Mondli Makhanya

The nice lies of the courtiers

2017-05-07 06:23
Mondli Makhanya, City Press editor in chief

Mondli Makhanya, City Press editor in chief

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Our dearly beloved leader shares many traits with Swaziland’s King Mswati III.

So much so that a fake news story about them earlier this year circulated quickly and was believed by many people.

The story, quoting sources close to the Swazi royal house, claimed that Mswati was going to reward President Jacob Zuma with three virgins.

The reward was for the South African government managing to gets its matrics to achieve a 72.5% pass rate.

“This is a major achievement compared with the other years. It shows that Zuma is a hard-working man and he leads by example.

"The youth look up to him, that’s why they managed to get such a good percentage. To congratulate the president for the good work he has done, I will send him three beautiful virgins by the end of next week,” Mswati was quoted as saying.

Despite this obviously being an early April Fools’ joke, many took it seriously. This shows just how easy it has become to believe the most outrageous things about Zuma.

If those who believed the fake story had witnessed Zuma and Mswati in Durban this week, they would have had an “I told you so” grin on their faces.

Our leader and his randy friend danced up a storm at the World Economic Forum mokete.

When he hit the dance floor with his friend, Zuma was a man seemingly without worries.

This was not a man whose nose had just been bloodied by the Pretoria High Court, which ruled that he must provide the DA with his reasons for the dramatic Cabinet reshuffle in March.

This was certainly not the same person who, just a few days earlier, had been humiliated by workers who told him to leave office.

Zuma is not the same once-feared man – he has been weakened and openly defied by senior leaders of the party.

It is difficult to tell if he is putting on a facade of strength or if he actually doesn’t realise that his power to govern and control is being sapped by the day.

If it is the former, he deserves an Oscar, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Bafta and a Safta for his great performance.

If it is the latter, there is a great deal of self-delusion at play.

It is, however, not only he who may suffer from this self-delusion; ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete seems to be in the same boat.

After being jeered and booed at a Workers’ Day rally in Durban on Monday, Mbete insisted in an interview with The Mercury newspaper that Zuma and the influence of the Guptas were not the main problems confronting the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

Poverty, inequality and unemployment were the big issues, she said sagely.

“If we sit and apply our minds calmly, it cannot be true that those two issues are the biggest problems that we have right now,” she said.

She also told the paper that the succession race was playing no role in fuelling tensions. This is because, according to her, there is no succession race at all.

“The ANC officially has no campaign and does not recognise a race because it is not there officially,” Mbete said.

Yes, you are right, Madam Speaker. And a tribe of aliens built the Great Wall of China.

Elsewhere in the land, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was scolding workers for being ungrateful louts who did not appreciate the many wonderful things the president had done for them.

The workers who were calling for Zuma to go simply did not know how much their lives and working conditions had improved since he became president in 2009, she patronisingly said.

Joining them in this chorus was ANC provincial chair and Free State Premier Ace Magashule, who pointed a finger at “ill-disciplined people and cadres”, and people bused in from outside the province.

“The people are still in support of Jacob Zuma. Go and check where Zuma goes and see how much he’s supported,” said Magashule.

There were similar utterances from other quarters in the governing party, some more delusional than others.

This is a common phenomenon in corridors of power. Sidekicks and courtiers always prefer to tell the leader what he wants to hear and, acting in their own self-interest, they seek to comfort the leader and make him feel secure.

By playing cheerleaders, they help to expedite the demise of the person they seek to protect because that individual continues to behave in the same manner as before.

There are casualties along the way.

In this case, the casualties have been the citizenry institutions, governance, the economy, the governing party, and the political and ethical culture of the republic.

Ultimately, the casualties of this syndrome will be the main man and those who whispered comforting words in his ear about how safe he was.


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