15/02/2018 13:51 SAST | Updated 15/02/2018 13:51 SAST

Jacob Zuma: 'Here’s How I Did!'

HuffPost SA fact-checks.

Former president Jacob Zuma.
Alet Pretorius /Getty Images
Former president Jacob Zuma.

Former president Jacob Zuma's team put out a legacy statement overnight hailing his achievements while in office. HuffPost did a quick fact-check of these.


What would have been President Jacob Zuma's final state of the nation address was rapidly changed into his legacy statement overnight. How did he do in his formal work of government? Not too badly. If Zuma had not had a shadow presidency of looting and capture, his legacy would not look as dastardly as it does today.

Claim 1

Zuma led efforts in delivering the people of South Africa from the bondage of poverty, hunger, inequality, joblessness, racism.

Check: True and False

Poverty and hunger levels declined as social grant payments went up.

Inequality, joblessness and racism all increased in the past eight years, according to national statistics. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation has found repeatedly that levels of social cohesion (a code word for race relations) have worsened.

Claim 2

Introduced long-term planning as well as the mainstreaming of monitoring and evaluation.

Check: True and False

This is technically true, as the National Development Plan (NDP) was completed under Zuma's tenure and the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation instituted as a unit of the presidency.

The jury is out on the positive impact of both innovations. The NDP has never been fully implemented, and monitoring and evaluation are still largely done by civil society, not by government.

Claim 3

Started a presidential hotline for direct citizen interaction.

Check: True. It works and works well.

Claim 4

Delivered 4.5-million houses and subsidies.

Check: True, but it's across all four post-apartheid presidents, not only Zuma

Zuma makes similar claims for electricity connections, sanitation and access to water, but he claims all gains since 1994. This is quite a sneaky thing to do.

Claim 5

Social assistance to 17-million people through various social grants.

Check: True, but again this is a platform built since 1994, not since 2009 when Zuma became president. His administration has, however, significantly grown the social solidarity system.

Claim 6

Massive infrastructure boost as R1-trillion was invested in Zuma's administration into national infrastructure projects like boosting electricity supply, roads, rail, harbours and the like.

Check: True. But we now know that the infrastructure budget became like the Gupta family's personal piggybank. It's fair for Zuma to claim significant kudos on infrastructure, though.

Claim 7

The expanded public works programme has created more than 2-million work opportunities since 2014 out of a targeted 6-million by March 2019.

Check: True. The public works programme is an undervalued support programme in our popular discourse. Of course, it also reflects a massive and intractable unemployment rate.

Claim 8

Zuma claims various gains after he introduced a Nine-Point Plan in the state of the nation address of 2017.

Check: False. The economy went into serious decline despite the unveiling of the plan, and the gains Zuma claims are tiny and have not had an impact on growth.

Claim 9

Zuma prioritised the land question and ensured that expropriation without compensation resolution was passed at the party conference at Nasrec in December 2017.

The department of rural development and land reform was established in 2009 as a standalone department.

Check: False. It's true the resolution was passed and that there is a department, but a land audit to gauge land reform and restitution was years late. When it was published, it was deficient as a benchmark and revealed slow progress. Zuma only prioritised land at the level of rhetoric, and not in practice.

Claim 10

Life expectancy increased from 58.8 years in 2007 to 64.3 years in 2015.

Check: True. In turning the state from the Aids denialism to a system of prevention and treatment, Zuma can claim credit for reducing the death hump HIV had caused.

Claim 11

Established two new universities: the Sol Plaatjie University in Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga in Mpumalanga.

Check: True

Expanded free education, improved school infrastructure and increased the national student financial aid scheme

Check: True. But the quality of education has got significantly worse, as international reading benchmarks show.

Claim 12

Prioritised links on the African continent. Deployed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Check: True

Founder member of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (Brics) bloc of emerging economies.

Check: True

Pivoted South Africa to East from the West. Links with China are valuable.

Check: True