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Leadership shifts in South Africa

By Natalie Roadarmel
Staff Writer

South African president, Jacob Zuma resigned from office on Feb. 14 after a nearly nine year presidency and a plethora of scandals.

“No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name,” Zuma stated during a nationally televised political address. “I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the republic with immediate effect.” Although he agreed to resign, he was not in agreement with the party’s decisions which instructed him to do so. “I’m being victimized here,” Zuma said, arguing that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is his expected successor, and various other party leaders had not offered him clear reasoning for why he should resign.

Zuma, 75, became president in 2009 after an upbringing stricken with poverty and a lack of formal schooling. He has followed in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, being an anti-apartheid activist and experiencing imprisonment alongside Mandela on Robben Island in 1963. As a member of the Zulu tribe, Zuma is a traditionalist and polygamist. He has had six marriages in total, and currently has four wives and 21 children.

Zuma also has a stark past of corruption allegations and scandals trailing behind him. He was faced with allegations of corruption from an arms deal in 1999 which involved the government purchasing warships, fighter jets, submarines and helicopters. Zuma’s presidency was marked by sluggish economic growth, racial inequality and record unemployment levels.

He was ordered to step down by the African National Congress (ANC) party. Although he was not under constitutional obligation to obey, if he did not resign the parliament would have held a vote of no-confidence in him on Thursday, which would have taken him out of power. Zuma’s position as leader of the ANC was replaced by Ramaphosa, one of South Africa’s wealthiest businessmen. Ramaphosa has told the public that eliminating government corruption is a top priority for him.

In addition, South Africa has been struggling with a lack of water supplies in one of its largest cities, Johannesburg. The mayor, Herman Mashaba, has named this day “Day Zero,” which will occur when the city’s four million residents will be forced to shut off taps because there is no water left after to years of drought. Recently, the mayor moved this date earlier by one week to April 22.

To cut down on water usage, residents have been prohibited from washing cars, watering lawns and filling pools, and have been pressured to limit showers to two minutes and only flush the toilet when completely necessary. On Jan. 1, each household’s monthly water allowance was cut from 20,000 liters to 10,500 liters.

When dam levels fall to 13.5 percent, Day Zero will have been reached. Residents will then have to collect their daily water at local sites and will only be allocated 25 liters per person, per day.

This drought is in part caused by lack of rain, but also misconduct and corruption. Khaya Magaxa, leader of the African National Congress in this province, has reported that the DA’s (Democratic Alliance) mismanagement plays a role in the water crisis.

”This problem has been exacerbated by the poor management on the DA side, both in the provincial government and in the municipality,” Magaxa commented. He has also noted that the DA’s failure to restrict the use of water when the first serious drought began has greatly affected the current situation.

Cape Town is also facing serious consequences after two years of drought. Recommendations of limiting water usage to 87 liters a day have been ignored by three fifths of residents. Cape Town’s own “Day Zero” has been set back to April 12, 10 days before Johannesburg’s. In response, the formation of a black market for safe drinking water has been seen in the area.

“For enterprising gangs this is South Africa’s bitcoin. They know the value of stored fresh drinking water will soar in coming weeks and getting thousands of litres of it now for free is likely to be extremely profitable,” commented Jamie Bowden, a long-term visitor of Cape Town who is originally from the United Kingdom. Feb. 1 saw the water limit per person in Cape Town drop from 87 liters a day to 50.



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