Donald Trump isn’t the only president to use Twitter to rail against his critics and to attempt to portray himself as a victim of trumped-up criminal charges. As ABC News reports, ousted South Africa president Jacob Zuma has taken a cue from Trump and is doing essentially the same thing – just in his own way.
There are some key differences between Trump and Zuma, of course. Zuma has actually faced criminal charges, and indeed, is facing them now; whereas Trump may yet face an indictment, but it is far from certain when (or even if) that will happen. Further, Trump’s Twitter style can be bombastic, off-the-cuff, and at times adversarial – qualities that have helped endear him to his base. Zuma’s style is more soft-spoken, even “folksy” – qualities that helped endear him to his own base.
Zuma was ousted in February 2018 after losing the support of his own party. Afterward, criminal charges that he’d been facing, but which had been shelved while he was president, were re-instated.
In some ways, Zuma’s rise to power mirrored that of another South African president, Nelson Mandela. Indeed, the two even did time at the same prison. As a free man and a rising politician, Zuma appealed to South Africa’s black majority, telling his supporters that the white rulers of the apartheid era weren’t sufficiently punished for their crimes.
JUST IN: [WATCH] Former President Jacob Zuma has taken to his Twitter account saying he will be appealing a court's ruling on his legal costs. https://t.co/VrW4kTpuQy #ZumaFees pic.twitter.com/bWI6FneGNQ— Eyewitness News (@ewnupdates) December 23, 2018
Unfortunately for Zuma, he wasn’t able to dodge criminal charges of his own. Before and during his presidency, he’s been dogged by charges of corruption – bribes, racketeering, money laundering, corruption, and fraud. He was at one time even charged with rape.
However, various South African courts have dismissed the charges, then re-instated them, then dismissed them again, then held that a sitting president can’t be criminally charged.
Now that he’s no longer president, and facing criminal charges again, Zuma has used Twitter to go on the defensive.
Since joining Twitter a month ago, Zuma has used the platform to try and drum up sympathy, with tweets such as this one, thanking his supporters.
“I wish you could see the gratitude I’m feeling because of the many who stood & still stand by me. I have always overcome difficulties, it was never me, it was ur support lifting & pushing me. I look forward to learning, educating & discovering new conversations on twitter. Inde!”
In another, he accused a critic of propagating fake news.
Zuma has also been attempting to raise money for his legal fees.