Mark Burnette, photographer
Dr. Cedric Suzman earned an MBA from Harvard and taught at
Georgia Tech. Currently he is on staff of the Southern Center
for International Studies as the Vice President and Director
of Programming. He spoke about the current political situation
in South Africa.
Dr. Suzman is delighted that the Decatur Rotary is weighing
a partnership with the East London Rotary Club in the field of
The glass is always half empty or half full with South
Africa. He is optimistic about the past 15 years. The African
National Congress earned close to a two-thirds majority in the
last election, and placed Jacob Zuma in the presidency.
Despite unhappiness in much of the country, Zuma is the
leader. The largest opposition party (Democratic Alliance)
generated 12 to 16 percent in support. An emergent party of
dissatisfied citizens called COPE (Congress of the People)
only got 7.4 percent of the vote. A Zulu-led party got an even
smaller percentage, which is a sign that tribal politics have
taken a back seat to national concerns. There was little
violence to speak of during the election. S. Africa can boast
a good democratic process and practice.
So, Jacob Zuma replaced President Tabo Umbeke even though
Zuma was indicted for corruption and later faced rape charges.
The corruption charges were thrown out on a technicality, but
may reemerge at the highest level of the court.
Zuma has established four priorities for the federal
government. They are: AIDS, Crime, Unemployment, and Zimbabwe.
Approximately 5.7 million people in S. Africa are infected
with HIV. Eighteen percent of adults age 18 to 49 are
infected. This is more than double the rate in Nigeria, which
is more populous. Zuma appointed Barbara Hogan as Minister of
Health, and she is initiating good programs. Violent crime
rates are among the highest in the world. This has affected
foreign investment and immigration, not to mention local
victims. Related to crime is the 40 percent rate of
unemployment of adults in their 20s and 30s. In the last two
years, the Black middle class has increased, which is a good
sign. At the same time, it is conspicuous that the job
creation is from the top down rather than the bottom up. A
"white paper" on infrastructure investment hopes to produce
two million jobs by 2014. Dr. Suzman said that these might be
interpreted as good signs: Zuma has a solid cabinet; is
surrounded by people of integrity; and hopefully he can resist
and avoid the trap of hubris. Regarding Zimbabwe, President
Robert Mugabe has destroyed the land that all of Africa
considers the Bread Basket of the continent. Diseases like
cholera and AIDS/HIV, civil unrest and strife, political
mismanagement of power, and extreme poverty have decimated the
country. five million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa.
Little has been done to pressure Mugabe to step aside.
Bring Me My Macine Gun: The Battle for the Soul of
South Africa from Mandela to Zuma by Alec Russell was
donated to the DeKalb Library System in honor of our