African Transformation Movement (ATM) chief of policy and strategy Mzwanele Manyi has branded the Sunday Times’ decision to give its not-so-coveted Mampara of the Week award to former president Jacob Zuma on Sunday “the essence of RACISM”.
The column, awarded each week to a South African the publication chooses as having acted particularly foolishly, focused on Zuma due to his recent assertion that he cannot testify at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture due to a “serious medical condition”.
“Three weeks ago, Jacob Zuma was well enough to sing and dance with the Umlazi Gospel Choir, judging by his social media posts,” the column, written anonymously under the byline ‘Hogarth’, said.
The column expresses the view that Zuma’s “medical condition” is “just the first of his excuses for dodging the legal bullets he obviously fears”.
According to the column, this is just the latest example of the former president’s ability to “duck and dive – with consummate cunning and stamina”, in a bid to “avoid accountability for his actions”.
“Perhaps it’s time to give up on him, accept that he’s a mampara for the ages and focus our remaining energies on digging ourselves out of the hole he left us in,” the weekly column concludes.
Manyi’s racism allegation reflects Zuma’s own view that he has been unfairly targeted due to his race.
Speaking to supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court in October last year, where he continues to face corruption charges for allegedly accepting bribes related to the controversial arms deal in 1999, Zuma said he believes the trial is “victimisation” because of his race.
“As a black person, you will face victimisation until you die, you will also encounter traitors,” he said.
Before this, following 2017’s People’s March, which saw thousands of South Africans locally and internationally gather to call for the former president to resign, Zuma expressed the view that the march was a “racist onslaught“.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)