Jacob Zuma: Five things Msholozi rates as his presidential achievements
Jacob Zuma has issued a stern defence of his presidency on his family's new reality show that airs on YouTube.
Jacob Zuma’s presidency was tumultuous from start to finish, but the former head of state has listed his five greatest achievements in his nine years at the helm of South Africa.
In the latest episode of the new YouTube reality show Zooming with the Zumas, the former ANC president said anyone describing his time in office as nine wasted years would be dishonest.
Five things Jacob Zuma achieved during his presidency
The segment was teed up by Zuma’s son and host of the show, Duduzane. In response the former president highlighted five areas which he thinks were a great success under his government.
National Development Plan
The National Development Plan (NDP) is a blueprint that aims to eradicate widespread poverty in South Africa. While Zuma lamented that the NDP was not implemented as he intended, he gloried in its creation as the first plan of its kind instituted by South Africa.
“It was during this time that the country for the first time had the National Development Plan which was never there before,” said Zuma.
“It is a different matter whether we are implementing it the way I saw it, but at least we have a plan, you cannot say that is waste of time.”
Basic Education department
Under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, the department of basic education was established as an entity distinct from the original department.
“I introduced the basic education department because I said if the foundation of a scholar is not firm, it will be a guess whether the matric results are good or bad this year.
“Today, the issue of the matric pass is no longer a guess, it is a certainty, and this is what I did. When this department was beginning to level the ground, some comrades came and said they did not agree with it at first when I introduced it, but they now agree.”
As a son of KwaZulu-Natal which sports the largest rural population of any province in the Republic, the plight of South Africa’s remote areas and farming communities is something Zuma had to address.
Shortly after being elected to office in 2009, Zuma established the department of rural development.
“People who received assistance and support from this department … win in a number of areas,” he said.
“Instead of theorising about rural development, we created a specific department to deal with it.”
Tackling HIV/AIDS head-on
Most neutral observers agree that perhaps the most significant positive legacy of the Zuma presidency was the widespread roll-out of anti-retroviral drugs.
The handling of the AIDS pandemic had been a glaring fault during the tenure of Thabo Mbeki but as Zuma points out, this was put right under his leadership.
“When I came in, I implemented that and changed the lives of people,” said Zuma.
“If you say these nine years were wasted, that is the biggest dishonesty.”
South Africa joined the economic bloc known as Brics under Zuma, and the former president says that had leadership utilised the facilities and relationship properly, the country would be in a better space economically.
“We were moving very far with our joining the Brics grouping of countries which established a bank as big as the banks that you have [IMF and World Bank],” he said.
“If we utilised that relationship, we would not be crying about lack of funds because we knew exactly where we were going.”
The downside for Jacob Zuma
Zuma faces several counts of corruption charges in a trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
The former president dropped his Constitutional Court application to have the case dismissed earlier this month prior to the announcement by the NPA that the trial would be postponed until 23 June 2020.