Close button
The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter WhatsApp

‘Parties in Nigeria need to learn from South Africa’


Prof. Bola Akinterinwa

Former director general of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and now President/Director General of Bolytag Centre for International Diplomacy and Strategic Studies (BOCIDASS), Prof Bola Akinterinwa, spoke to DEBO OLADIMEJI on the resignation of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa last week and the lessons for other African countries.

Following the resignation of Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s President, can we say former President Thabo Mbeki was right by saying he was corrupt?

The event in South Africa should not be confused with individual- driven events. Right from the time of Mbeki, the situation in South Africa has been about two main issues.


The first issue is how to make the dismantling of apartheid complete, because to a great extent, the economy is still being controlled by the white, even though the black are in the majority. If they have to vote one million times in South Africa, black will still remain largely in the majority.

However, the minority white controls essentially the economy on which the political governance is based.

Zuma has his own problems as an individual. It is on record that over 900 allegations have been leveled against him. He was taken to court in some of the cases, but was discharged and acquitted.

Was that not the same problem that Mbeki foresaw when he was against Zuma succeeding him?

You are right. Mbeki looked at the person of Zuma, as an individual, and on that basis, came up with the submission that Zuma could not be a good leader. Mbeki did not say and couldn’t have said that the people who will work with Zuma as President will not be upright, because we have to distinguish between the two.

The critical point of observation is that Zuma, as an individual, had the problem; his own attitudinal disposition and his manner of living is the problem. He was the one driving or piloting political governance. His collaborators have not been indicted. 

So, in this case, if Mbeki foresaw that Zuma won’t do well and he is now being put right, it is simply because he had looked at his person, his capacity and capability to govern well.


If you have acceptable character, does it means that you have acceptable integrity? They are two different things, but when you have integrity, it is believed that character is already inherent in it. Integrity is about reliability. When you say you are a man of integrity, it means that you have a good character and you must not be on record to have a chameleonic character.

So, within the framework of South Africa, Mbeki has integrity; he was not accused of any unacceptable mania. He even came up with the philosophy of self-reliance that promotes African values and he tried to collaborate with Nigerians.

In essence, the resignation of Zuma should be understood in many contexts. It will remove him as an individual, but the institutions and political party are still there. That was why ANC was able to stand its ground and say he must go, even if he was a former fighter against apartheid, like the late Nelson Mandela.

Political parties in Nigeria need to learn a strong lesson from the ANC in South Africa. Nigerian political parties cannot and will not compelled any President elected on their platforms to resign, because it is a case of if you rub my back, I rub yours.


The other dimension is that having compelled Zuma to resign, ANC can be seen to have a good name and was not condoling Zuma’s excesses.

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma’s deputy, was to enable the continuation of the tenure in the next one year, the same way Robert Mugabe left and the Vice President took over.

There are things in common between Zimbabwe and South Africa when you are looking at the resignations of Mugabe and Zuma. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe wanted his wife to succeed him.

In South Africa, if the opportunity were to be given, Zuma would have preferred that his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, succeeded him.

So, can we now say Zuma took South Africans for granted?

Zuma certainly assumed that his political party and followers would continue to be wrapped up in the glory of his anti-apartheid struggle.

Zuma made one statement in his letter of resignation, saying some people in developed countries, the white people and the opponents of South Africa are always very happy when they see black people lynched one another and they celebrate. He was just trying to tell the ANC and his people that they were making a mockery of themselves.

When we take a closer look at his speech, Zuma did not believe that he had done anything wrong to warrant being compelled to resign and added that he was prepared to play active part in the foreseeable future.

Don’t you think that Zuma only fell into the traps of his enemies?
Any leaders cannot but have supporters and have opponents; it is natural. When Zuma was to come to power, some voted for him, some voted against him. So, there is no way those opposed to him will not expect his failure.

Are you saying that the white in South Africa are using economic power to control political power?

Are the people having economic power in Nigeria not dictating to others?

The whites in South Africa are essentially the instruments of industrial growth. They have the money, technology and knowledge.
At the end of the day, the black will have to sit down and rethink if this is the type of South Africa Mandela would have loved to see.

ANC may be the biggest party, a black man’s party essentially, though there are whites members too. I think Mandela, if he were to be alive today, wouldn’t expect to see a non-ANC to be in command of governance in South Africa. Yes, he would want continuity of ANC leadership.

A counter-argument is that there is no way he would have condoned or aided or abated a South African President that is sharply corrupt in all manners and ramifications. Mandela would love a South Africa that is constructively developed and counted among leading nations of the world. But South Africa under Zuma negated that dream.

But when you look at the internal level, why should Mandela be happy about xenophobia? He believed in the dignity and promotion of African values, but after him, you can see that South African people are much against other Africans.
Should we blame Zuma for xenophobia?

Did it not happen under him? If you agree that it happened under him, the first question to ask is, how many times did it happen? If it happened more than one time, what stopped the administration of Zuma from preventing reoccurrences?

In this article:
NigeriaSouth Africa
Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

No comments yet