Defaming President Jacob Zuma

As submitted to The Daily Maverick

We would all prefer to be able to respect the President of South Africa, but he certainly doesn’t make it easy for us. I’m aware that – as Ray Hartley pointed out in a Times Live editorial last week – some South Africans may believe that Jacob Zuma’s elected position demands respect, because he is something more than an average or typical citizen.

But there is no necessary symmetry between respecting an office and respecting the person who happens to hold that office. And whatever symmetry might exist is counterbalanced by the responsibility those in high office hold to set an example for the rest of the country – not in their private lives, where I’m happy for them to do what they like, but rather in how they think it appropriate to relate to criticism, and how they choose to deploy the resources available to them.