The Commonwealth Observer

Prime newspaper’s advice stings a faltering South African president

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Murray Burt
Written by Murray Burt

A Mail & Guardian editorial offered sage advice to South Africa’s somewhat embattled President Jacob Zuma last month. Essentially it told him the electorate wanted more than promises.

The message, from probably the most reputable media outfit in the nation, was advisory.

To invite the public to suggest on Twitter what President Jacob Zuma should say in his State of the Nation address … was perhaps not the presidency’s wisest marketing idea. The bulk of the responses were less than charitable: “Resign!” or “Pay back the money!” the paper wrote.

“You may dismiss them as the view of an elite detached from the millions who voted for the ANC, but the ruling party cannot afford to be complacent any more. It can no longer capitalize on its past glories.

It may even come to recognize the truth of such claims – just as ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe admitted recently – that the ANC was losing its liberation shine and its majority could shrink further.

There are external factors beyond its control, such as the gloomy world economy and major economies such as China slowing down. Investors are either looking elsewhere or withholding their money, pouring cold water on prospects of staunching unemployment.

But the ANC government is in control of policy-making and other tools that could turn the situation around.

It has consistently allocated money to infrastructure in health, education and other key areas. Its admission of poor planning and factional fights shows that voters … patience is waning, even turning violent.

Photo credit: Control Arms / cc

About the author

Murray Burt

Murray Burt

Murray Burt has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, starting as a cadet reporter in New Zealand, and doing two stints with wire services on Fleet Street before settling in Canada in the newspaper business. He is a retired managing editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and former city and national editor of The Globe and Mail in Toronto. He is a past-president of the CJA and has been a life member since 2003, participating in each of its conferences and CPU’s conferences since 1990. He is a director of the Advisory Council of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, based in New Delhi; president of Manitoba’s newly-reconstituted Royal Commonwealth Society; and has directorships in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (western Canada).

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