How Grade 1 dropout uBaba Jacob Zuma outsmarted the whole country from 1973 to 2022

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Msholozi, JZ, uBaba. The man most are glad to see the back of as Commander-in-Thief, but who refuses to go down without a fight. The man who paints himself as a victim of clever blacks, the media, Cyril Ramaphosa, rich whites and Western imperialism.

Those who adore him will tell you how charming, clever and cunning JZ is. After all, with little to no education, in fact, despite being a Grade 1 dropout, Zuma outsmarted the apartheid state by re-establishing the ANC underground in KwaZulu-Natal after his release from Robben Island in 1973.

Exuding the hyper-masculinity of the archetypal freedom fighter, Jacob Zuma slipped into exile, rising to head of the ANC underground structures and head of intelligence at the ANC’s Lusaka headquarters, roles that served him well in exile and when he returned to South Africa – giving him access to a vast network of spies employed in the new South African intelligence structures.


The Teflon man managed to dodge a rape charge by Khwezi, a daughter of a comrade in exile, who regarded him as a father figure.

And he outwitted the educated and urbane Thabo Mbeki, who fired him as deputy president in 2005 after Judge Hilary Squires found one of Zuma’s early benefactors, Schabir Shaik, guilty of corruption.

Despite the cloud of Arms Deal corruption hovering over him, Zuma ousted Mbeki as ANC leader in Polokwane in 2007 by charming the likes of Julius Malema and Zwelinzima Vavi.

He convinced these guys that, unlike the neo-liberal Mbeki, he would be pro-worker and pro-poor. Look how that turned out: Malema in Parliament shouting “Pay back the money” at his former hero and Vavi confessing that supporting Zuma had been the biggest mistake of his life.

The latest money-guzzler is Zuma’s private prosecution of prosecutor Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan. In this issue’s lead story, our Durban correspondent Des Erasmus dug into our former president’s mounting money troubles and found that, at 80, the Commander-in-Thief is becoming a Beggarin-Chief, asking fans to pay for his private legal battle. The good news is that the state is not paying another cent.

We also have several other gobsmackers, like our discovery that Cape gangsters are using hi-tech drones.

Oh, and we have Peter Fabricius writing about the late Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with Nelson Mandela. Plus travel, satire, thought leaders, puzzles and sport, and a 12-page special supplement on MBAs – more than enough to keep you off the screen, informed and entertained.


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