“I want to come home, but what about Zuma?”

I just recently got a mail from a buddy currently living on the grey, dreary, alcoholic and muddy island they call the United Kingdom:

“Im […] wanting to come back to SA permanently quite soon but I’m not so sure about it anymore with Zuma being voted in! What is your opinion? Do you think the country is going to go to ruins?”

I provide, for your interest, my response – and please note this is by no means a complete argument, but I thought it may be of interest to some:

Dude

Zuma has been voted in as president of the ANC. Mbeki remains President of the country and will be until 2009.

In order for Zuma to take over as President of South Africa (something which does not actually scare me that much), he has to be cleared of all criminal charges currently pending. He has fraud, corruption and racketeering charges laid against him and will be going to court in August 2008 to try clear his name.

The way I see it, if he is convicted of the above, then, well, he goes to prison. If he is cleared, then it is important because we would not want a State President with such a cloud over his head. Fact is Zuma is a popular, practical man. He’s a little stupid, but he knows he is no rocket scientist and to my mind that could well be a benefit – he’ll focus on what he can do and delegate the rest. This is certainly in line with everything I have read of the guy. I’ll tell you that I believe Zuma would do much more about the crime problem in South Africa than Mbeki has.

South Africa is not a Zimbabwe in the making and there are several reasons for this, but they are best explained in an article by a M&G journalist Jonty Fisher and my response (backing him up) to his position.

Take a look at my blog at http://www.warwickchapman.com/ and read: “M&G’s DG Report Summary” and “Response to the comments to Jonty Fisher’s ‘South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe’”. I would urge you to read as well Jonty Fisher’s original article at ThoughLeader, “South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe

The long and the short of it goes like this. This is the 21st century – the world over wants Africa to work. There are enough examples over the past 50+ year of what NOT to do in an African country. Priority number 1 is not to let any one lead become a leader for life. Unlike Zimbabwe, we have a population united around the limitation that our State President can serve a maximum of two terms (5 years each) as stipulated in our Constitution. Nobody is marching and toyi-toying to have Mbeki run for a third term as State President. Aside from being wildly unpopular for protecting people like Selebi and Manto, this is why Mbeki cannot be State President beyond 2009.

Priority number 2 (or even more important that 1) is an independent judiciary. Ie. Are your judges free from political interference. Again, unlike Zimbabwe, this is still the case. So our courts are free to judge against Zuma without fear of recrimination.

The way I see it, the future of South Africa is like the potential for shark attack when swimming out at backline. We all know that the chances of getting killed on the way to the beach are much higher than that of being attacked by a Shark, but nonetheless, thanks to Jaws, Jaws II, Jaws 2849 (ie. Zimbabwe and other shockers), we have this graphic image in our minds of the horror of being attacked, even though we know the chances are next to nothing.

South Africa is the 18th (out of 200+) most attractive destination in the world for foreign direct investment (read my blog “Excerpts from Manuel’s Mid-term Budget Speech (Delivered yesterday)”), we’ve made massive progress over the past 14 years (even if it is hard to see from day to day). We’re not going to throw that all away. Even the most communist of communist idealists in South Africa cannot deny massive progress has been made since then…

Come home kid. Rather take part in what’s happening here than rot on that sad, grey, muddy-ass island wishing you were here in the sun and fun.

K, shooting to the beach for a swim.

Ciao, Warwick

[Update: I came back from the swim and sent him another mail]

“Ok, I made the swim without getting attacked by a shark. It is ok for you to come home now.”

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