Zuma’s new set of illogical utterances is fueling criticism that the South African president is ignorant of realities in his county and has lost control of his leadership. And – yet again – he blamed apartheid for not hitting the targets he set himself and his government.
The media briefing came in the same week criticism of his leadership mounted to the point where critics said the country is teetering on the brink of collapse. After the briefing Times Live wrote it came across as an “attempt to justify rather than inform”.
The briefing followed a question-and-answer “circus” in parliament last week during which Zuma showed he did not know what his ministers are doing. Zuma told MPs he was not aware that Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi had suspended the licence of Optimum Coal Mine, a subsidiary of Glencore, because the company had allegedly failed to adhere to social labour plans and retrenchment processes.
But this week Zuma said the matter “has been resolved”. He could not offer details.
His later statements about creating employment is nothing short of a joke, suggesting he would do better if it were not for South Africa’s “huge majority of unskilled labour force” and them attempting to prove that his government’s “support” was responsible for taking production in the automotive sector from 356800 units in the year 2000 to over 566000 units in 2014″, which we all know was private sector driven.
“This support has grown auto exports from 11000 units in 1995 to over 270000 units in 2014. As a result, 300000 jobs have been created in the automotive sector.”
Zuma could not hide the fact that things were not going according to the National Development Plan. Economic growth is so far behind behind the NDP’s target that it cannot be spotted with binoculars. Zuma’s so-called “five million jobs target” has been shifted from 2020 to 2030. That’s moving the goal posts by a decade.
Zuma blamed the country’s tepid economic growth on apartheid, describing it as “colonialism of a special type”. Critics said to continue blaming apartheid was “even more kak from an under performer trying to hide is inability to lead”.
Zuma said: “Other countries in Africa never had a racially based economy,” he said. “We are trying to address the legacy of apartheid, and it’s going to be with us a long time.”
Times Live and AFP quotes economist Mike Schussler expressing scepticism over Zuma’s prediction of a 3% growth rate.
“It is unlikely as power is but one constraint, as are lower commodity prices, the lack of tourists and slowly increasing interest rates. The world economy and China’s [are] slowing, which will impact on us,” said Schussler.
Political analyst Prof Steven Friedman said that after winning consecutive elections convincingly for 20 years, the government was coming to grips with a very real “trust deficit” between itself and a section of the electorate.
“[The media briefing] is not usual and it does show an understanding that the government knows there exists a problem of trust with a section of the electorate. I think they got the message that ‘if you want people to trust you, you have to talk to them’. Previously, they tended to take voters for granted,” he said.
Asked whether the briefing had managed to bring the government closer to the people, he said: “It does to a certain extent. I think there is a genuine shift in attitude but one must admit that, based on what has happened recently, [this] exercise does come across as an attempt to justify rather than inform.”
Another political analyst, Dr Somadoda Fikeni, said Zuma’s impromptu briefing did little to reassure the nation.
“Following last week’s appearance in parliament, the president rightfully felt under siege and he would have wanted to show that he is firmly in charge.
“But when you have a president who goes out of his way to insist that all is well when there are numerous challenges at different levels of society, then you begin to realise that [the briefing] could only have the opposing effect,” said Fikeni.