Expressions of neo-traditional patriarchal power in the speeches of President Zuma

  • Liesel Hibbert


A retrospective view of South African President Jacob Zuma’s delivery portfolio provides evidence of unfulfilled promises and continued erosion of democratic principles and practices enshrined in the constitution. In the election address of 6 May 2009, as well as the inaugural speech of 9 May 2009, one notes a much more inward-looking, ‘man of the people’ approach than that of his predecessor, President Mbeki, who advocated pan-Africanism as the foremost priority. In President Zuma’s election speech of 6 May 2009, he constantly foregrounds local affiliations and references to his own positive personal qualities, addressing exclusively the ANC majority votership, while at his inauguration he addresses the entire nation. There is a visibly distinct shift from extreme subjective authorship in the election speech to attempted objectivity in the inaugural address, as the signs of the individual authorial presence are reduced in the inaugural speech, in order to attempt a more inclusive rhetoric. Furthermore, his State of the Nation address of 2011 is characterised by an overriding theme of self-praise, other-blaming and veiled threats. In summary then, President Zuma’s speeches signal a radical shift from Africanism and pan-Africanism and from the agenda of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), to neo-traditional, patriarchal notions of governance.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614