On 25 October 2012, the South African Treasury announced that it would contribute an additional R20 million towards the presidency’s legal and executive service costs. "Treasury" is a word that African National Congress politicians use for a bottomless pit filled with money and which is magically, regularly topped up by tax-paying citizens.
The constitutionally mandated Treasury is responsible for managing South Africa’s national government finances. That effectively boils down to them being given the pin code for the collective bank accounts of everybody that contributes towards the fiscus. Interestingly, the origin of the word fiscus comes from the English word for the personal treasury of the emperors of Rome. Revenue was collected from Roman provinces and then granted to the emperor. Our good man, Jacob, is obviously a stickler for terminology because there is no doubting that he regards the finances of the country as his personal piggy bank.
Following on the R20 million announcement by just a few of days, the president announced that he would be withdrawing his claim for damages against a cartoonist, Zapiro.
For a cartoon!
As noble as that might sound in isolation of any facts or logic, it is not. Believe it or not, that bull-shitter in chief, Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj attempted to convince the public that Zuma had magnanimously decided to withdraw the claim and make a contribution towards Zapiro et al’s legal costs.
Rarely, are the public of a country treated to such an insidious admission of folly as the ANC president’s withdrawal of his civil claim for damages against the Sunday Times, its publishers Avusa and its cartoonist Zapiro. In the face of having his ass handed to him, he scampered off with his tail between his legs – yes, that same tail that caused so much fuss recently when exposed in the Spear painting.
For those of you who think you may have just been rendered incapable of English comprehension, you read that correctly. The president has blown a substantial amount of public funds suing the media, broadly speaking, for a cartoon. In a recent article, I wrote that the last time I was personally offended by somebody drawing caricatures of me I had not yet grown my first teenage bodily hair. But generally, once people encounter puberty, they begin to learn not to be terribly offended by cartoon sketches and focus more time on cultivating that new body hair.
Pardon the crude analogy, but the essence of what I am getting at is that the childlike mind of Jacob Zuma cannot conceive even the vaguest link between action and consequence; he is more offended by cartoons than by the notion of frivolously spending public funds; he cannot accept that public office comes with challenges other than pinching as much money as possible.
Problematically, this dancing dwarf of intellectualism is the elected leader of the ANC – and the ANC is the political party chosen by the majority of voting South Africans to represent their interests. For readers who are blindly loyal to the ANC, it is probably best that you do not continue reading, and for the love of all that is holy, do not read the last two lines of this commentary.
Normal people are not able to willy-nilly pursue costly law suits for cartoons they deem offensive… most of us are not privileged enough to have cartoons of us pencilled out by widely-published social commentators. Yet here stands Zuma, defiant in the face of ethics or morality, spending millions earned by other people (those of you who pay tax will become more annoyed than an ANC loyalist facing up to the truth of their naiveté) to randomly sue those with whom he does not agree.
Union leaders have recently spent much time easing their Armani-clad backsides out of leather chairs to whine about the vast amounts of money that various executives earn annually. Executives running massive, multi-national concerns with great success are hauled over the coals, extracted by exploited workers no doubt, while Zuma is afforded another R20 million - just for legal fees!
In 1970, a magnificent musician, Rodriguez released an album called Cold Fact. He was a gifted poet, as much as a talented, if unappreciated musical talent. Although I concede his lyrics were probably not intended in the context I use them and Jacob Zuma was still poor when they were first sung, I quote from one of my favourite songs, "Like Janis":
And don’t try to enchant me with your manner of dress
‘Cos a monkey in silk is a monkey no less.
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