His theme, “We have a good story to tell”, was punched full of holes.
The good parts of the story are attributable to his predecessors, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko captured the tone when she said there was another story to tell.
“That is the story of President Jacob Zuma and his ANC. It is the story of five years of poor leadership, which have reversed much of the progress we have made as a nation. It is a story of a presidency that lacks both the political will and the credibility to do what is needed to keep South Africa on your predecessors’ path.”
The litany of Zuma’s shortcomings is well known. Wasteful and fruitless expenditure has rocketed to more than R30 billion a year, not counting the
R208 million on his private homestead at Nkandla. Corruption is rampant. His extravagant, repeated promises of job creation have turned to dust, and there are dozens of protests around the country daily.
Yet Zuma provided even more ammunition when he claimed many of the protests were the result of government successes rather than any failures. That is wishful thinking of the highest order. It also smacks of denialism reminiscent of Mbeki’s approaches to Aids, Zimbabwe and joblessness.
Surrounded by sycophants and others seeking favours, Zuma has lost touch with just how harsh life can be for many South Africans. His speech said more about the state of his mind than the state of the nation. It showed a mind that needs to wake up to the challenges of leading this nation for another five years.