President Zuma Booed at Madiba Memorial
South African President Jacob Zuma took the stand to deliver his eulogy to the sound of boos from the crowd. Yesterday mourners attending the memorial service held for former South African president Nelson Mandela voiced their disapproval of incumbent president Jacob Zuma, calling for former president Thabo Mbeki to take the stand instead.
ANC leaders have called call this display a disgrace in front of visiting world leaders, at a time when the focus was on honouring Mandela.
But was this display not in the spirit of Madiba? Everyone present at the event was there to honour and remember Mandela. It was an emotionally charged day, in an emotionally charged week. Had Nelson Mandela been there in body as well as spirit, he would surely have said "Let the people speak".
President of a Troubled Nation
President Zuma has been a controversial figure on South Africa's political scene. His presidency has been marred by a rapidly declining economic situation, massive unemployment, high levels of poverty and rising civil unrest not seen in South Africa since the days of the freedom struggle.
Amidst this scenario President Zuma has been accused of corruption scandals over the arms procurement for the SANDF and his Nkandla private residence, accused of rape before becoming president and leader of the African National Congress.
While found innocent of the rape charge, investigations into the arms deal and misuse of public revenue continue at this time.
For many in Gauteng, President Zuma's announcement in November that the unwanted E-tolling system would start in December may have been the last straw. Gauteng residents are bitter about being forced to pay for roads they feel they have already paid for in the massive fuel levy and other taxes making up 30 percent of the extremely high price paid for fuel in South Africa.
Citizens feel that while they live in poverty, which gets worse daily as rising costs of food and transport eat into already meagre wages (for those who even have employment), government officials and party ANC) leaders live in luxury on taxpayers money.
Citizens Disillusioned with President Zuma
Speaking to citizens of South Africa living in the Gauteng Province, it's clear from their remarks president Zuma does not hold their affection and regard unlike previous presidents Nelson Mandela and even Thabo Mbeki.
When Mbeki was removed from office, many thought it was a power play by the ANC factions supporting Jacob Zuma.
Moving Away from Mandela's Legacy
Many South Africans believe the current ANC leadership has moved away from the principles which Nelson Mandela lived for; freedom, equality and prosperity for all South Africans, for all people everywhere. Many believe the current crop of leaders care more for the trappings of office and personal gain for themselves, than for the good of the people they represent.
Without doubt corruption is rife within the government of South Africa. Without doubt levels of poverty have risen under the ANC in last 10 years. Without doubt there is a growing gap between the few haves and the majority have-nots. Without doubt embedded racism is growing. Without doubt the nation's infrastructure is crumbling. Without doubt civil unrest is at levels not seen since the dark days of apartheid. Without doubt the people of South Africa are discontent.
South Africa today is not the nation Nelson Mandela lived and suffered for.