Former president Jacob Zuma has congratulated himself for a job well done during the nine years that he led government between 2009 and 2018.
In part three of the Zooming with Zumas YouTube reality show, Zuma said it was dishonest for anyone to describe his tenure at the Union Buildings as “nine wasted years”.
Responding to a question from his son Duduzane, who is the host of the show, Zuma highlighted five areas which he thinks were a great success under his government.
National Development Plan (NDP)
Zuma said the NDP was his brainchild to take SA to new heights.
Whether or not the NDP was being implemented the way he had envisioned was a different issue all together, he said, but what mattered was that the country had a developmental blueprint under his leadership.
“It was during this time that the country for the first time had the National Development Plan which was never there before,” said Zuma.
“It is a different matter whether we are implementing it the way I saw it but at least we have a plan, you cannot say that is waste of time.”
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Zuma believes that the government changed the education fortunes of the country dramatically under his stewardship.
The idea to split the department of education into two, one for basic education and another for higher education and training, which was introduced after the 2009 general elections was deliberate, he said.
Before this move, said Zuma, matric results were in tatters.
Said Zuma: “I introduced the basic education department because I said if the foundation of a scholar is not firm, it will be a guess whether the matric results are good or bad this year.
“Today, the issue of the matric pass is no longer a guess, it is a certainty and this is what I did. When this department was beginning to level the ground, some comrades came and said they did not agree with it at first when I introduced it, but they now agree.”
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The department of rural development was also introduced in 2009.
Zuma said the vision behind it was to improve the lives of rural folk and he believes that a lot of ground was covered in this regard.
“People who received assistance and support from this department … win in a number of areas,” he said.
“Instead of theorising about rural development, we created a specific department to deal with it.”
Distribution of ARVs
Zuma says a lot of lives were saved when government finally agreed to procure antiretrovirals (ARVs) to fight HIV after years of so-called “denialism” by his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.
“When I came in, I implemented that and changed the lives of people,” said Zuma.
“If you say these nine years were wasted, that is the biggest dishonesty.”
According to Zuma, when SA officially became a member of the Brics economic bloc of countries – comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA – there was a bigger vision to better position the country at a geopolitical level.
The creation of the Brics Development Bank, among other things, he said, was to enable SA to take loans for its development agenda with better terms and conditions than the IMF and the World Bank.
“We were moving very far with our joining the Brics grouping of countries which established a bank as big as the banks that you have [IMF and World Bank],” he said.
“If we utilised that relationship, we would not be crying about lack of funds because we knew exactly where we were going.”