A hundred years ago, Zulus’ natural leadership as a prominent warrior group was challenged by a new economical wave. The mining industry changed the correlation of forces within South Africa, giving a new leading role to the Xhosas.
The neighboring countries, especially the Mozambican shanganas, took also great advantage of that mining boom. Due to a deeply rooted superstition among Zulus and Xhosas, the poor Shanganas were the only adventuring down the mines. For a proud Zulu or Xhosa, working under the earth represents death.
Many years after, having a Zulu president represents the restitution of the historical role stolen to that tribe by economical circumstances. Thus, wanting or not, supporting Jacob Zuma is giving back the power to the “Zulu nation”. And for many, the recent incidents against working foreigners in South Africa, mainly shanganas, represent only a warning sign to the Xhosas.
In this complex correlation of forces, Zuma seems to have the support of some sectors of the boer community, maybe because the rage of the Zulus aims others than the white minority. It’s clearly some sort of alliance. Besides, Zulus’ tribal behavior has always been a good excuse to justify the existence of the apartheid.
Occidental countries support Zuma with reservations. The strong link between Zuma and the occident seems to be the Zimbabwean affair. The weakest could be the tribal factor, the foreseen instability.
Voting Zuma means big changes within an apparently unchanged political situation. It is maintaining the same ruling party, doing at the same time a major detour in the South African political landscape. With such worrying start, whatever that detour might be it deserves a close follow up.