South African President Jacob Zuma has failed to live up to the legacy of Nelson Mandela, showing poor leadership and ignoring urgent priorities, opposition parties said on Monday.
Zuma's second state-of-the-nation address last Thursday was overshadowed by revelations that the leader of Africa's biggest economy fathered a child -- his 20th -- with the unmarried daughter of a close friend. [ID:nLDE6180QM
On Monday, Zuma took notes as opposition leaders contrasted the moral rectitude and "iron will" of Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected leader, with the perceived failures of his fellow Robben Island prisoner Zuma. "President Mandela displayed exemplary leadership ... He was a man of iron will who was prepared to take on both friend and foe," Athol Trollip, parliamentary leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, said.
"Apart from being personally compromised, Mr President, you appear to owe your allegiance to a certain block within your party's alliance that makes you all the more compromised and vulnerable," Trollip said.
Zuma was elected with strong support from the ruling ANC's trade union and communist allies. Opposition parties and politicians are concerned that he must appease an increasingly vocal leftist faction trying to steer South Africa's economic policy away from its market-friendly policies.
Zuma said in his speech on Thursday that South Africa was turning the corner although the pace of economic recovery was uncertain.
Trollip said the nation of 50 million needed leadership, but respect for Zuma was vanishing since he took office under a corruption cloud.
Zuma, whose financial adviser Schabir Shaik was jailed for fraud, escaped corruption charges when prosecutors dropped long-running allegations related to a multi-billion dollar arms procurement deal.
"The tenuous respect given to you by a deeply suspicious electorate in April 2009 has been systematically eroded," said Trollip.
South Africa emerged from its first recession in 17 years in December and Zuma, who dedicated 2010 as the "year of action", is under pressure to deliver on government promises to improve housing and water provision for millions of blacks still living in poverty after apartheid ended in 1994.
A spate of violent protests has highlighted unhappiness over the lack of electricity, water and sanitation, with South African police firing rubber bullets in the latest flare-up earlier this month.
"It is an indictment on the Mandela legacy that we have become the most unequal society in the world ... Millions of South Africans have been living in an economic depression all their lives. The recession has only worsened their situation," said Patricia de Lille, leader of the Independent Democrats.
Zuma will respond to the debate on his speech on Tuesday where he is expected to answer his critics.
ReutersLast Mod: 15 Şubat 2010, 20:09