JZ just doesn’t get it
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.