A profile of South Africa’s most scandalous president

On Wednesday, Jacob Zuma bowed to pressure from his political party, the African National Congress (ANC) by stepping down as president of the Republic of South Africa. His resignation announcement marked the end of his political dominance – a power which began five decades back when he joined the ANC in the fight against apartheid.

Zuma, 75 , born in Inkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa was the son of a policemen who died during World War II. He was raised by his mother who was a domestic worker.  He spent his childhood moving between Zululand and the suburbs of Durban and didn’t have any formal education.

The history of South Africa and its apartheid struggle will not be complete without mentioning Zuma. Zuma was heavily influenced by a trade unionist family member  which saw him becoming a  member of the ANC at 17 years. At 21 years he was arrested  and convicted of conspiring to overthrow the government. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment which he served on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was also incarcerated. After his release he left South Africa for Mozambique where he ran ANC military training camps. This saw him rise to becoming the head of internal intelligence and security. After the apartheid ended he returned to South Africa and was elected to chair the party.

Zuma gained notoriety after his financial advisor was convicted of corruption and fraud. This led to his dismissal as Deputy President of South Africa in June 2005 during Thabo Mbeki’s regime. Two weeks after corruption charges against him were dropped, Zuma became president of South Africa.

His tenures both as post ANC president and as president of South Africa are very controversial and a peep into his is career is scary.

18 count charges

Zuma is charged with 18 crimes and they include charges of  corruption, fraud, laundering and racketeering. These allegations are based on more than 700 payments made between 1995 and 2000s. These charges relates to a multi million dollar arms deal.


In 2010 Zuma received widespread backlash for fathering his 20th child with a mistress. Zuma, a polygamist with five wives, impregnated the daughter of his friend, Irvin Khoza, and was accused of being of bad behavior in a country with the world’s highest HIV/AIDS infection. Irvin Khoza’s daughter Sonono Khoza is now Zuma’s 6th wife and mother of his 20th child.

Purchase of cars for wives

Zuma was accused of purchasing 11 cars for his four wives worth $550,000 using monies from the police funds in three years. In 2013, Range Rovers worth $60,000 each were bought for his wives. In 2014 two Land Rover Discovery valued at $40,000 each were purchased, In March 2016,  two Audi Q7s bought for $40,000 and three Audi A6s also bought for $50,000 each were also acquired.


He is been accused of an unacceptable relationship with the wealth Gupta Family. He was accused of allowing the Gupta family benefit from the government by making then handle many government contracts and selecting government officials that would be appointed by Zuma in order to help their businesses.

Rape charges

In 2016 before Zuma took office he was acquitted of a rape charge brought by HIV-positive family friend Fezeka Kuzwayo. During the trial a lot of people were shocked when he said that he had taken a shower to avoid contracting HIV. Although he testified that the affair with Fezeka was a consensual sex.

Nkandla home

He was accused of using $24 million  of  taxpayers money to renovate his private home in Nkandla. He was ordered to repay the money by a constitutional court and was rebuked by the justice for failing to uphold the constitution.

Cabinet Reshuffling

The second term of Zuma was known for late night reshuffling. During his tenure as the president he reshuffled his cabinet 11 times. The one that struck the world the most was when he sacked finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 and replaced him with David Des van Rooyen. Following the sack South African Bond and Rand fell  and he was forced to bring back Pravin Gordhan who worked with him from 2014 to 2017.  In March 2017, he sacked Gordhan and his deputy at treasury, Mcebisi Jonas. This led to a negative rating of the south African economy.

Prior to Zuma’s resignation he survived three votes of no confidence from the Parliament. He is the most embattled South African president since independence.