Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (born 12 April 1942) is a South African politician and anti-apatheid liberation hero who served as the fourth democratically elected President of South Africa from 2009 to 2018. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ (pronounced jay-zee) and his clan name Msholozi.
Jacob Zuma is credited for the effective implementation of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and improved relations between South Africa and other African countries. His Presidency saw a rise in new black middle class, signicant improvement in wages of doctors and other civil servants as well as wider access to higher education and healthcare for the previously disadvantaged.
Zuma was born in Nkandla, Natal Province (now part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal) His father was a policeman, who died when Zuma was five, and his mother was a domestic worker. His middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “one who smiles while causing you harm” in Zulu.He received no formal schooling.
As a child, Zuma constantly moved around Natal Province and the suburbs of Durban.
Zuma began engaging in politics at an early age, and joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1959. He became an active member of Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1962, following the South African government’s banning of the ANC the previous year.
That year, he was arrested with a group of 45 recruits near Zeerust in the western Transvaal, currently part of the North West Province. Convicted of conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government, a government led by the white minority, Zuma was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, which he served on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and other notable ANC leaders also imprisoned during this time. Whilst imprisoned, Zuma served as a referee for prisoners’ association football games, organised by the prisoners’ own governing body, Makana F.A.
After his release from prison, Zuma was instrumental in the re-establishment of ANC underground structures in the Natal province. During this time Zuma joined the African National Congress’s Department of Intelligence where he later became the department’s Head of Intelligence.
Zuma first left South Africa in 1975, and met Thabo Mbeki in Swaziland, and proceeded to Mozambique, where he dealt with the arrival of thousands of exiles in the wake of the Soweto uprising. He became a member of the ANC National Executive Committee in 1977.] He also served as Deputy Chief Representative of the ANC in Mozambique, a post he occupied until the signing of the Nkomati Accord between the Mozambican and South African governments in 1984. After signing the Accord, he was appointed as Chief Representative of the ANC.
He served on the ANC’s political and military council when it was formed in the mid-1980s, and was elected to the politburo of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in April 1989.
In December 1986, the South African government requested Mozambican authorities expel six senior members of the ANC, including Zuma. As a result of the pressure applied by the apartheid government on Mozambique, he was forced to leave Mozambique in January 1987. He moved to the ANC Head Office in Lusaka, Zambia, where he was appointed Head of Underground Structures and shortly thereafter Chief of the Intelligence Department.
Zuma was also a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP); he joined in 1963, briefly serving on the party’s Politburo, and left the party in 1990.
Following the end of the ban on the ANC in February 1990, Zuma was one of the first ANC leaders to return to South Africa to begin the process of negotiations.
In 1990, he was elected Chairperson of the ANC for the Southern Natal region and took a leading role in fighting political violence in the region between members of the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). He was elected the Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC the next year, and in January 1994, he was nominated as the ANC candidate for the Premiership of KwaZulu Natal.
In December 1994, he was elected National Chairperson of the ANC and chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, and was re-elected to the latter position in 1996. He was elected Deputy President of the ANC at the National Conference held at Mafikeng in December 1997, and he was subsequently appointed executive Deputy President of South Africa in June 1999.
During this time, he also worked in Kampala, Uganda, as facilitator of the Burundi peace process, along with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni chairs the Great Lakes Regional Initiative, a grouping of regional presidents overseeing the peace process in Burundi, where several armed Hutu groups took up arms in 1993, against a government and army dominated by the Tutsi minority that they claimed had assassinated the first president elected from the Hutu majority
Zuma served as Deputy President of South Africa from 1999 to 2005,but was dismissed by President Thabo Mbeki in 2005 after Zuma’s financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of soliciting a bribe. Zuma was elected President of the African National Congress (ANC) on 18 December 2007 after defeating Mbeki at the ANC conference in Polokwane. On 20 September 2008, Mbeki announced his resignation after being recalled by the ANC’s National Executive Committee. The recall came after South African High Court Judge Christopher Nicholson ruled Mbeki had improperly interfered with the operations of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption.
Zuma led the ANC to victory in the 2009 general election and was elected President of South Africa. He was re-elected as ANC leader at the ANC conference in Mangaung on 18 December 2012, defeating challenger Kgalema Motlanthe by a large majority, and remained president of South Africa after the 2014 general election, although his party suffered a decline in support, partly due to growing dissatisfaction with Zuma as president. On 18 December 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to succeed Zuma as President of the ANC at the ANC Conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg. Subsequent months saw growing pressure on Zuma to resign as President of South Africa, culminating in the ANC “recalling” him as President of South Africa. Facing a motion of no confidence in parliament, Zuma announced his resignation on 14 February 2018, and was succeeded by Ramaphosa the next day.
Jacob Zuma leadership received several allegations of corruption
“Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma”. The Presidency. Archived from the original on 9 February 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
Gordin, J: Zuma, A Biography, page 1. Jonathan Ball, 2008.
“The Trials of Jacob Zuma”. BBC. 15 December 2017. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017.