Playing to the Big Man’s tune

2017-09-24 06:07
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (File, S'thembile Cele, City Press)

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (File, S'thembile Cele, City Press)

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Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would probably make a decent president.

Her record in previous portfolios in government shows that she has what it takes to get things done.

So, there is no cause to doubt that, if given the keys, she would do just fine.

Before she entered the presidential race, Dlamini-Zuma had that quality called dignity – or, as they say in our good republic, “isithunzi” and “seriti”.

But, these days, when you watch her on the campaign trail, you feel pity for her as her support team strips her of this dignity and turns her into an object of ridicule.

Rather than projecting her as presidential material, they haul her around the country as though she is a rare species, interesting artefact or performing act.

This week was a case in point.

Supposedly in a quest to reach as many constituencies as possible, they got the poor woman to go and address a funeral indaba.

She donned her beige-gold doek and made for Durban’s Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre to seek blessings from grave diggers.

On the podium, she customised her campaign message for her grim audience. We should not laugh, but she actually called for the “radical economic transformation” of the death industry.

“We want to see you part of the entire value chain. We want to see a totally transformed industry. It is in our hands.

"We cannot expect anyone else to do it for us‚” Dlamini-Zuma was reported as saying to those who ensure our loved ones are sent to their resting places gracefully.

She bemoaned the fact that black companies were in the “small and upcoming” category, and that black undertakers did not have a share of the funeral insurance industry.

“They act almost like agents. Most of the money is with the underwriters. Undertakers are providing the final service, yet do not take a lot of profit. Undertakers are left out of the value chain,” she told her appreciative audience.

Also, she said, black people needed to be making the coffins that carried corpses and not just putting people inside them.

“Most black undertakers are not manufacturing caskets, for example. If we are in the majority being buried and the majority in the sector, we should be manufacturing as the majority.”

Black people should also be growing the flowers that decorate gravesites and are used for making wreaths, she said.

“We need to be in the value chain of this industry, including horticulture. We always use flowers, but how many here are part of growing flowers?”

She went on to talk about death certificates, cremation, grief and the vulnerable state of families in mourning, and how important their role was to society ... blah blah blah blerry blah.

As we all know, no radical speech is complete without the issue of land coming up. The death people needed to get their hands on land as most people still wanted to be buried intact.

And so the person who pioneered some of the most progressive tobacco legislation in the world, transformed South Africa’s racialised health system and served admirably in three senior Cabinet portfolios was made a laughing stock by those who purport to love her.

Not that there is no merit in what she was saying. The burial sector is a massive industry and does need transforming.

But do you really want a presidential candidate preaching about death?

"I’m sworn in and that’s all I know"

Two days later, Dlamini-Zuma donned a very colourful doek and headed to Cape Town for her parliamentary swearing-in ceremony.

There, she was sworn in alongside Matthew Wolmarans, one of North West’s most feared strongmen.

Although it was obvious to even the dumbest guy at a Donald Trump rally that the duo’s deployment and hurried swearing-in was part of a much bigger plan by the man at the top, she feigned ignorance when asked about her future role.

“Well, I’ve been informed by the office of the chief whip and the secretary-general of the ANC that I am coming here to be an MP.

"They have not told me anything else. As far as I am concerned, I am coming to Parliament to be an MP. I’m sworn in and that’s all I know,” she said.

With that statement, she wanted us to believe that she is at the beck and call of Jackson Mthembu and Gwede Mantashe, two individuals who are strongly identified with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, her closest rival in the presidential race. She would have us believe that she will march to their orders.

The truth is that she is part of the Big Man’s big plans, and she is merely a pawn in his game.

What will unfold in the near future is that she will be given a major task that will significantly boost her profile and arm her for her future job.

In that portfolio, she will be paraded around and made to do and say things she is not excited about.

As Donald Trump would tweet: “#Sad!!!”

Read more on:    donald trump  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  nkosazana dlamini-zuma

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