As soon as the Republic of South Africa formed its first black majority government in 1994 it began to play the role of big brother to other African countries.
This was on two counts; first its president, Nelson Mandela was acclaimed the world over as a wise statesman; where there were disputes between countries Mandela intervened and progress was made. The second factor was that South Africa at that time was said to be Africa’s biggest economy.
Perhaps not many African leaders now took South Africa as a big brother largely because its leader Jacob Zuma is hardpressed by the Second Battle of Nkandla, when did the first battle of Nkandla take place?
There is ample information about this battle in books like Shaka Zulu and from Nguni to Ngoni. In 1818, in Nkandla forest Zwide chief of the Ndwandwe fought Shaka of the Zulu. Shaka triumphed.
Zwide’s three generals, Soshangane, Zwangendaba and Nxaba fled northwards to set up their own statues. It was after the battle of Nkandla that the Shangani Ngoni and Ndebele tribes were formed. The Shangani and Ndebele are in Zimbabwe, the Ngoni in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. The aftermaths of the first battle of Nkandla were felt all the way from Northern Zululand to Lake Victoria.
Will the second battle of Nkandla also have the same far-reaching effects in southern and eastern Africa? Perhaps not, but the whole of Africa is watching what is going on between South Africans and their President. Will it create a precedent for the opposition parties in the rest of Africa?
President Jacob Zuma is fighting on two fronts, one is bribery and corruption, the other is abuse of office. In December 2015, he dismissed his minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene because people allege Nene had refused to endorse a contract he believed had not been awarded according to rules.
Soon after President Zuma appointed as new minister a little known man there were allegations that this man had been sponsored by a private conglomerate whose directors were said to be closely associated with Zuma. The outcry forced the appointee to resign.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) an opposition party alleged that Zuma had overspent taxpayers’ money at his private residence at Nkandla and demanded that he should refund the excess. The highest court of the Republic has found Zuma guilty of behavior not appropriate for his office.
Hitherto we have read in foreign newspapers that Africa’s lacklustre development has been a result of corrupt dictators. South Africa is not a dictatorship. Its opposition parties speak their minds and they have spoken against their erring President.
Cronyism in appointments has leveled against Zuma. This alas, has been the case in other African countries since Ghana secured its independence in 1957. Putting in key positions the nice guys or girls entrenches inefficiency both in public and private sectors.
Lee Kuan Yew, late Prime Minister of Singapore, used to say he appointed only men and women of above average abilities because it is only such people who bring about changes. Slow pace economies like Malawi should take note of this.
Men and women of ability often are not good at immigrating themselves with prime ministers and presidents. Hence, they are not seen or just ignored people without capability resort to cunning and may easily find their way to the top. But success in development can only come through men and women of proven ability.
The economy of South Africa is growing at less than one percent. Some people have called Zuma to resign. He has refused apparently most members of the African National Congress (ANC) are behind their leader right or wrong. This is also the tradition in the rest of Africa.