JZ just doesn’t get it

CityPress - - Voices -

While de­liv­er­ing judg­ment on Thursday on the United Demo­cratic Move­ment’s ap­pli­ca­tion to force the Speaker of Par­lia­ment to al­low a se­cret bal­lot on a vote of no con­fi­dence against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court made per­ti­nent re­marks about the func­tion­al­ity of a democ­racy. Although these were some­what ob­vi­ous points, they are im­por­tant to re­it­er­ate.

“The pres­i­dent, deputy pres­i­dent, min­is­ters and their deputies are thus en­joined by the supreme law of the land to be ac­count­able col­lec­tively and in­di­vid­u­ally to Par­lia­ment for the ex­er­cise of their pow­ers and the per­for­mance of their func­tions.”

So when Zuma ad­dresses Par­lia­ment and re­sponds to ques­tions from MPs, we ex­pect that he will ex­e­cute that re­spon­si­bil­ity du­ti­fully and seriously.

But Zuma’s ap­pear­ances in Par­lia­ment have be­come fod­der for co­me­di­ans. His per­for­mances would be funny if they were not tragic for the rest of so­ci­ety. The pres­i­dent ap­pears to­tally obliv­i­ous to the real­ity that when he is on that Na­tional Assem­bly podium, he is not there for political point-scor­ing and ver­bal jabs with op­po­si­tion MPs. He is sup­posed to ad­dress South Africa on im­por­tant is­sues. In­stead, Zuma is to­tally dis­mis­sive of con­cerns about the coun­try’s par­lous eco­nomic state.

When he was asked about the re­ces­sion, Zuma said it was not the first time the coun­try had ex­pe­ri­enced a re­ces­sion. Es­sen­tially, he was say­ing MPs were mak­ing a moun­tain out of a mole­hill. “No big deal,” was his mes­sage.

He gave the same re­sponse when ques­tioned abut the eco­nomic down­grade to “junk” sta­tus, re­peat­ing that it was not the first time the coun­try had gone through a down­grade.

On youth un­em­ploy­ment, Zuma said there was youth un­em­ploy­ment all over the world and South Africa was not the only coun­try with this prob­lem. It was a pres­i­dent be­tray­ing his ir­ri­ta­tion at being held to ac­count.

At no point did we get the sense that he ap­pre­ci­ated the eco­nomic bur­den that will be brought about by the re­ces­sion and the down­grade. He just does not see what the fuss is all about. There was to­tally no em­pa­thy.

South Africa does not de­serve a leader like Zuma, who just does not get it.

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