South Africa & The Zuma Factor | Start Here
What’s behind the recent looting and rioting in South Africa? And where does former president Jacob Zuma fit in? #AJStartHere with @SandraGathmann looks at the backstory.
#southafricariots #SouthAfricaUnrest #jacobzuma #southafricariots
Subscribe to our channel http://bit.ly/AJSubscribe
Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/AJEnglish
Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera
Check our website: http://www.aljazeera.com/
South Africa is dealing with a lot of
problems — the legacy of apartheid,
huge economic inequality, crushing
and the most recorded cases of COVID-19
in Africa. But none of that —
except for the pandemic — is new. So why
did things kick off back in early July?
Well, you can’t answer that question
without talking about the former
Jacob Zuma. He was in office from 2009 to
a time marked by corruption and cronyism
at the highest levels of government.
Zuma was forced to resign in 2018
because of all the allegations against
He’s been fighting them ever since and
denies he did anything wrong,
which brings us to the Zondo commission.
It’s a public inquiry into what’s called
state capture during Zuma’s presidency,
meaning corruption involving the
government and the private sector.
witnesses have provided lots of details
about what allegedly went on.
President Ramaphosa says the cost of
corruption during Zuma’s time in office
was more than $30 billion.
So that’s some of the backstory. Here’s
how things escalated.
In February this year Zuma refused to
appear before the Zondo commission —
even though he testified before. And then
in June the Constitutional Court
sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison
for contempt of court.
He was given a deadline to turn himself
in and at the very last minute
he showed up at a police station.
While all that
was going on
hundreds of Zuma supporters, some
rallied in KwaZulu-Natal, his home
And for a while there things did get out
Over the next week there were more than
300 reported incidents,
including looting and arson across the
Natal and Gauteng, where the cities of
and Durban are. In some places police
failed to control the looting.
People took security into their own
hands, from taxi drivers
to armed vigilantes. President Ramaphosa
was criticised for being too
slow to act. Eventually, after almost a
he sent in 25,000 soldiers — the biggest
since the end of apartheid. And that
helped to calm things down.
And now South Africans have been left to
clean up the mess.
Well, some of it appeared to be plain
But a lot of people in South
are struggling to survive.
The World Bank says it’s the most
in the world. Unemployment among young
at 75% and the pandemic has made
That context, though, doesn’t
explain everything that’s happened and
President Ramaphosa suggested there was
actually something else going on.
So that takes it to a
whole other level.
The implication is that Zuma, or people
close to him, had something to do with
But right now that hasn’t been proven
and as of July 19
only one suspected ringleader had been
arrested. Now remember
Ramaphosa and Zuma are from the same
political party —
the ANC — which has run South Africa for
30 years, since the end of apartheid. But
the two men now represent
rival factions within the same party.
That’s one theory and apart from
anything else it shows just how
complicated this whole situation is.
What happened has revealed a lot about
South Africa’s problems
and how much work it will take to solve
them. But it’s
also a moment for reflection.
For more on the situation in South
Africa head over to aljazeera.com.
You can also find more Start Here
episodes on Instagram, Twitter or
Also make sure to subscribe to this
YouTube channel so you don’t miss our