If Zuma was done in by corruption, Mandela had been inspired both by Gandhi and Nehru.
The scandal-tainted nine-year run ended for South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday, pitching recently-elected African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader and one of the country’s wealthiest black businessmen, as the new President. The ANC has a glorious history as a national liberation and anti-apartheid movement, with men like the legendary Nelson Mandela, the first President, at the helm. But South Africa’s ruling party began to change under lesser men, more so after Mandela’s successor, LSE-trained Thabo Mbeki, and was mired in unseemly controversies.
In that respect, South Africa’s story has been regressive after its liberation, unlike India’s after 1947, which had the good fortune of having great leaders after Mahatma Gandhi, in the form of top-flight individuals like Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Azad and Rajaji at the helm.
If Mr Zuma was done in by corruption, Mandela had been inspired both by Gandhi and Nehru. Mr Zuma’s association was with the three thuggish Gupta brothers of India, who have now skipped the country. They were thought to be so powerful as to be involved in “state capture”.
In nine years, Mr Zuma weathered eight no-confidence motions and might have faced a ninth — moved by his own party — had he not stepped down. He has left behind a badly suffering economy, with 30 per cent unemployment. That means Mr Ramaphosa has a job to do.
Is he the right man to do it? The new President has impeccable credentials as an anti-apartheid fighter but his vast businesses may leave some wary.