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Blade Nzimande speaking on Jacob Zuma

By BO Staff Writer

The following is an excerpt from Dr Blade Nzimande’s review of President Jacob Zuma’s biography by Jeremy Godin in 2009.

“For me when I first met JZ [Jacob Zuma] in 1990, I honestly thought that his laughter was fake and pretension, and may perhaps be confirming his name Gedleyihlekisa. It was only after months that I realized that it is a genuine laugh, coming from deep down his heart.

I have also come to understand JZ as someone who bears no grudges, and accept debate and different views, even to his own, without bursting out or even labelling those who hold contrary views. I myself have in the past had differences with Cde Zuma. I recall we were on the different sides of the debate on how to deal with the counter-revolutionary violence of the IFP and the apartheid regime in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1990s. I was amongst those who were extremely suspicious and uncomfortable about what we saw as Zuma’s overemphasis on talks with the IFP at the expense of self-defence for our communities. But it was due to those robust debates that we all came to understand that it was not an ‘either or’ issue, but the question of an appropriate balance between the two.

Again in the mid 1990s, the regional executive committee of the ANC in the Natal Midlands was divided around Sifiso Nkabinde, after we had been reliably informed in the early 1990s that Nkabinde was working for apartheid`s notorious special branch. Zuma called us into a number of meetings to try and resolve our differences. I remember telling him rather angrily (at the time I was already a member of the ANC NEC) why was he forcing a discussion on Nkabinde instead of ensuring that he is expelled as some of us were arguing. It was much later, after the expulsion of Nkabinde, in a quiet engagement with him that he told us that it was important to try and forge unity for a while, as we could not afford a serious division inside the ANC when faced with intense violence from the IFP. Indeed this was an important tactical consideration that played an important role in bringing about peace in the KZN province.

Contrary to condescending characterization of the ANC president, the latest being that by author Heidi Holland, referring to him as an ‘ideological barbarian’, Zuma is an ‘organic intellectual’,”

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