Jacob Zuma | Biography, Age, Family, Politics, President, ANC, MK

Birth Name:Jacob Zuma
Occupation:Former President and Politician
Date of Birth12 April 1942 (age 82 years)
Place of BirthNkandla, KwaZulu-Natal
Nationality:South African
Political Party:MK Party

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, a prominent South African politician and former President of South Africa, has had a significant impact on the country’s political landscape. His life story is a complex tapestry of struggle, leadership, controversy, and resilience. This comprehensive biography delves into his early life, political career, presidency, and the controversies that have shaped his legacy.

Early Life and Background

Jacob Zuma was born on April 12, 1942, in Nkandla, a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He was born into a modest family, and his early life was marked by hardship. His father, Nobhekisisa Zuma, was a policeman who died when Jacob was young, leaving his mother, Geinamazwi Zuma, to raise him and his siblings.

Growing up in a poor household, Jacob Zuma had limited formal education. Instead, he received informal education and was self-taught, developing a keen awareness of the social and political issues facing South Africa during the apartheid era.

Early Political Involvement

Jacob Zuma’s political career began in his teenage years when he joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1959. His involvement in the anti-apartheid movement deepened when he became a member of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), in 1962. In 1963, Zuma was arrested with a group of 45 recruits near Zeerust in South Africa’s western Transvaal region. Convicted of conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, which he served on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela and other prominent anti-apartheid activists.

Exile and Rise in the ANC

After his release from prison in 1973, Zuma continued his work with the ANC. He went into exile in 1975 and became instrumental in the ANC’s operations in various African countries, including Swaziland and Mozambique. He climbed the ranks within the ANC, eventually becoming the head of intelligence, a crucial role that positioned him as a key figure in the movement.

Return to South Africa and Political Ascent

Following the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, Zuma returned to South Africa. He played a significant role in the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic South Africa. His political ascent continued as he was elected the ANC’s Deputy Secretary-General in 1991.

In 1994, after the first democratic elections in South Africa, Zuma was appointed as a Member of Parliament and later served as the MEC for Economic Affairs and Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal. His influence grew, and in 1997, he was elected Deputy President of the ANC.

Deputy President of South Africa

In 1999, Jacob Zuma was appointed Deputy President of South Africa by President Thabo Mbeki. During his tenure, he focused on various issues, including economic policy and efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa.

Legal Troubles and Dismissal

Zuma’s tenure as Deputy President was marred by legal troubles. In 2005, he was dismissed by President Mbeki after being implicated in a corruption scandal involving his financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of fraud and corruption. Zuma faced charges of corruption, which were later dropped, leading to widespread controversy and public debate.

ANC Presidency and Path to the Presidency

In 2007, Jacob Zuma’s political career took a significant turn when he was elected President of the ANC, defeating Thabo Mbeki in a highly contested race. His victory highlighted deep divisions within the ANC and set the stage for his eventual presidency.

Presidency (2009-2018)

Jacob Zuma was elected President of South Africa in 2009 after the ANC won the general elections. His presidency was characterized by several key initiatives and policies, but also by significant controversy and allegations of corruption.

  1. Economic and Social Policies: Zuma’s administration focused on economic development, job creation, and social welfare programs. However, his presidency faced challenges, including slow economic growth and rising unemployment.
  2. Controversies and Scandals: Zuma’s presidency was overshadowed by numerous scandals and allegations of corruption. The most notable include the Nkandla scandal, where public funds were used for upgrades to his private residence, and the widespread allegations of state capture involving the Gupta family.
  3. Legal Battles: Throughout his presidency, Zuma faced multiple legal challenges, including charges of corruption, fraud, and racketeering. His legal battles continued to shape his presidency and public perception.

Resignation and Post-Presidency

Under mounting pressure from within the ANC and amid growing public discontent, Jacob Zuma resigned as President of South Africa on February 14, 2018. His resignation marked the end of a tumultuous era in South African politics.

Since leaving office, Zuma has continued to face legal issues. In 2021, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after refusing to appear before a commission investigating corruption during his presidency. His imprisonment sparked protests and unrest in South Africa.

Personal Life

Jacob Zuma is known for his polygamous lifestyle, having been married multiple times and fathering numerous children. His personal life has often been a subject of public interest and scrutiny.


Jacob Zuma’s legacy is a complex and contentious one. He is remembered for his role in the anti-apartheid struggle and his contributions to South Africa’s transition to democracy. However, his presidency is also marked by significant controversy, allegations of corruption, and economic challenges. His impact on South African politics and society continues to be a topic of debate and analysis.


Jacob Zuma’s life story is one of resilience and controversy, marked by significant achievements and profound challenges. From his early involvement in the anti-apartheid movement to his presidency and subsequent legal battles, Zuma’s journey reflects the complexities of South Africa’s political landscape. As history continues to evaluate his legacy, Zuma remains a pivotal figure in the nation’s modern history.

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