What is Zuma’s gov­er­nance legacy for black peo­ple?

CityPress - - Voices - Bru­tus Mal­ada voices@ city­press. co. za Mal­ada is a mem­ber of the Midrand Group, an in­tel­lec­tual as­so­ci­a­tion for ad­vanc­ing pub­lic di­a­logue and crit­i­cal re­flec­tion

It is a tragedy when the char­ac­ter of one man tar­nishes the im­age of a whole na­tion. South Africa is at that stage, and the cul­prit is our pres­i­dent, Mr Ja­cob Zuma. The nu­mer­ous mis­takes Zuma has made, ir­ra­tional de­ci­sions he has taken and un­wise state­ments that roll off his tongue have all brought South Africa into dis­re­pute.

But it is the dam­age Zuma has in­flicted on the col­lec­tive im­age of black peo­ple that should worry us the most. Many years af­ter Zuma is no more, black peo­ple will still be strug­gling to ex­tri­cate them­selves from the bur­den of his legacy. Whether we, black peo­ple, like it or not, that he is black like us means that he car­ries our im­age ev­ery­where.

That the man may – ow­ing to his low level of con­scious­ness – not be aware of the enor­mity of such a re­spon­si­bil­ity does not make this point in­valid. Black peo­ple should live with his fail­ures or take cor­rec­tive mea­sures. In him, we black peo­ple got the govern­ment we de­serve.

To dis­cern his legacy, we need to as­sess the per­for­mance of his govern­ment since he took over. The World Bank’s gov­er­nance in­di­ca­tors – of voice and ac­count­abil­ity; govern­ment ef­fec­tive­ness; reg­u­la­tory qual­ity; rule of law; political sta­bil­ity and vi­o­lence; and con­trol of cor­rup­tion – have been used since 1996 to as­sess the state of gov­er­nance in 215 coun­tries. For this pur­pose, we will use re­sults from the 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2014 data. The data use the score from 0% to 100%, where 100% in­di­cates bet­ter gov­er­nance and 0% is poor gov­er­nance.

The voice and ac­count­abil­ity in­di­ca­tor mea­sures “the ex­tent to which a coun­try’s cit­i­zens are able to par­tic­i­pate in se­lect­ing their govern­ment, as well as free­dom of ex­pres­sion, free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion and free me­dia”. The data show that we scored 65.9% in 2007, 64.5% in 2009, 66.2% and 68.5% in 2011 and 2014, re­spec­tively.

The im­prove­ment in our scores is an af­fir­ma­tion of the reg­u­lar­ity of our elec­tions and the in­de­pen­dent me­dia we have. The im­prove­ment should be read as a vic­tory for the me­dia, which fought so hard against the in­tro­duc­tion of a me­dia tri­bunal to limit in­de­pen­dent free­dom of ex­pres­sion. Who could for­get Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande’s sug­ges­tion of in­tro­duc­ing an anti-in­sult law to pro­tect Zuma from pub­lic crit­i­cism?

The political sta­bil­ity and ab­sence of vi­o­lence in­di­ca­tor mea­sures “per­cep­tions of political in­sta­bil­ity and po­lit­i­cally in­sti­gated vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing ter­ror­ism”. Our score was 51.0% in 2007, 41.2% in 2009, 48.6% in 2011 and 43.2% in 2014. The Marikana mas­sacre hap­pened un­der Zuma’s watch. It was also un­der his lead­er­ship that the gov­ern­ing party was im­pli­cated in the rig­ging of by-elec­tions in the Tlokwe mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The govern­ment-ef­fec­tive­ness in­di­ca­tor mea­sures “per­cep­tions on the qual­ity of pub­lic ser­vices, the qual­ity of civil ser­vice and the de­gree of in­de­pen­dence from political pres­sure...” This in­di­ca­tor de­clined, from 69.9% in 2007, 67% in 2009, 66.4% in 2011 and 65.4% in 2014. Ser­vicede­liv­ery protests are in­creas­ing. The case of the ma­tri­c­less Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, for ex­am­ple, also tells the story of a pat­ri­mo­nial govern­ment that has no re­gard for merit. That Zuma’s name was “dropped” to give the Gup­tas a soft land­ing at Waterk­loof in 2013 shows that pub­lic ser­vants are not in­su­lated from political pres­sure.

The abil­ity of govern­ment to “for­mu­late and im­ple­ment sound poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions that per­mit and pro­mote pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment” is mea­sured through reg­u­la­tory qual­ity. The scores de­clined from 67.5% in 2007, to 64.1% in 2009, 64% in 2011 and 63% in 2014. There is un­cer­tainty about many pol­icy is­sues, in­clud­ing land, and in­vestors don’t know if their as­sets will be safe. Poli­cies, in­clud­ing the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, are gath­er­ing dust.

The rule of law mea­sures “con­fi­dence in and ad­her­ence to rules, the qual­ity of con­tract en­force­ment, prop­erty rights, the po­lice and the courts”, etc. Here our score starts to climb from 55.5% in 2007, 56.9% in 2009, 58.2% in 2011 and 63.9% in 2014. This is a re­flec­tion of the ex­tent to which we have be­come a ju­dioc­racy – a lead­er­ship by ju­di­ciary. No­body knows what would have hap­pened to the so-called spy tapes if we did not have an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary. The ju­di­ciary is our re­main­ing hope, a pil­lar hold­ing our state to­gether.

The con­trol of cor­rup­tion in­di­ca­tor mea­sures “the ex­tent to which pub­lic power is ex­er­cised for pri­vate gain”, and the “cap­ture” of the state by “elites and pri­vate in­ter­ests”. Our score stood at 61.7% in 2007, went up to 63.2% in 2009 and fell to 58.8% in 2011 and 54.3% in 2014. Zuma’s own homestead, Nkandla, is a stark ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when pub­lic power is used for pri­vate gain. The Gup­tas have cap­tured the pres­i­dent, his whole fam­ily and Cab­i­net for their pri­vate in­ter­ests.

The ver­dict is sim­ple: Zuma be­queaths South Africa a legacy of mis­gov­er­nance. Above all, he has af­firmed the stereo­type that black peo­ple can­not gov­ern. How tragic!

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