Faith Daniels

Happy birthday, Mr President... Now please, fall

2016-04-13 14:59

Faith Daniels

South Africans have no chill. Not even in these trying times. Let's be clear – we like laughing, who doesn't? We have the ability to laugh about every possible situation. Ask comedian Trevor Noah, for instance. Noah recently poked fun at Jacob Zuma and Nkandlagate on The Daily Show at a time when calls are increasing for Zuma to step down and some political observers are saying we are doomed if Zuma stays in power. 

But we can equally dabble in the extreme – of being completely serious – when the time calls for it. Judging from the reaction to the president's birthday this week – that time is now. Not even a birthday could keep the calls for him to go at bay and without even meaning to, that too made us laugh. 

Scores of messages, especially on social media, quickly reminded us of the fact that Zuma should not be leading our country – but happy birthday anyway. 

Zuma turned 74 on the April 12. The communications machinery at the presidency kicked in with a happy birthday message for Number One and included comment from the man himself. Among others Zuma had this to say, "My birthday wish is to see South Africa increasingly becoming a better place for all." He then delves into tackling other issues of importance collectively, one nation etc etc. And then, he lost me. 

As that message was retweeted countless times, the voices started rising and the comments picked up. They ranged from, "Happy birthday and you should fall," to, "Some people are outraged that it's president Zuma's birthday today. How does a birthday upset people?" and, "Can he give the country a massive present by handing in his resignation?" And so it went on and on. 

The most damning statement released on the day, though, came from the ANC in Gauteng. No happy birthday wish there. Zuma was asked "to do the right thing" following the recent Constitutional Court ruling on money spent on non-security upgrades to his Nkandla home. The statement itself was not that surprising. What it did do, though, was open the floodgates from within the ruling party itself.

The ANC in KZN didn't waste any time defending JZ: "We strongly reject with contempt it deserves the call by our legendary opponents and those within our ranks, including some religious leaders, for the President to step down."

The ANC Women's League also released its own statement taking on religious leaders who want the president to vacate the Union Buildings.

An extract of their statement reads: "We reject the selective interpretation of the Biblical scriptures by men of cloth when submitting their views regarding the Concourt ruling on Nkandla. It has exposed their political biasness into the matter instead of remaining within their doctrine principles." Before this, the statement quoted scriptures about forgiveness. 

And so this will continue - with everyone taking a position for and against Zuma. Because, it's about that time. The ruling party is heading to an elective conference next year, so everyone will be nailing their colours to the mast. But, as the dirty laundry is being aired in public and the insults fly, let's not lose sight of the prize. If Zuma doesn't go, our democracy will be the only thing that falls.  

-Faith Daniels is a seasoned radio and TV journalist, and is currently head of news at Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    zuma  |  jacob  |  nkandla upgrade


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