EDINAH MASANGA | South Africa
South Africans will elect Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed her ex-husband Jacob Zuma if they wish but I have a few suggestions on what we should want and demand of her, just like any other leader.
She is among the rank and file of women we cannot blindly trust to, among other things, look out for other women and defend the poor and the powerless. We have to demand it from them. A good example will be the recent case where unhinged Zimbabwe’s First Lady Dr. Grace Mugabe was accused of assaulting, and badly injuring, a young lady for reportedly living in with her youngest son Chatunga.
Zuma did not come out strongly enough to stand in solidarity with the young lady, preferring to say a few ‘safe’ words like ‘the law should take its course’. Her response, if you ask me, was not really enough. Her response – to me – was more like a headline op. Just saying something so that there would be a record of her having said something politically correct. Even if she (Zuma) did not want to invoke the wrath of Grace Mugabe and quite understandably so, this is one case where we needed a high-ranking woman, matching the status of Grace Mugabe, to come out and condemn openly those who have power when they abuse it.
During her time as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Zuma did not at once openly scold Africa’s dictators in the strongest terms, choosing to keep a watered down approach while at the helm.
In fact, she doesn’t speak out that much at all, choosing to carefully preserve her image by staying in the background and speaking only on podiums in the carefully chosen words of a speech. But that is not the woman we need in these times. We need a fighter. Someone who will stand up to bullies like Donald Trump, someone who will speak truth to power and challenge the status quo which does not favor women at all.
Dlamini-Zuma is not even on record condemning the transgressions of her ex-husband, current president Jacob Zuma, who has been accused of rape, been implicated in a shady arms deal and has his name dragged around in high-profile corruption cases from time to time. No, she hasn’t, instead, she has stood loyally behind him, maintaining public silence over critical issues that affect women in South Africa in particular and Africa in general.
To me, Nkosazana Zuma is just another one of the powerful women we cannot trust. They are more gatekeepers of bad men than they’re a true representation of women’s empowerment.
Across the Limpopo, we have First Lady Grace Mugabe who is on the loose using rallies to scold anyone who questions her husband overstaying in power, or even her, Grace’s, grandiose which involves shopping a storm and tucking away her two troublesome sons in the opulent apartments of countries sympathetic to her husband’s dictatorship like the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, all this while Zimbabwe’s poor starve.
On her birthday in 2016, I wrote an article called “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” translated to English “Let them eat cake” which is a quote attributed to the indifference France’s Queen Marie Antoinette had to the suffering peasants, just like Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe. The parallel does not end there, it goes further, during the time of Marie Antoinette, France suffered a severe financial crisis and a plethora of problems blamed on the Queen’s lavish lifestyle but as the people suffered she spent more on herself. As they cried out for food she arrogantly responded, in the famous quote; “Let them eat cake”, which was well beyond their means, only afforded by the wealthy elite class she belonged to. A revolution ensued which later saw the Queen being executed by guillotine on 16 October in 1793.
Of course I do not wish that the First Lady be executed by a guillotine, I am simply trying to show how Grace Mugabe transformed from a trophy wife to a monster reshaping the politics of Zimbabwe with an iron fist, in the process allegedly looting the country dry to finance hers and her children’s luxurious lifestyles.
Once she got into the driving seat, pulling the rug under the nation’s feet, she orchestrated her appointment as the Chairperson of the controversially elected ruling party Zanu pf’s Women’s League – the most influential organ of the party. During this time, her son-in-law Simba Chikore, whose piloting qualifications are contested by many, shot to the top to head the nation’s airline while his wife, the first family’s only daughter Bona Mugabe was appointed to head the country’s Censorship Board. As if this is not enough for one family, Grace’s elder son from her first marriage has been accused of running over and killing a person but the case crumbled at the hands of the country’s judiciary whose independence is openly questionable.
While other people keep believing that she has no ambitions to lead the country I beg to differ. Her love of power and visible ultimate enjoyment of it as well as her tendency to want to have a final say and scold opponents show that she cannot trust anyone else to make decisions for the party other than herself. I am sure she would prefer it if she were the one at the helm, talking down to her subjects as she is already doing right now.
She is just another of the women we cannot trust to represent our interests because all they do is stand for their own interests.
Women like Grace Mugabe and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma are just two of the women we will never stand behind just because they are women. They are a bad example of what women in leadership should look like.
*Main image: Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma’s
Credit: African Union Foundation