Jacob Zuma hits back at Cyril Ramaphosa for 'nine wasted years' jibe

29 January 2019 - 19:24
Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC's January 8 celebrations at the JL Dube stadium in Inanda on January 8 2019
Image: THULI DLAMINI Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC's January 8 celebrations at the JL Dube stadium in Inanda on January 8 2019

Former president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday hit back at his successor President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying suggestions that his term in office was "nine wasted years" were not true.

Ramaphosa was quoted last week in Davos as having spoken about "nine wasted years" under Zuma. He was addressing potential investors.

On Tuesday afternoon Zuma tweeted a link to a Twit Longer, in which he dismissed the comments attributed to Ramaphosa.

Zuma said when ANC leaders criticised his term in office, they were "pointing the finger at themselves", in reference to the fact that Ramaphosa was his deputy. 

Zuma listed a number of his "successes", his record on fighting HIV/Aids, the drafting of the National Development Plan, the increased number of social grant recipients, the construction of two universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, and introduction of free tertiary education for poor students.

"It is with unease that we must bear witness to certain recent comments and attitudes that, if not questioned, threaten to become the prevailing wisdom and even the new status quo in the ANC. Because we are hearing, now, of the country’s 'nine wasted years', wrote Zuma.

"When referring to the past decade as 'wasted years' in this way, these critics saying so within the ANC might be quick to point out they are not only speaking in reference to me. They may even say they are pointing the finger at themselves, or at the movement in general, but I must still caution against this new trend, and not for my sake."

Then Zuma, in a clear swipe at Ramaphosa, said he had never criticised his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, when he had taken over as president.

"I never once blamed any predecessor or pointed to any perceived failing of any predecessor when I came to the leadership. I focused on what we would do and achieve in the ANC, and we focused on achieving those things."

Zuma believes it was ill-advised to "subscribe to the lie" that the past decade went to waste, especially for the ANC on the eve of the general elections.

Said Zuma: "It was the ANC in charge, and we should not be taking such a message of defeatism to those who have given us their votes, and trust.

"I do not believe we have betrayed that trust and I remain proud of much of what we and the country achieved over the past decade. Could we have done more? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes. Was it a wasted decade? No."

Among successes recorded during his reign, Zuma listed the following:

  • "South Africa today has the biggest [HIV/Aids] treatment programme in the world with more than 3.9 million people on treatment by August 2017.

  • "Life expectancy in the country increased from 58.8 years in 2007 to 64.3 in 2015, while the death rate fell.

  • "We created the National Development Plan as a central pivot around which to build our government programmes, and we established the Presidential Hotline to make government more hands-on

  • "We were number one in the world in 2017 for delivering subsidised housing for the poor, with nearly 4.5 million houses and subsidies delivered 

  • "We increased access to electricity, with many more households using electricity to cook. Access to sanitation improved. Many more households gained access to piped water and

  • "Our social grants programme was broadened to 17 million – a buffer against disaster for so many of our people and pronounced fee-free tertiary education."