JOHANNESBURG: With less than two months to South Africa’s crunch election, scandal-tainted former president Jacob Zuma has stolen the spotlight in an unlikely comeback, further wounding the ruling ANC, analysts say.

Arguably the most polarising politician in the country’s history of democracy, Zuma’s politicking can be enthralling or perplexing.

The ex-leader who has made headlines almost daily in the southern African nation for a series of political engagements and court battles over his legitimacy to run in the May 29 poll — remains at the centre of discourse both on and offline. In December Zuma stunningly announced he would campaign for a new party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK).

That saw him suspended by the African National Congress (ANC), which is on the brink of dropping below 50 per cent of the vote for the first time since it came to power in 1994.

“Zuma’s comeback epitomises his intense anger with the ANC... almost a revenge on a political party that he believes has alienated him,” political analyst Susan Booysen said. “So for his supporters the MK is a form of loyal revenge.”

Many believed the 82-year-old’s career would end when he was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 after refusing to testify to a panel probing financial corruption and cronyism under his presidency.

He was later freed on medical parole just two months into his term, but his jailing sparked protests, riots and looting that left more than 350 dead in South Africa’s worst violence since the advent of democracy. But why does the prominent freedom fighter turned corruption emblem still garner so much support? Often the first to sing and dance, captivating large crowds with his jokes and one-liners the politician is constantly leveraging his charisma to hold onto power.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...