Friends & Friction: Zuma is now the ‘dead snake’

2014-11-12 06:45

So the Democrats lost the US Senate last week, and everyone is blaming it on Barack Obama.

He was aware of the coming onslaught – in fact, he stayed away from campaigning as his comrades avoided him like he had lekker krap.

He reportedly told his confidants that he has given up on some of his pre-election priorities, and he deeply regrets that.

If you look at his scorecard alone, Obama has done very well: the country’s budget deficit has been reduced by half; unemployment has dropped; and the price of petrol, which Americans regard as a constitutional right, has fallen.

According to The New York Times, the US economy is growing at a “decent” rate.

This goes to show that the scorecard alone is never enough – sentiment is the only yardstick.

The lesson for the governing party here at home is that it doesn’t matter how good your service delivery is, it’s important how people feel about the candidates you put up to lead the election campaign.

Obama will be faced with a hostile Congress and Senate; and needless to say, South Africa will fall even lower on his list of priorities.

As this country continues to lose its influence in global matters, we may well accept we have embarked on a journey to oblivion: The Madiba magic is now gone, the Mbeki optimism has dimmed and the Msholozi charm has dwindled.

If we ever dreamed of being the gateway to Africa, it is time to wake up because “the way” now passes around the gate. We are no longer an investment destination, which means we will not provide jobs for a long time to come.

More than half of the top 40 companies on the JSE now get most of their revenue from outside South Africa.

This means they have invested their money elsewhere and are starting to see returns coming from those countries. If the future continues to look dim, more money will flow out of the country in search of greener pastures.

Like the US, we have re-entered a period of polarisation. Do you remember when President Jacob Zuma called the then president of the country, Thabo Mbeki, “inyoka efile” (a dead snake), which is a metaphor for something that may look dangerous but is in fact harmless?

Well, Zuma is the dead snake now. He can hardly address his party in the most economically active province, Gauteng; and he seems to be scared of going to the seat of democracy, Parliament.

Nothing seems to work, it is all blamed on him and the people he is alleged to have put in key positions.

Zuma and Obama are in similar positions, even though they used different means to get there. Obama has two years left, but you can reduce that to six months before campaigning for the 2016 elections begins.

He will watch everything from the sidelines. Zuma, on the other hand, has another four and a half years to go.

He needs to reignite his charm and reunite his party if he is to remain relevant.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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