I don’t like Jacob Zuma. I don’t believe a word he says. I believe that if he is charged with corruption, he will be found guilty and jailed.
I know, however, that many people support him – although God alone knows why. And yet, I can take people hanging onto, in my opinion, every lie that comes out of his mouth.
I’m a democrat, see.
But there is one thing that pees me off – and will always pee me off….
I cannot take his attempts to make himself seem like a modern-day Robert Sobukwe.
He’s not.
He never will be
He’s is as far from Sobukwe as PW Botha was from Mandela.
Sobukwe was an honorable man … a humble man … a man of the people … a genuine freedom fighter.
Can Jacob Zuma, hand on his heart, claim to be any of these.
No. Definitely not.
Robert Sobukwe was born in Graaff-Reinet, to a father who was a labourer and a mother who had no formal education. After attending, via a scholarship, the Methodist boarding school of Healdtown in the Eastern Cape, he attended the University College of Fort Hare, and like so many other great South Africans before him, gravitated towards politics, joining the Youth League of the African National Congress, which had been established at Fort Hare, by Godfrey Pitje, a prominent Youth Leaguer, who later became its president.
After varsity, he took up a teaching post in Standerton in the then Eastern Transvaal, which he lost when he was sacked for supporting the Defiance Campaign of 1952.
But later, he returned to teaching when he took up a post as an instructor in African Languages at the University of Witwatersrand.
At Wits, Sobukwe became an outspoken critic of the ANC, for allowing itself to be dominated by what he described as ‘liberal-left multi-racialists’. He believed strongly in an ‘Africanist’ future for black South Africans.
On a public platform, Sobukwe was regarded as a charismatic speaker. But he was also shy and was surprised when he was chosen to head the Pan Africanist Congress at its inaugural congress.
But his ability as a speaker, his shining intelligence and his deep-rooted, duty bound commitment to his cause made him a natural cause to head the PAC.
On the eve of the anti-Pass campaign, he accused the apartheid government of representing an ‘outworn, anachronistic, vile system of oppression.
‘They have the rancid smell of decaying vegetation,’ he said. [On the other hand] ‘We [the PAC] represent the fresh fragrance of flowers in bloom,’ he said, adding ‘the whole continent is on our side.’
On 16 March, Sobukwe told the SA Commissioner of Police that the PAC would begin a ‘sustained, non-violent, disciplined campaign against the Pass Laws. On 19 March, at a media conference, he announced the date of the protest: Monday, 21 March 1960.
He told the media: ‘I have appealed to the African people to make sure that this campaign is conducted in a spirit of absolute non-violence and I’m quite certain they will heed my call. He told the media, ‘I have appealed to the African people to make sure that this campaign is conducted in a spirit of absolute non-violence, and I’m quite certain they will heed my call. If the other side so desires, we will provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how brutal they can be.’
The forces of apartheid obliged, shooting dead 69 people at Sharpeville.
Sobukwe was jailed for three years – plus a further six years under a new law – the Sobukwe Clause – devised by John Vorster, in which he was kept under preventative detention, away from the other prisoners, at Robben Island.
When he was eventually released, his movements were restricted under a banning order.
Let’s get this straight: Sobukwe was not a Zuma. According to his former compatriot, Joe Thloloe, he ‘epitomised the warmth, humanist and generosity required by a true leader’.
In a statement this week, in which he was ordered to appear before the Zondo Commission, Zuma accused the Constitution Court of mimicking the posture of the [Zondo] commission ‘in that it has now also created a special and different set of circumstances specifically designed to deal with Zuma by suspending my Constitutional rights rendering me completely defenseless against the commission’.
This he feels is similar to the punishment meted out to Sobukwe.
It was yet another attempt by Zuma to avoid answering a litany of accusations centering on corruption.
Sobukwe’s name was never associated with corruption, theft and lies. In any way.
And here’s another question for Zuma….
In the close to 10 years that he was president of South Africa, did he do anything to honour the memory of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe?