JZ’s presidency: impotent?

2012-05-22 10:00

David Moseley

When I was at school we had a tough as nails headmaster. Square-jawed and standing well over six-foot tall with a classic "hams as fists" look about him, he scared the cocksure nature of a 13-year-old right out of me.

His voice boomed down the corridors when kids were up to no good and if you got sent for a hiding there was no point in adding an extra layer of underpants or shoving torn out pages of Hamlet into your jocks. The cane would tear straight through them anyway.

He was the best headmaster I could have hoped for. Tough and uncompromising in his beliefs, but open and approachable on any given day (unless you were bent over awaiting the dreaded swoosh-whack sound of bamboo. Then you just kept your trap shut). He was the boss, the undisputed leader of the school and the man who looked like he belonged at the top. He was the guy you didn’t want to disappoint in public in your school uniform, so you made sure those blazer buttons were shiny, shirt tucked in and socks pulled up.

This was a man that commanded respect. Not because he was bigger than me, or older, and not because he was in charge of 800 unruly teens (and 30 unrulier staff), but because of who he was and how he conducted himself. He was a leader with a firm yet fair hand. Later he moved to an all girls' school which, as coincidence would have it, was the same one my fiancée attended. She too speaks in glowing terms of his headmastering.

Boss or buffoon

Later, at my first job, I worked for a guy that pretty much let me do whatever I wanted, as long as my deadlines were met. I was 21 and just out of varsity. I should never have made one deadline in my first year. But I did.

This boss wasn't imposing. He wasn't a tea-cup thrower, a ranter or finger wagging "you will be here by 8:30am" tyrant. In fact, the scariest thing about him was a Modus Western Province golf shirt that he wore around the office. Yet he commanded my respect because he was the best at what he did, and I'd spent three years at university looking up to his talents. I didn't want to let him down when I started working.

And so to Jacob, a man currently being defended by people who say we should show him some respect purely because he's the president. What utter tripe. Being voted in to lead the country doesn't automatically qualify your right to respect. Yes, we respect him as we would any other human being. But not because he's in charge. If you start bowing down to a man just because he's wearing the crown, then you’re not fully appreciating the concept of a free and fair society.

I've worked for or alongside plenty of buffoons in my time. And let me tell, from the outside, Jacob is no better than the incompetent boss, placed at the head of the company because he's been there the longest, who swoons around the passages not quite sure what everyone is doing. He's affable, friendly, harmless, but you don't respect him, you just smile and get on with your work, safe in the knowledge that he can't last forever.

And that's the problem with Zuma's presidency, it's impotent. Ironically, for such a virile gent, the place where we'd like to see the most spunk sees none at all. If the president wants respect he has to earn it. Has he? Not from where I'm sitting. Sex scandals, corruption and incompetence are the words that will define his time at the top. He seems too cowed by those around him to really let rip, and lead with the stature of a dignified man.

I have to be honest. He seems like a good guy. On TV, even in pictures, he looks like the kind of bloke who would spin an entertaining yarn around the braai. But he doesn't look like a leader. He doesn't strike respect and dignity into the heart of the nation. Instead, he looks like a man who's bitten off more than he can chew, who hides behind his cronies and comrades, emerging from the shadows every now and then to douse a flame that's fanned too furiously for too long. He looks out of his depth. And that's not what you want from the man in charge.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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  • Jacques - 2012-05-22 10:11

    Amen to that! Glad you threw in that 'we still respect him' as a human clause, but I still have a feeling you're in for some major trolling. Nevermind the trolls, David.

  • Ricardo - 2012-05-22 10:21

    Problem is Zuma has four wives, the fifth one died, 22 children, 13 other children out of wedlock that we know of, he could have 14 out of wedlock, has numerous mistresses - and he gets upset about a painting where he is depicted as a philandering womaniser? And he is the worse leader this country has seen for many a year

      Ricardo - 2012-05-22 10:22

      P.s. he is definitely not impotent :)

  • Twain - 2012-05-22 10:32

    Being from namibia I can sympathize. Our current president is just as toothless and impotent. A whole lot of talk when talk is expected (like on specific holidays or anniversaries) but when it comes to walking the walk he fails utterly. Words, just words.

  • Sean - 2012-05-22 11:08

    Zuma had to become president. Without a firm grip on the highest position in the land, he would have been in jail by now. In order to seize the top positions of both the ANC and the country, he had to surround himself with people who would be loyal to a crook, and who better than a whole bunch of crooks who had as much to loose as he did. Now we have a government run by crooks with the express purpose of protecting all of them. They have to stick together or they will all go down together. Not one of them is worthy of respect because all of them are there for themselves and none could care less about the rest of us.

  • Warwick - 2012-05-22 11:18


  • gideon.rossouw - 2012-05-22 11:24

    Zuma is a womaniser and philanderer, but now he wants to use his power to assert a dignity which he does not have. The governing party, sycophants to the president, are trying to dictate what art we can see and limit the space for criticising the poor performance of the state and the president. It is disturbing how quickly people use the epithet 'racist' to dismiss criticism of the failures of government and the absurd consumerist lifestyle of the ANC elite. The ANC under Zuma has been trying to restrict the press, increase the powers of state secrecy, and now aiming at satirists and artists. They also criticise and undermine the judiciary, which is tasked with upholding the values and rights of the Constitution. The traditionalist values of Zuma further undermines the nature of the open and democratic society envisaged by the Constitution. No wonder they want to change it.

      Warwick Bristow - 2012-05-22 15:20

      Very well put

      maweza - 2012-05-23 07:53

      Well said... I personally believe Mr thabo Mbeki is by far the best president compared to our clown Mr jacob Zuma

  • Afsar Khan - 2012-05-22 12:08

    Whats really scary is that the vast majority of people voted in this man knowing fully well his dodgy dealings and questionable character this is a democracy we did vote ... Is this a reflection of the character of the South African community? Given the statistics for rape and women abuse I believe that there could be no other leader! but thats a bit harsh some might say, but the number of girls raped in this country is astounding, so the character of the nation is reflected in their leader...

  • Bergie - 2012-05-22 12:59

    So who will replace Zuma? and will he be better...its possible he could be worse.

      Linda - 2012-05-22 13:20

      One shudders to think about that one. Can there be anyone worse?

  • Bruce - 2012-05-22 13:49

    What I would like to know. What do all these wives and mistresses get out of it? Wouldn't want him near with a barge pole! (Despite the name I am a female last time I looked!)

      Koos - 2012-05-25 07:01

      To be screwed by the president give you a life long pension and full medical. You become better than the rest. Status symbol. It has something to do with culture and honour I think.

  • Aikhona - 2012-05-22 22:49

    Bliksem boet, its not often that anyone speaks straight to my braincells. You`ve captured the essence of the Uni-braincelled One better than anyone have in a long time. What is scary though is that this dolt thinks he is God`s blessing for this country, and still have the invisible balls to think he is second-term material. Dem, if I was in his shoes, I would commit to voluntary exile in Tibet, to reflect on how I can ever be so stupid, unrepentant, and disgusting. The rest of us feels pretty embarrased when we make a fool of ourselves in front of people, or if we can`t deliver on a task set before us. Yet this person goes on in oblivious bliss, committing one gaffe after the other in full view of every human being on this planet, and can`t make up or speak his mind on the simplest of issues. One issue he does speak out very quickly against, which also happens to the key trait of the premier coward, is when its about him personally. If you count the number of times when he actually did have something to say, you`ll find those times would have been where the topic at hand touched upon his person, first hand.

  • Elaine Currie - 2012-05-23 10:32

    I am embarrased to say he is the PRESIDENT of our beautiful country! Its 2012, is he honestly the right man to lead us into the future? As i was saying earlier to one of my colleagues, if you portray yourself to the community as Zuma has, dont expect any respect from them!

  • Themba - 2012-05-23 10:44

    @ Ricardo in our culture you can have up to 50 wives, infact David in the bible had like 800 wives, even if i had 100 children it doesnt give you the right to have a pic showing my d&$ck. U are totally wrong if you say he is the worst leader this country has ever had, my advise to you is go back to your history books!!!!!

      gailcarolynhayes - 2012-05-23 11:33

      You may be right that he is not the worst since all he advocates is stealing and nepotism and greed and sex while he hides beind lawyers and his once meaningful Office title. He may not be guilty himself of any of the hideous murders and deaths in crumbling per se but he is GUILTY as charged of knowing about these things and doing nothing to set them right because he is surrounded by friends he appointed to pay back favours who are possibly behind the corruption and fraud etc. I admire Mr Cele more than I do Mr Zuma even though he has a self granted title and is possibly guilty of not paying enough attention in the renting of police buildings. He, at least is facing the music with his head up and admitting that he was wrong. I would support him back there simply because since he was the one who actually cared about the policemen being shot and told them to kill or be killed and stood by it. The person in charge of a country should be competent, law-abiding and able to lead by example and accept responsibility when his leadership is failing and face the music. Regardless of the painting, this is how many people of all races saw him long before Brett committed it to art/caricature and the wasting of taxpayers money to defend his so called (dis) honour is just insult to injury. He is not a man worthy of the position he holds and should voluntarily step down to avoid wasting any more of the taxpayers money on his Zumanation of wives and children.

      Daniel - 2012-05-24 10:26

      Its not in my culture to sponsor all these wives and children with my hard earned tax money! By the way michaelangelo scultured david with his peepee out too! No one ranting about that!

      Ze Don - 2012-05-25 10:42

      @Themba. As I understand, a man can have as many wives and children as he can afford to support. Is this right?

      riettevr - 2012-05-26 22:48

      King david didn't have that many wives. You are referring to king Solomon. Wonder who needs to brush up on a little history...

  • hopesiphiwe.maseko - 2012-05-23 17:30

    Zuma is no angel but above all he deserves respect...and i wouldn't say he is the worst but not the best either!

      Maredi - 2012-05-24 11:43

      @HOPESIPHIWE Exactly what are you trying to sa?

      Koos - 2012-05-25 07:05

      Why does he deserve respect?

      Koos - 2012-05-25 07:06

      Respect : to be worthy, fit, or suitable. Can you apply any of this to The Spear ?

  • hopesiphiwe.maseko - 2012-05-23 17:30

    Zuma is no angel but above all he deserves respect...and i wouldn't say he is the worst but not the best either!

  • Andy Siwe Colwana - 2012-05-24 02:13

    well said David. they voted 4him bcoz he is black en ANC member nt because he is qualified. en most votes came rural areas from people who dnt know wats wat! as 4th many wives, presidency has nothing 2do with culture, u r a president of diff people with diff cultures of which some dnt support 100 wives, dnt xpect us to understand his culture en i doubt God instructed him to a wife after another!

      Koos - 2012-05-25 07:09

      There were about 4000 people at Polokwane. How many vote for him? Look at the quality of the people that vote for him? Once that was achieved we were screwed as the majority of the population will vote for the ANC irrespective of who the leader is. So, we were f ed by about 2900 people.

  • Daniel - 2012-05-24 10:24

    Brilliant! Absolutely spot on!

  • Michael Kleber - 2012-05-25 06:42

    This culture argument keeps on coming up , what culture really is what your forefathers did before civilisation , our forefathers in europe had wives and mistresses too and it was acceptable whereas today it is not , what i am trying to say that just because its part of our culture does not make it right , in the past women did not have the vote today they do because we have all progressed , part of african culture was to wear a loin cloth and live in a mud hut but people now live in mansions and wear caducci suits times have changed so must we

      Beertjie Peertjie - 2012-05-25 12:19

      Good point mate!

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