Cape Town – Former president Jacob Zuma has hit back at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week in which he described the reign of his predecessor as “nine lost years”.
In an op-ed posted to his Twitter account, Zuma said all that he had done and continues to do was for the ANC and that he did not see himself distinct from the party which had liberated millions of Africans.
He also listed his achievements as South African president since he took charge from Kgalema Motlanthe in May 2009.
“So it is with unease that we must bear witness to certain recent comments and attitudes that, if not questioned, threaten to become the prevailing wisdom and even the new status quo in the ANC,” said Zuma.
In remarks at a dinner in Davos, addressing cabinet ministers and those attending the forum, Ramaphosa said: “We have the loss of nine years to make up”.
These nine years coincide with the presidency of Zuma who stint at the saw a breakdown in the fight against corruption which is the focus of the Inquiry into State Capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Zuma said while those who referred to the “wasted years” might defend themselves, and say they were not just referring to him, and perhaps be pointing the finger at themselves and the ANC in general.
“I must still caution against this new trend, and not for my sake.
“We are in an election year and it is not advisable for us to subscribe to the lie that the past decade has been a completely wasted one. It was the ANC in charge, and we should not be taking such a message of defeatism to those who have given us their votes, and trust,” said Zuma.
He insisted that the ANC has not betrayed the trust of voters and he remained proud of much of what the party and the country achieved in the past 10 years.
“When I became ANC president in 2007, we needed to deal with the immediate challenge of HIV/Aids decimating our people. Today, millions of lives have been saved and transformed and we no longer see and read about “Aids babies” who die before their fifth birthday. South Africa today has the biggest treatment programme in the world with more than 3.9 million people on treatment by August 2017,” said Zuma.
He added that life expectancy increased from 58.8 years in 2007 to 64.3 in 2015, while the death rate fell.
“South Africa remains a country of deep social challenges and poverty, but we spent the past decade working to change that, and there is much to be proud of today,” Zuma wrote.
He referred to the creation of the National Development Plan, and the establishment of the Presidential Hotline “to make government more hands-on”.
Zuma said the 2016 General Household Survey had shown the strides we made in providing and improving basic services to South Africans.
“We were number one in the world in 2017 for delivering subsidised housing for the poor, with nearly 4.5 million houses and subsidies delivered,” said Zuma.
He said a culture of defeatism and near-despondency had crept into the ANC after its failure to win Joburg and Tshwane at the 2016 local government elections.
He blamed the loss on some in the ANC Gauteng’s leadership who had rejected him and treated with embarrassment
“They did not want me to campaign for them in Gauteng – and they did not win any major metro. Even Ekurhuleni is governed now through coalition,” said Zuma.