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50 People Who Matter 2010 | 36. Jacob Zuma

Rainbow warrior.

Jacob Zuma presides over two countries.

One is the largest economy in Africa, able successfully to host a World Cup costing billions. The other is a country with 25 per cent unemployment, one-third of the population living on less than $2 a day, and deep racial and economic divisions.

Zuma, a Zulu former herdboy and polygamist (soon to acquire a fourth wife), has an increasingly difficult job. Discontent is growing - exemplified by the just-ended public- sector strikes, which were often violent - and the country is still feeling the effects of recession.

Whether the "miracle" of a peaceful, post-apartheid South Africa can continue will depend on his leadership.


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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter