Former Cabinet minister Trevor Manuel has often contemplated why Jacob Zuma’s presidency was allowed to last for as long as it did – and he thinks Parliament may be partly to blame.
“The question I asked and asked, and a lot of other people would also, is: Why did we tolerate it (misrule) for as long as we did?” he told News24, after attending a memorial service for slain Rosalie Bloch and Aubrey Jackson in Cape Town on Thursday afternoon.
“There is no easy answer.”
Zuma’s tenure as president of the country lasted for nine years.
Manuel maintained that he did his best to ask Parliament to conduct oversight and pleaded with MPs from different parties to look at their roles and responsibilities differently.
“That’s the heart of the failure we are living in, [it] is a Parliament that went to sleep for too long.”
Manuel unapologetically spoke out earlier this week when he said Zuma’s presidency was a total disaster for South Africa.
He had been detailing his tenure under Zuma in a keynote address at the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust Public Lecture at the University of the Western Cape.
On Thursday, he explained that the biggest disaster was Zuma’s “corruption”.
He could not understand how some people were appointed into positions and what they were expected to do.
Ministers did not sit in every Cabinet meeting and give a detailed report of what they were doing as there was an expectation that they would do their jobs.
“The Constitution expects that people of a much higher calibre will serve and serve in the interest of service to humanity.”
Manuel added that Zuma’s misrule would be felt for some time.
“It is going to impact on the quality of life for the poorest South Africans.”
He believed the commission of inquiry into state capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, was going to play an important role.
“Hopefully, there will be teams of smart prosecutors standing right by to pick up what emerges from the state of capture commission and hopefully, there will be bodies of work by other commissions who extend this, because we must get into every local authority and province,” he said.
“It (the mandate) needs to be broadened and deepened and the response must be swift.”