SHARE
Jacob Zuma Laughing

In a recent article, Jacob Zuma was reported as calling himself a political genius. This was promptly followed by heckling from social media and the public. How could Zuma, the notorious idiot, the destroyer of South Africa and the bane of the ANC be a political genius? Sounds ridiculous. But what these hecklers forget is that a political genius doesn’t need to be ruling in favour of the country itself.

Zuma is no doubt a fool when it comes to understanding economics and statesmanship. It is also foolish to think he could cut it as a political scientist or analyst, but he has proven himself adequately Machiavellian and successful when it comes to achieving his own personal success.

A genius he is not, but Zuma is no doubt a cunning and skilled politician. Politics is the art of power and Zuma has shown an adeptness in retaining and gaining power. He eliminates his competition, secures the means to retain power and dominance over the state, and manages to stay elected despite record unpopularity.

What needs to be examined in answering the question of whether Zuma is a political genius is simply if he is succeeding in his goals. Only the naïve would ascribe selfless rule to South Africa’s President, so one should not expect South Africa’s prosperity to be one of his goals. Rather, Zuma’s goals are to secure his own personal power and wealth, and secure his family as a wealthy and powerful dynasty.

Zuma’s goal has never been the welfare of this country. At one time, maybe he cared about the ANC. He did benefit the party once, bringing in a lot of support. Now, he seems to be more of a liability, with the ANC losing votes with him as the most cited reason. Yet, he clings on. This could be pure stupidity, but his corrupt dealings suggest that his goals have shifted to that of the personal and the familial. He no longer cares about the green and yellow. He only wants to maximise his power and keep his head off the chopping block. For now, he has succeeded despite a population which hates him, a party which hates him, and a database of pending criminal accusations against him.

Zuma is by no means a good leader. His party is losing support. The economy, under his policies and short-sighted appointments, has faltered and is only barely holding itself out of junk status. South Africa is not a country to give its President with bragging rights.

Zuma is by no means a Bismarck or Richelieu, who were both no doubt political geniuses, but that does not disqualify him from the running. Bismarck and Richelieu cared about the empowerment of their countries. By succeeding in their goals, they were deemed political geniuses. Zuma’s goal is the attaining and retaining of personal power – for now, he has succeeded, despite the odds. That deserves some kudos.

What remains to be seen is if Zuma’s inability to understand economics and the political economy will finally cost him his job. Zuma’s late 2015 appointment of Des van Rooyen was a slip up, as Zuma’s instinctual approach to politics proved to be inadequate to understand the whims of the market. As such, opposition to Zuma reached a fever pitch.

Nkandla, his relationship with the Guptas, and the Public Protector report that followed did prove a slip up that may cost him his power, at least eventually. Even so, he is still reigning – and must not be underestimated by hecklers or the opposition. It is important to understand one’s enemies and while satire can be important to disempower authority, it also runs the risk of underestimating a very cunning and powerful man.

  • Mariano Castrillon

    He is an imbecile. No intelligent person thinks of himself/herself as intelligent, never mind a “genius”.

    • Platitudes & Plagiarism

      I disagree! It has been to everyone’s peril that Zuma has been considered an illiterate moron. Its what he would have us all believe and he has done this brilliantly. Whilst we mock him he has his hands in our pockets and is grinning from ear to ear. I’ll say its us that are the morons for falling for this.

      • v_3

        JZ783 has made it abundantly clear that the audience he is playing to is not “cleva blacks” or whites but the rural, unsophisticated voters who keep him in power. Writer NW-S is 100% correct: JZ783 has gotten want he wants since Polokwane and is busy maneuvering the “chess pieces” at Chapter 9 bodies, NPA, SAPS, SABC (admittedly he might be losing a “knight” there) etc. etc. to keep his Stay-Out-Of-Jail card. His only BIG mistake (and it could prove “fatal”) was rigging the disciplinaries to expel “troublesome priest” Malema putting him “outside the tent p!ssing in” — in President Lyndon Johnson’s famous

        By the same token the “woodwork failure” Malema, whom many opponents (especially educated whites) write-off as an idiot, “monkey” or worse, has achieved more than any other breakaway party from the ZANC. However, HIS fatal error was giving the minority DA power in several municipalites and thus the chance to demonstrate that they can provide better government than the ZANC.

        Acting the maverick or clown has worked for Deplorable Don in the US and, in the UK, for Boris Johnson.

        Louis Botha only had standard three (or so) while Jannie Smuts was one of the brightest students to pass through Stellenbosch and Cambridge, yet it was the latter who let in the apartheid regime in 1948.

  • Jacobus Breedt

    Nicolas is absolutely correct, if Zuma was a fool or imbecile he would have been in jail. His total consolidation of political power and his intelligence and prowess in the manipulation those puppets collected as his perimeter protection is nothing short of geniality.

  • ZAPATA

    The ad hoc parliamentary committee is doing a great job with the SABC board enquiry ,so far. One only hopes that the outcome will be as great. I strongly feel that such a committee is needed to probe the NPA and the HAWKS. These two institutions are run like spaza shops.

  • Butch

    Nicolas, this genius has a huge problem, and that is TIME – his only advantage could be his age

  • Bruce McDonald

    The biggest mistake people make is underestimating their opponents. While Zuma plays the fool, he quietly accumulates meaningful power.

  • Rory Short

    Nicolas you are absolutely right. Politics is a power game and you either play it to benefit the people [Mandela] or to benefit yourself [Zuma]. Zuma is clearly only interested in himself and our responses to all his activities should be in this light unless he suddenly proves otherwise. Being birds of a feather Julius spotted this early on but when he, Julius, realised that he was, for whatever reason, not going to be included in the Zuma led gravy train he turned against him.

  • Joe Black

    Well the level to which he engages in corrupt activities does not show much foresight. It’s one thing to play the political game well, but nobody can legally stay in power forever under our constitution, and he and his family may well still reap what he is sowing before he dies. For instance if the ANC does lose even more support in the next election he will come under intense fire from both within and without the ANC – Intense… Rumblings will turn into shouting to be sure. And all he has really actually done is replace everybody who can touch him in government with toadies who will toe the line for him no matter what. Its not very sophisticated.

  • R1ckyR00ny

    “He has succeeded despite a population which hates him, a party which hates him, and a database of pending criminal accusations against him” – Heard of Muammar Gaddafi and the same sh*t he tried, how did that end for him and his entire family, if this Liar, Rapist and Thief, doesn’t run by the end of the year, we gonna get our tax money back out of him