Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma is the President of South Africa. 

South Africa has been much in the news this summer because of the World Cup being played there; in today's quarterfinals Germany crushed Argentina and Spain beat Paraguay.  This means that even though four Latin American countries made it to the quarters, only one (Uruguay) goes on to the semis.

Here's my post from last August about Hillary Clinton being enthusiastic about Zuma's change-in-approach (from that of Thabo Mbeki, his predecessor) towards fighting AIDS.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault has a profile of Zuma in this week's New Yorker.  Hunter-Gault's article, and some of the TV coverage I've seen in connection with the World Cup, make it sound as though South Africa is an incredibly divided society: if no longer racially so, then economically. In contrast to Mbeki, Zuma portrays himself as a populist and a defender of the poor, but most analysts say that he's doing very little to actually improve their plight. During Zuma's Presidency, the unemployment rate has reached as high as 25%.

Hunter-Gault illustrates his lack of an agressive economic policy by focusing on a neighborhood called Orange Farm, which sounds like a large slum area outside of Johannesburg.  The residents of Orange Farm are disappointed that Zuma has not focused more on infrastructure or jobs development for their area.

Zuma is a polygamist; he has five wives and defends the practice to Hunter-Gault by saying that many men practice a sort of covert polygamy by having affairs; his way, argues Zuma, is more honest.

Zuma's term as President runs until 2013.  Interestingly, his primary potential rival is a man named Trevor Manuel (the0 head of the National Planning Commission), and Hunter-Gault says that Manuel may be practically prevented from ascending the Presidency because he is mixed race.

Here's a picture of Trevor Manuel.  He was South Africa's Finance Minister under Mandela and Mbeki.

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