Guptagate and the silent president

2013-05-05 10:00

This week, when President Jacob Zuma was asked by a group of young aspiring leaders how he handled the stress of running a country, he replied that he doesn’t suffer any because “in isiZulu there is no word for stress”.

This probably explains why his voice was conspicuously absent from the chorus of chatter during this week’s Guptagate. As a personal friend of the family, we expected Zuma to speak out about the uproar regarding the alleged abuse of state protocol and resources that marked the arrival of the Gupta wedding party on South African soil.

Landing their privately chartered Jet Airways plane at Waterkloof military base, apparently a national key point, and then enjoying a police and security escort to accompany the 200-plus guests to the Sun City resort in the North West – sirens screaming – had many South Africans questioning whether the close ties with the First Family have given the Guptas carte blanche to the country and its resources.

Radio stations have been flooded with calls from citizens expressing their ire, with phrases such as “banana republic” and “Gupta’s playground” bandied about.

While most political parties, civic organisations and government ministries have had a say in the matter, the one voice we as South African citizens wanted to hear has been deafening in its silence.

It seems yet again that Zuma has chosen to bury his head in the sand, hoping that everything will blow over and that he will come out unscathed.

We understand being the leader of a country doesn’t mean calling a press conference every time someone is looked at the wrong way, but these are Zuma’s personal friends and business acquaintances, who have seen fit to treat this country as their own fiefdom, and made a mockery of our state defence and security.

With the national election coming up next year, we would assume that a president might have wanted to address the issue and put it to bed once and for all.

But as Zuma admitted, he’s not that kind of president.

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