|Oh no, they're talking about|
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (1942–) was the fourth post-apartheid President of South Africa, serving from 2009–2018. He was an important member of the African National Congress during the fight against apartheid. Unfortunately, his administration has been... sub-optimal. Zuma was a member of the South African Communist Party from 1963–1990.
Zuma denies the link between AIDS and HIV. This is a serious problem in a country where nearly 1 in 8 people are HIV positive. Zuma and the second president, Thabo Mbeki, insisted that AIDS was caused by malnutrition and poverty, not HIV. This allowed the new government to pin the blame for the epidemic on years of neglect from the apartheid regime and argue that the crisis would be resolved as South Africa improved its racially-based economic inequality, rather than the government having to divert funds towards HIV prevention and information campaigns. In 2000, Zuma claimed that the people criticizing the AIDS "skeptics" were akin to the people who had criticized Galileo.
Allegations of crime
In 2005, Zuma was accused of the rape of an HIV activist, the daughter of a deceased friend, but was later acquitted. He did not use a condom during the encounter despite knowing that she was HIV-positive, but don't worry about his health: He took a shower afterward to protect himself from HIV. Luckily or not, depending on how you look at it, the issue has become far too big to ignore, and Zuma pretended to change his stance on HIV and AIDS.
This doesn't get into his notorious corruption scandals. In 2021, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by South Africa's highest court for refusing to appear before a massive corruption investigation. There is no opportunity to appeal this sentence since it comes from the highest court.
One day there will be a Second Coming of Mandela. Neither Mbeki nor Zuma is it.
JZ was caught using taxpayer money to upgrade his family's private palace. He even declared a swimming pool to be a fire safety measure; fortunately, the Public Protector called him out on his bullshit, but it took the Constitutional Court to get him to part with the reparations.
(actually by no means 'finally') he has a worryingly-close relationship with an uber-rich clan known as the Guptas. If you're American think Koch brothers, but with even fewer morals or ideologies except 'Zuptaism'.
The Gupta family corruption scandal was not merely "rich assholes pillage the country", but do so using the critical infrastructure company Eskom. Eskom is South Africa's power supplier, and thus controls nearly half of all electricity on the continent of Africa. You might have heard of the South African energy crisis; this is where it began. Corners were cut, infrastructure was ill-maintained, and supply simply could not keep up with demand. This forced Zuma to introduce "load shedding", which is a politically correct way of saying "scheduled daily blackouts". The blackouts have continued to get worse even after Zuma left office, and they are now at "stage 8", which means the electricity is off literally half of the day, every day. The lack of electricity is exploited by thieves using the blackouts to steal equipment and metal from substations and transformers, which only makes the situation worse. Hospitals are usually not exempt from the blackouts, leading to worse quality of care, if any. To fix the grid and power stations, South Africa needs foreign equipment, parts and training/workers, but to acquire these South Africa needs something to sell/trade, which typically requires that electricity already be in place to produce. This would be solved the normal way by borrowing money to be paid back with future produced goods/services, except that Zuma had already been borrowing fortunes for his various policies and the financial issues has caused SA's bond rating to be cut to "speculative grade", which is the politically correct term for "junk bond".
Complicating the matter is that one of Eskom's assets is the Koeberg nuclear power plant, the only nuclear power plant on the continent. While the plant is (relatively) productive, given the shear volume of corruption, waste, theft, etc in Eskom, well, we know what happens when incompetents are put in charge of a poorly designed and ill-maintained nuclear power plant.
He also practices polygamy, having 4 wives and at least 20 children (some of them by other women). It's good to be the king, ain't it? This has led to complaints from the rest of South Africa, even from his own party, about the amount that they have to spend yearly on his family in a country awash with poverty, around £1.2m per annum. At the same time, he opposes the right for gay people to marry the ones they love because it's "a disgrace to ... God."
Quite decidedly, Zuma is a large number of South Africans' least-favourite president since 1994. And that's arguably saying something because Mbeki made AIDS denialism official policy and was forced to resign before the end of his second term after his party gave him a resounding thumbs down.
- "In Debate on AIDS, South Africa's Leaders Defend Mavericks," New York Times, April 21, 2000
- "SA's Zuma 'showered to avoid HIV'", BBC, April 5, 2006
- Jacob Zuma, former president of South Africa, handed 15-month sentence for contempt of court by Lesley Wroughton & Max Bearak (June 29, 2021 at 7:22 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
- Damning Nkandla report finds Zuma must pay for upgrades. enca.com, 19 March 2014.
- Former South African leader Zuma handed control of Eskom to Guptas, says inquiry, Financial Times
- SA bond rating