Jacob Zuma is desecrating Nelson Mandela's legacy and South Africa's future by refusing to step down from power.
Under pressure for his grotesque mismanagement of the economy and what is, even by African standards, Zuma's awe-inspiring corruption, the African National Congress is demanding Zuma relinquish power. Even though the ANC is his party, Zuma is refusing to budge. Like a spoiled five year-old, the president says he has been "victimized" and that the ANC are "very unfair."
Fortunately, Zuma's fate seems clear. The ANC intends to hold a no confidence vote and, on Friday, replace Zuma with an old hand and prospective reformist, Cyril Ramaphosa.
That's good news. As I noted last October, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is a corrupt, venal and deeply arrogant man.
Nevertheless, there's a special tragedy to this situation. After all, last Friday was the 28th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison. But while Zuma was supposed to be a liberating servant of the South Africa's vast demographic of impoverished black citizens, he has failed them absolutely. Unemployment and crime rates are catastrophically high, foreign investors are hesitant, and the poverty rate is actually rising. Indeed, as the government chart below illustrates, Zuma's record on poverty is pathetic.
Considering its demographic base, mineral reserves, tourism potential, and geo-economic position, South Africa should be booming. Instead, as a metaphor for Zuma's leadership, the nation's second most populous city, Cape Town, is running out of water. While climate change and population growth are both causal factors for that water depletion, government mismanagement is also front and center.
All of this speaks to the basic truth: If he had any respect for South African law and Mandela's legacy, Zuma would step down.
But that would require some degree of leadership, and Zuma is no Mandela.
He's now hanging onto power, presumably haggling for protections against corruption charges. But his words speak to his nature. Lamenting the ANC's push to remove him, Zuma is threatening them. Speaking on Wednesday, Zuma warned that "Some of my comrades may not like [what will follow]."
I have a solution. Once the no confidence vote has been held, South Africa's judiciary should instruct the police to go into the presidential residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, and throw Zuma out onto the street.