Jacob G. Zuma is the incumbent President of South Africa. He also holds the position of the President of the African National Congress. Formerly, Zuma served as a Deputy President. He has consecutively been serving these prominent positions since 1999.
Early Life and Education
On 12 April 1942, Jacob G. Zuma was born to a policeman father and a housewife mother. He grew up in Nkandla with two brothers; they never had a chance of formal education.
Now 74 years old, Zuma has already married six times. The first wife Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo and Zuma tied the marital knot in 1973. They have no children yet. After 3 years of their first marriage, Zuma wedded Kate Mantsho. The couple had five children and got divorced in 2000. The third wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, entered Zuma’s polygamic life in 1982. Although she remained with Zuma only for a decade and a half, she gave birth to four children.
In 2008, 66-year-old Zuma married a young woman exactly half his age. Nompumelelo Ntuli gave three children to Zuma’s family tree. After two years, he got married to Thobeka Stacy Mabhija. The couple already has three children. The last marriage with Gloria Bongekile Ngema in 2012. By now, Ngema has already added a son to Zuma family.
Maybe a surprise to modern times, Zuma has more than 15 legitimate children.
By the age of 17, Zuma had already joined the African National Congress (ANC). Although he lacked formal education, he was always clever in political matters. As ANC got banned, he shifted to Umkhonto we Sizwe party in 1962. A year later, Zuma left the party to join South African Communist Party.
The same year Zuma joined South African Communist Party, he was imprisoned for 10 years on the allegations of trying to conspire against the incumbent White Government. Having been freed, Zuma moved to Swaziland and then to Mozambique. There, he significantly contributed towards developing a better Africa. In Mozambique, he served in the ANC National Executive Committee as a member (1977) and a Deputy Chief Representative. Following pressure from the South African government, Zuma and his aides were exiled from Mozambique as well.
As the ban against ANC was lifted off in 1990, Zuma returned to South Africa along with his political aides. He was consequently elected as the chair of ANC Southern Natal Region and its Deputy Secretary General. In 1994, ANC won the elections and Nelson Mandela served as the president of South Africa. Zuma continued his position in ANC until 1999.
Following the end of Mandela’s tenure, Thabo Mbeki ascended the position of the South African President. Alongside Mbeki, Zuma served as the Deputy President, assuming the office on 14 June 1999. During this six-year long tenure, Zuma contributed significantly in Burundi peace process. However, he became more captured with the corruption charges after Schabir Shaik was alleged with fraud.
With investigations and media speculations on the line, Zuma had to leave his position on 14 June 2005. Later, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) formally charged him with corruption. The case continued until 8 November 2007 when the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled against Zuma. This could be deteriorating for Zuma’s career, but the things changed after Judge Nicholson concluded that such charges were unlawful as Zuma wasn’t given an opportunity to make representations. To follow up, all the allegations were dropped off after an audio revelation that Bulelani Ngcuka and Leonard McCarthy conspired all the corruptions charges against Zuma.
Besides being alleged with corruption, Zuma was also accused of raping a 31-year-old woman. However, the charges were dropped off as Zuma insisted that the act was consensual. After these long years of wrongful allegations, Jacob Zuma had gathered large masses of supporters as well as adversaries. Despite such a rising tension, he was elected to the office of the President of South Africa. He assumed the office on 9th May 2009.
As the president of South Africa, Zuma reportedly played insider role in releasing Schabir Shaik from prison on parole. Despite arising oppositions, Zuma appointed Sandile Ngcobo to the post of Chief Justice of South Africa. Moreover, he even failed to make his financial disclosures. These kinds of consecutive failures led to a sharp decline in Zuma’s approval rating. However, this did not stop him from serving a second tenure.
As he assumed the office in 2014, Zuma primarily focused in developing international relations. For instance, he held brief talks with the US President Obama and the British Prime Minister Cameron at the African Outreach session. However, he has repeatedly criticized Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for conducting disputed elections and constantly refusing to step down.
Even during the second term, Jacob Zuma remains a controversial person. He used South African taxpayers’ money to upgrade his home in KwaZulu-Natal. When his defenders tried to exonerate him out of the situation, the opposition parties rose up and aligned against such act of corruption. Hence, Zuma had to agree on paying back any amount he spent to upgrade his private home. Likewise, Zuma was also accused of involving in corrupted relationships with Gupta family.
- Nelson Mandela Award for Outstanding Leadership from the Medical University of Southern Africa, Washington, D.C., 1998
- Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Great Britain, 2010
- University of Zululand (2001), Honorary Doctor of Administration
- University of Fort Hare (2001), Honorary Doctor of Literature/Letters
- Medical University of Southern Africa (2001), Honorary Doctor of Philosophy
- Peking University (2012), Honorary Professor of International Relations
Trump and Zuma
US President Donald Trump and South African President Jacob Zuma have often been compared. A column in Mail & Guardian by Eusebius McKaiser even says ‘Trump and Zuma are worse than liars’. Likewise, The Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah compares Trump and Zuma explicitly. Here’s the video: