IN the year that South Africa marks the centenary of the late Nelson Mandela’s birth, the unceremonial toppling of the disgraced Jacob Zuma is testament to the resilience of its post-apartheid constitution at this turning point in its history.
After all, the shamed 75-year-old was brought down by a democratic political process – and a free Press – that have flourished since the momentous end of white rule, and which paved the way for the African National Congress to govern.
It left Mr Zuma with no hiding place from the corruption allegations that have so besmirched his presidency and so distracted his government from confronting the country’s failing economy, and overwhelming poverty, as the hope promised by Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom – and power – ebbed away.
A defining test of Cyril Ramaphosa, sworn in as the fifth post-apartheid leader of the rainbow nation, will be his ability to hold his predecessor to account if the tide of systemic political corruption is to be confronted. With the iconic city of Cape Town expected to run out of water by April because of a drought, coupled with a burgeoning population and insufficient investment in its inadequate infrastructure, the ANC is no longer assured of the electoral support that it has enjoyed since 1994.
Having, belatedly, put an end to the alleged abuses of power undertaken by Mr Zuma and his associates, the ANC now needs to demonstrate, under President Ramaphosa, that it is worthy of the trust of all South Africans – and a world at large which realises the importance of political, and economic, stability in this still troubled country.