Howard Feldman

Zuma's ultimate Valentine's Day gift

2018-02-15 11:58
President Jacob Zuma. (File, City Press)

President Jacob Zuma. (File, City Press)

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I have never been a Valentine's Day fan. Thankfully, nor has my wife.

It might have something to do with the fact that we celebrate our wedding anniversary on February 10, but either way I am grateful for the respite from what is very clearly a thankless day.

A day to prove to your loved one how much you care for them? All translated into nauseating expensive kitsch. What could possibly go wrong?

Ask Oscar.

The day that he made the choice to shoot his girlfriend through a bathroom door, was the day that Saint Valentine's Day in South Africa altered its course. It has yet to find its way back. For South Africans the day of love will always be 'that' day. And they will always remember where they were when they heard the news that made no sense at all.

And now South Africans have something further to add to the history of the day.

Yesterday morning whilst devoted South Africans were delivering scones, piping hot coffee and the required perky red rose to the beds of their beloved, the Guptas were receiving their very own love note (otherwise known as a warrant) courtesy of the Hawks.

It was reported that their premises all over Johannesburg were raided and that Ajay Gupta was taken in for questioning. The fact that he is still in the country might bear testimony to the arrogance and just how untouchable he considered himself to be, but is a Valentine's gift to the nation nevertheless.

But the day was still to get better because just before midnight on Valentine's Day, President Jacob Zuma finally said those words we have been longing to hear. Words that allow us for the first time to imagine a future and to dream of what can be.

I read on Twitter that Valentine's Day is the day of love, and if you really love someone you should set them free. By resigning, Zuma finally showed how much he loves the country. (There was no mention of the second half of the cliché which is that if they love you back they will return to you, because not even his wives are likely to do that.)

For a while it looked unlikely. His earlier interview on SABC was frightening and deranged and very worrying. One got the sense that at any time, some big gentle souls in white coats would enter the room and firmly but kindly remind him it was time to take his meds. He wouldn't agree, of course, and would try to continue. But they would assist him (one big gentle soul on either arm) to stand and walk him out the room all whilst he shouted: "Tell me what I have done. I am the president. What have I done wrong?"

He then announced his 10pm press briefing for which he was late. Perhaps he was too busy with the delivery of all the roses to all the wives, along with the required love note, scones and piping hot coffee, so he couldn't get there on time. Who could blame him? He might have considered that the trouble he could face on the domestic front might well have been worse than anything the EFF could do to him if he left one of the wives out. And I kind of understand that.

Besides, it wasn't like he couldn't sleep late today.

His announcement finally meant that South Africans could exhale. They could disconnect from their Twitter and News24 feeds and they could actually get on with life. The situation has become so serious in my house that my wife forced me to take a Stillnox the night before (I suffer from very serious FOMO) just so I could get some sleep. Apparently some of my ramblings made Zuma look sane.

So ridiculous was the situation that earlier in the day I had seriously debated with a friend at the gym if he should risk going for a 45 minute swim where he would have no access to the news. A bike, he figured, can be a decent work-out and he will remain connected. And neither of us thought anything was wrong with the situation.

And now it's over. He has resigned – without knowing why – and we get to move forward as a people and as a nation. I assume that the reasons will become clear to him at some point, and even if not, it doesn't really matter, because he is no longer our problem.

President Jacob Zuma gave South Africa the ultimate Valentine's Day gift. He proved his love by setting us free. Red roses, freshly bakes scones and piping hot coffee to us all and the freedom to move forward as South Africans. 

- Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

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:    jacob zuma  |  anc  |  valentines day


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