consolidate a historic vision and will build the framework for effective implementation and celebrate African Day, May 25, 2012; now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, That the Senate recognizes Friday, May 25, 2012, as Africa Day 2012 to celebrate the African Diaspora and to reinforce our economic relationship with the continent of Africa; and be it further

    Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

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