Goodbye Mister Zuma, it’s been …. unsettling

I am trying to work out if Jacob Zuma is condemned to be a one term president; shuffled off the stage by a shamefaced ANC leadership as soon as humanly possible.

I think he will be, unless he is saved by a titanic power-struggle that is not settled in time for the 2012 ANC national conference and centenary. That way he might blunder on, apparently happily, until 2017. Heaven forbid.

There was something endearing about our president’s deep chuckle at Davos last week after he defended his polygamy:

That’s my culture. It does not take anything from me, from my political beliefs, including the belief in the equality of women. (Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle)

But ‘endearing’ became ‘tragic’ when three short days later the Sunday papers brought us the slightly belated news of another happy event in Jacob Zuma’s life: the birth of a baby daughter to proud mum Sonono Khoza, daughter of Iron Duke Irvin Khoza.

I am forced to assume the story is true; that Jacob Zuma is the father of  Thandekile Matina Zuma. He has neither denied nor confirmed the rumour but his record in this department would make it unsurprising that the number of his (known) offspring rises from 19 to 20.

There is little that needs be said about this matter, except maybe: Sonono is 39, her sister died of AIDS; Jacob Zuma is 67, the president of South Africa and  the guy who infamously took a shower after having unprotected sex with another young woman, someone who was HIV positive, someone who immediately went on to accuse him of raping her.  He married his fifth wife in January – bringing the number of current wives to 3. Enough.

Those who conspired to oust Thabo Mbeki by backing the then beleaguered Zuma must be feeling queasy about how this first term is going.

Mbeki spent much of 2006 and 2007 arguing (never directly but always strongly) that this man appeared to have his pants around his ankles and his hands in the till; he was just not the right sort of chap to inherit the mantle that had been passed down from Mbeki himself, from Madiba, from OR Tambo and a host of other legendary leaders.

Zuma’s Polokwane backers, that peculiar alliance of traditional ANC democrats, trade unionists, criminals who Mbeki had cleaned out of the state and BEE aspirants who wanted their bite at the cherry, decided to ignore the evidence of Zuma’s  moral turpitude and take the gap he presented.

I wonder if those who genuinely wanted to improve governance or fix the ANC’s internal democracy and those who believed Mbeki had failed the poor consider this path we are on, on balance and after all is said and done, to be worth it?

None of the things that apparently so concerned them has been fixed. Most problems have deepened and the most serious problems, especially the rise to dominance of vampire capitalism and corruption, are significantly worse today than they were under Mbeki.

The trends might have been heading this direction anyway, but we feel adrift: leaderless and defenceless against the predations of the hordes of pirates who came along for the Polokwane ride.

So do not look to the president for the strength – of politics, ideology or character – to lead us through this swamp.

Take a trip through the blogs and discussions about this matter in the popular media. It seems that aside from satisfying his own needs and whims, Zuma has achieved one thing: he has become grist to the mill of racists and Afro-pessimists everywhere.

They love him, in a complicated and twisted way, because for them he confirms their deepest fears and hatreds.

And for this, we are all significantly poorer.

15 thoughts on “Goodbye Mister Zuma, it’s been …. unsettling

  1. Thought-provoking piece on Don Juan de Zuma and his single-handed quest to save the human race from extinction. Maybe his trouble-shooters should book him into a sex addiction clinic with Tiger Woods. Then he can blame his ridiculously uncontrolled amorous conduct on inherent vice and, considering the prevailing orientation in our society that you only need to open your mouth to be exonerated, regardless of what streams from the aforementioned hole, the Don will be all statesman again. Will one of your future pieces feature your thoughts on a possible second term successor (will this perhaps give Tokyo Sexwale a gap?) if the Don does not pull up his pants (and, while he is at it, his socks)? Will it be reactionary and therefore determined by the moral profile (I do not hold my breath) of the contenders?

    1. Good one Rudy, thanks for that. I am certain that the big push within The Alliance – the force that is driving things as disparate as the ANCYL’s latest nationalisation calls, the campaign against the communists and especially against Mantashe, the pressure on the Gauteng premier … and a host of other stuff – is the presidential bid of our very own version of Silvio Berlusconi: Tokyo Sexwale. In the coded language of our politics, the constant warnings about the Kebblisation of our politics from the SACP is actually a warning about the growing influence – largely bought – of Tokyo.

  2. Nic,
    Your article, Goodbye Mr Z, was thoughtful and maybe even… tender. And well written.

    Here is an intriguing ANCYL statement:
    http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page295025?oid=344012&sn=2009+Detail

    It’s principally on the nationalisation of mines, but I refer to the bullets in last section, “Building the organisation” (go and read it first).

    Errrm… surely not? And after all that strong, manly talk about nationalising mines etc., seems like the ANCYL is a feminist organisation after all!

    I can just imagine it now:
    “How do we pick up more youthful membership, Comrade? We are all over 25 and therefore not really youths anymore.”
    “Well, we the ANCYL NEC have determined that Comrade Julius shall visit schools and chuck out handfuls of comrade condoms to prevent HIV.”
    “But what about the girls, comrades? What can we give them for – down there?”
    “Um – ANC branded sanitary towels?”

    Or maybe the ANC has just run out of T-shirts?

    1. “Take a trip through the blogs and discussions about this matter in the popular media. It seems that aside from satisfying his own needs and whims, Zuma has achieved one thing: he has become grist to the mill of racists and Afro-pessimists everywhere.”
      …ummm… if the average Times Online or Politicsweb comment is anything to go by, PW Botha remains in charge, smiling from his naked (and transparent) persona perched on a make-believe throne.
      To a very large number of South Africans the whole polygamy thing really doesn’t matter – at least it brings a breath of honesty to social discourse. One of the great pleasures of living in Mzantsi is that we don’t haunt our ‘celebrities’ into sex addiction clinics. We just face up to human (male) realities. (And when they’re idiots like Joost we alternately ridicule and ignore them.) Really, this is such a silly issue; a lot of women, in particular, do feel very uncomfortable about polygamy (most whites just don’t get it, even in abc-terms), but fact is its just an uncomfortable and distorted legacy of our Christian-Settler deconstruction of local – African – culture.
      As for the more serious political (non-) impacts alluded to in the article – its too early to conclude.

  3. Andre, is it really a silly issue? “We face up to human (male) realities”, you say and make it off as deconstruction of African culture. I share your intolerance of racists, Afro pessimists and detractors of African culture. Ultimately though culture based arguments may certainly not trump the collective interests of our society. This is our head of state, not an inconsequential has been sportsman. He is God to many who may follow his example whilst they do not have his resources to compensate to an extent for the inability to “be there” for every child. Unlike the notions of every child’s right to parental care and the paramountcy of the rights of children, the concept “male realities” does not appear in our Constitution. Poligamy is one thing, but twenty children in the context of the harsh realities of our society? Silly indeed.

  4. I smell a whiff of intellectual dishonesty in what has been said in this debate .

    Clue : The UN’S pronouncements on overpopulation

    Intellectual dishonesty is dishonesty in performing intellectual activities like thought or communication. Examples are:

    the advocacy of a position which the advocate knows or believes to be false or misleading
    the conscious omission of aspects of the truth known or believed to be relevant in the particular context.

  5. Sorry guys. Group of perceptions based on ill informed premises. Now
    let a real brother fill you in.

    Traditionally, marriage is not based on the ludicrous Romeo and Juliet
    type of “love” ( we all know it ended in tragedy)

    Marriage is about an alliance of families, hence pre-arranged
    marriages used to be practiced. Friend would arrange their childrens
    marriages. Zuma is hardly a child so he can handle that himself with
    the CONSENT OF HIS 1ST WIFE. It was also meant to legitimise the
    sexual chemistry that individuals had for one another as well as any
    offspring that might pop out as a result. As a family is the basic
    unit of any community, alliances thru marriage meant broadening the
    family unit, economically, politically and socially. You do not fight
    destructively with your relatives. Man have always been outnumbered so
    it made sense for polygamous relationships to exist or there would
    have been a number of sexually frustrated females out there. (We all
    know the dangers of that). Many children meant a bigger family thus
    multiplying any benefits to be gained from a big family. (Something
    most soulless European based cultures know nothing about currently.)

    Every culture I know has accommodation for children born out of
    wedlock. Zulu/Nguni culture considers children to be a blessing from
    the ancestors. Zuma and the mother of his to-be-born child know that
    the gift of life is not an issue for self-actualised culturally
    dislocated individuals to be debating about.

    In the end that child will be an endless source of joy, pride and
    consanguineous intercourse. Those families directly involved are not
    having the types of kangaroo courts that outsiders are involving their
    names in. Even the concept of a vasectomy (sic) is so blasphemous to
    the Nguni way for life that lesser beings who would even try to bring
    it up would be laughed out of existence.

    99% of those who condemn him for having unprotected sex are probably
    not using protection with their partners themselves (single or
    multiple). Multiple partners does not equals HIV/AIDS. Not all women
    have the need nor wish to subscribe to time wasting and self-serving
    emotions like jealousy. His 1st wife and all the the others do not see
    it as Zumas’ opponents do or they would not be with him.

    I know those who search for fault finding will find it even in
    perfection, so Andre, worry not. Next thing they will campaign for one
    child/couple. Zuma is not here to fulfill people’s pent up sexual
    frustration. He and the lady are very happy and will be happier when
    the child is born as will the Iron Duke and his family for having a
    grandchild (from the President?)

    Eat your hearts out objectors. You, the irrelevant ones don’t even
    feature. Your reasoning belongs solely in the worlds created by you
    not in the Zuma family. Cut out the need to complain and focus on the
    good.

  6. Fikile is too clever by half. He must be a lawyer .
    There surely must be a correlation btween the antiquated/obsolete culture he defends and Africa;s status in the world. This is not to say I dispute what he has to say about the supreme imoprtance of the family unit .
    I doubt that men are outnumbered in Communist China [ man(sic) have always been outnumbered ]
    The world Fikile lives in ( his worldview) is headed for scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease, which are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet .

  7. Nic, your piece on goodye Mr is good and thought provoking. Yes JZ always attract controversy but remember the man can charm people. He is prone to do mistakes but who can blame him considering his background?

    In KwaZULU if you have many cattle (money) you can have all women you need as long as you are able to provide for them and children. Zuma is a man who doesnt run away from his responsibilities like Shilowa who needed alone tests to provide for his own son. Zuma will make Sonono Khoza his fourth wife.

    The reality is that He doesnt promote good morals, but tel that to a rural person from KZN He will tell you in your face that love in Africa differs to western love. In Africa a good provides is a real man.

    Back to politics. The centre is starting to crack Cosatu is now starting with noise because Jz refuses to be their lacky come 2612 the real war will begin and remember women simply love Zuma he will take the second term because on one in the in the Allience is prepared to end like Cope and the allience is not yet ready to stand alone let they fall. They will continue to ride on the back of Anc because he they decide to stand alone they’l be shooting themselves on the foot. Ordinary people don’t know Communists or Cosatu. Ask Lekota.

    1. Thanks for your input, Stanley, as always. I tend to agree that any individual or group who leaves the ANC – or even perhaps The Alliance – will, at this stage, enter the political wilderness. The ANC has a virtual monopoly on the full and rich history of the liberations struggle; the organisation “owns” the banners and flags and songs and dead heroes and stories of those who struggled and it will continue to hold the place in the hearts of most of our people for some time. I think this is often true for liberation or national movements who struggle against a colonial oppressor: the ideological glue is very powerful, even as it gets replaced with the glue of patronage and cronyism. Zanu-PF still rules with significant support in ZImbabwe. The durability was exhibited my the Revolutionary Institutional Party in Mexico. Through a combination of identity politics, patronage and proportional representation, the party of national liberation can remain in power for an extremely long time. But in the end, the split always happens. COPE tried to play to incipient tensions in our society: rural/urban, worker/business, militant/instinctively obedient, socialist/capitalist, traditionalist/modern, but in many ways they failed because they were perhaps not exactly who they said they were and, more importantly, the ANC still spans all of those divides. So the Alliance and the ANC itself will eventually split, but it could be many, many years before that split is significant enough to challenge the ANC’s dominance of our politics. Keep well, Nic

  8. Nic, your piece on goodye Mr Zuma is good and thought provoking. Yes JZ always attract controversy but remember the man can charm people. He is prone to do mistakes but who can blame him considering his background?

    In KwaZULU if you have many cattle (money) you can have all women you need as long as you are able to provide for them and children. Zuma is a man who doesnt run away from his responsibilities like Shilowa who needed blood tests to provide for his own son. Zuma will make Sonono Khoza his fourth wife.

    The reality is that He doesnt promote good morals, but tel that to a rural person from KZN He will tell you in your face that love in Africa differs to western love. In Africa a good provides is a real man.

    Back to politics. The centre is starting to crack Cosatu is now starting with noise because Jz refuses to be their lacky come 2012 the real war will begin and remember women simply love Zuma he will take the second term because no one in the in the Allience is prepared to end like Cope and the allience is not yet ready to stand alone let they fall. They will continue to ride on the back of Anc because if they decide to stand alone they’l be shooting themselves on the foot. Ordinary people don’t know Communists or Cosatu. Ask Lekota.

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