Scandals finally catch up with South Africa's Zuma

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 5:59 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 5:59 PM

            South African President Jacob Zuma gestures as he addresses the nation and press at the government's Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. South African President Jacob Zuma says he has resigned
South African President Jacob Zuma gestures as he addresses the nation and press at the government's Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. South African President Jacob Zuma says he has resigned "with immediate effect." The scandal-tainted leader made the announcement late Wednesday in a televised address to the nation. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

As scandal after scandal unfolded, South African President Jacob Zuma maintained an affable demeanor in public, rallying his support base, dispatching lawyers to fend off court challenges and, it is alleged, enabling his corrupt associates.

Finally, the astute political operator whose on-stage dancing and singing delighted loyalists ran out of options, his reputation shattered by revelations of systemic graft in government. Abandoned by once-steadfast allies in the ruling party, Zuma was forced to resign Wednesday, ending a presidential tenure of nearly a decade, much of it marred by questions about his conduct and character.

Zuma has denied any wrongdoing. But the steady flow, and then flood, of allegations of impropriety on his watch reinforced a sense that South Africa had failed to live up to the hopes of its young democracy when apartheid ended in 1994.

Certainly, South Africa's economic inequity and other sweeping problems could not be pinned on any one person, and Zuma could point to significant improvements since the end of white minority rule, including during his presidency. But the culture of corruption and impunity that flourished in his orbit could take years to overcome.

As public opinion turned against Zuma, some members of the ruling African National Congress party began to see him as a risk to its hold on power ahead of 2019 elections. His appearances in parliament turned chaotic as protesting opposition members were removed from the chamber.

The growing discontent over Zuma was evident in 2013 when mourners booed him during a Johannesburg stadium memorial for Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and global statesman.

Before that, Zuma had presided over one of democratic South Africa's proudest periods — the staging of the World Cup soccer tournament in 2010. He was also leader during one of the most horrifying events — the fatal shooting by police of several dozen protesters during labor unrest at a platinum mine in Marikana in 2012.

Despite his fumbles and periodic scandals, Zuma was remarkably resilient and showed a deft touch during his career. In 2007, he beat then-President Thabo Mbeki in a race to lead the ANC party, opening the way for him to become president in 2009.

Zuma, 75, was born in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal province, which later became a bed rock of support for the ruling party. South Africa was in the grip of apartheid during his youth, and he joined the armed wing of the ANC in 1962 after the anti-apartheid movement was banned.

He was soon arrested and spent a decade on Robben Island, the prison where Mandela was held for many years. After his release, Zuma resumed his anti-apartheid activities, later working as head of the intelligence section of the ANC.

After the party took power in the first all-race elections in 1994, Zuma gradually worked his way to the top of its leadership.

He was popular among some South Africans for his personal warmth and populist policies, and some applauded him for embracing what they saw as traditional African values in his personal life.

He had four wives and more than 20 children, according to the website of the South African presidency. Polygamy, though, is not widely practiced and was seen by some as old-fashioned. Additionally, there were questions about what kind of example he was setting by having multiple, concurrent sexual partners in a country that was enduring an AIDS epidemic.

In 2006, while being tried on charges of raping an HIV-positive family friend, Zuma was widely criticized for testifying he took a shower after extramarital sex to lower the risk of AIDS. He was acquitted of rape.

Still, Zuma called for earlier and expanded treatment for HIV-positive South Africans and urged his countrymen to get tested for HIV.

One of the biggest scandals to hit the president involved Zuma's private Nkandla residence, where more than $20 million was spent for alleged security upgrades that, according to the state ombudsman, were financially "excessive and obscene."

Zuma later paid back some of the money.

His relationship with the Gupta family of Indian immigrant businessmen also drew widespread public anger. Emails leaked to South African media last year detailed how the Guptas attempted to use their proximity to the president to influence political appointments and secure business contracts for their sprawling media, mining and technology conglomerate.

Both Zuma and the Guptas denied wrongdoing, but voters registered their dissatisfaction. The ANC had its worst showing at the polls in municipal elections in 2016, seeing its vote share fall below 60 percent for the first time and losing control of key cities, including Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

Zuma now faces the possible reinstatement of corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago.

In December, even as his tenure as the leader of the ruling ANC was coming to an end, Zuma remained defensive in the face of scandal, saying that "being black and successful is being made synonymous to being corrupt."

The newly elected ANC leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, quickly made high-profile statements against corruption — and held private talks in recent days with Zuma on a power transition. As deputy president, Ramaphosa became the acting head of state after Zuma resigned and is expected to be elected as president by the ANC-dominated parliament and deliver a delayed state of the nation address by the end of the week.

At rallies, Zuma was known for singing a defiant anti-apartheid song that refers to a machine gun. But as opposition to him grew in recent years, a slogan became prominent in the South African lexicon, whether in parliament or on social media: "Zuma must go!"


Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at

Trending - Most Read Stories

Twitter reflects on legacy of Billy Graham after news of his death

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 10:20 AM

Billy Graham Dead at 99

People are mourning the loss of influential evangelist Billy Graham after news of his death broke early Wednesday. He was 99.

» RELATED: Evangelist Billy Graham is dead at 99

Born William Franklin Graham in North Carolina, the religious leader was known as “America’s pastor.” He also had a huge global following through his radio and television ministry, reaching millions.

Throughout his career, which spanned more than 70 years, he developed relationships with politicians and activists, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama.

As details regarding his death hit the internet, many flocked to social media to write condolences. Several said they were sad to hear about his passing.

» RELATED: Former President Jimmy Carter on death of Billy Graham

» RELATED: When Billy Graham gave his last crusade

Some praised him for his dedication and passion, while also reflecting on the lives he affected. Many called him “kind” and “amazing.”

» RELATED: Billy Graham quotes: Christianity made accessible to millions

Others chimed in with their favorite quotes from Graham. 

While a few criticized some of his preachings and political ideas, they still expressed their respect for him. 

» RELATED: Biographical details on the Rev. Billy Graham


Trending - Most Read Stories

Monkey, dog live inseparable lives

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:44 AM

WATCH: Dog and Monkey Have Inseparable Bond

A Capuchin monkey and a dog have made an unlikely pair in Colombia.

The dog, according Reuters, recently lost her litter of pups. She then became a surrogate mother of sorts to the monkey, Reuters reported.

Now the two are the best of unusual friends, Sky News reported.

>> Read more trending news 

But their friendship may soon be forced to come to an end. 

The monkey becomes upset when anyone gets near them, so the Environmental and Ecological Protection Police took the dog and monkey and could separate them, returning the monkey to the wild, the Independent reported. But there could be a hiccup to their plan. The Independent reported that the Capuchins in the wild may not welcome the monkey into their group.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Couple who lost everything in fire wins $1 million lottery

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

Tips for When You Win the Lottery

A couple in Canada can now start rebuilding their lives after they were big winners in the Atlantic Lottery.

Bill Pendergast and his wife accepted a $1 million check this month, nearly two years after their home and all their belongings were destroyed in a wildfire.

The May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire destroyed their home, along with about 10 percent of the Alberta, Canada, town, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Pendergast was recently visiting his sick father in Newfoundland, who ask him to get a soda at a store, the BBC reported. He bought a ticket at the local gas station on a whim. The next morning, he found out he was a new millionaire, CNN reported. He then called his wife, who hopped on a plane to Newfoundland to help her husband cash in on his newfound money, CNN reported.

The money, the couple said, will be used mostly to help put the pieces back together, including finishing construction on their new home, CBC reported.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

“Our rebuild should be finished in the next two to four months, so this is going to go a long way towards that,” Pendergast told CBC.

The family, including the couple’s five sons, is also going to take a family vacation, CBC reported.

But there is one thing the lucky winner always wanted that will now become a reality.

“I have always wanted a Mustang, and I will finally have one, I’m 100% sure of that,” Pendergast told CNN.

FILE PHOTO(Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

Trending - Most Read Stories

London City Airport shuts down due to unexploded WWII bomb

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 1:59 PM
Updated: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 1:59 PM

London City Airport canceled all flights in and out of it after a 1,100-pound bomb was found. The WWII-era bomb was found nearby in the River Thames. The airport is situated in an area of London heavily bombed by the Germans in WWII.

All flights in and out of London City Airport were canceled Monday after a 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) unexploded World War II-era bomb was found nearby in the River Thames.

The Metropolitan Police service cleared an area within 214 meters (700 feet) of the bomb, including several residential streets, as officers worked with specialists from the Royal Navy to remove the device.

Police said the bomb was discovered Sunday at the George V Dock during pre-planned work at City Airport. They described it as a 1.5-meter (5-foot) shell that was lying in a bed of dense silt.

"The first stage of the removal operation is to free the shell from the silt so that it can be floated for removal," police said in a statement.

>> Video emerges of drone flying dangerously close to plane landing in Las Vegas

Local officials offered emergency accommodations to residents and said work to remove the bomb would continue into Tuesday.

Airport CEO Robert Sinclair said he recognizes that passengers will be inconvenienced but said the airport is cooperating fully with authorities "to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

London City, the smallest of London's international airports, handled 4.5 million passengers last year. Popular with business travelers, it's located in east London's docklands, an area that was heavily bombed during World War II.

Trending - Most Read Stories