President Jacob Zuma launched yet another attack on the South African democratic process during a Presbyterian Synod in Giyani yesterday where he stated: “If you don’t respect those in leadership, if you don’t respect authority then you are bordering on a curse”.
Comments like this have no place in a constitutional democracy characterized by transparency and accountability. President Zuma seems intent on stigmatizing legitimate oversight over his government by calling those who disagree with him unpatriotic, disrespectful, and in this case, cursed.
But this is nothing new. In the past year, President Zuma has launched regular attacks on the opposition and the media for daring to question or to hold him to account for his many leadership failures. Comments like these show once again that President Zuma sees himself more as king than as a servant of the people:
- Earlier this year, during the Presidency Budget Vote in Parliament in which MPs were performing their oversight role by asking questions about the state of the South African economy, President Zuma accused the opposition of being ‘unpatriotic’
- In June this year he demanded respect from opposition parties when he has done little to earn it. He said: “They can’t understand. No respect, nothing. What are we teaching the citizens that voted for us?”
If President Zuma wants to build himself a palace and be exempt from scrutiny then he has chosen the wrong vocation. It would seem that he aspires to be a monarch, rather than a president.
In our democracy, we have a president not a king. A president is elected to serve the people, not himself. A president must earn the respect of every citizen.