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Zuma as president: a rocky era for the new S.Africa

Published on 11/02/2016

South African President Jacob Zuma delivers his annual state of the nation address Thursday as frustration grows over his leadership and the country's lack of progress since apartheid ended more than 20 years ago.

Zuma’s critics accuse him of allowing a small black elite to enrich itself, failing to help the poor, and overseeing national economic decline as South Africa struggles to overcome the legacy of decades of white-minority rule.

His term is due to end in 2019.

Here are some of the key dates of his presidency:

– April 2009 –

The African National Congress (ANC), which led the struggle against apartheid, wins elections and party leader Jacob Zuma becomes president. Shortly before the election, all corruption charges are dropped against him.

– July 2010 –

South Africa hosts a succesful FIFA World Cup, receiving widespread praise as the first African nation to hold the event — one of the biggest and most challenging sporting occasions in the world.

– December 2010 –

Zuma announces a new AIDS policy and a national programme to distribute antiretroviral drugs. The move is hailed as a major breakthrough against the disease after much-criticised “denialism” by his predecessor president Thabo Mbeki.

– August 2012 –

Police shoot dead 34 striking miners in the worst violence involving the security forces since the end of apartheid, shocking South Africa and shaking confidence in the nation’s post-racial settlement.

– July 2013 –

Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema forms the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party in the first major split from the all-powerful ruling party. The EFF develops into an effective leftist opposition party.

– December 2013 –

Zuma is booed in front of a global television audience and world dignitaries, including Barack Obama, at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto football stadium, highlighting public anger at the performance of the South African president and the ANC party.

– March 2014 –

South Africa’s top anti-corruption agency issues a damning report into public funds used to upgrade Zuma’s private rural homestead, saying he “benefited unduly” from work that cost 216 million rand (then $24 million). The case becomes an emblem of greed and corruption.

– May 2014 –

The ANC wins general elections, carrying Zuma into a second term in office. The party comes far ahead in the national vote, but still records its lowest share since non-racial elections began.

– December 2015 –

Growing concern over South Africa’s economic woes is underlined when Zuma sacks two finance ministers within a few days, triggering a collapse in the rand as worried investors pull out of the country.