Irrational thinking

2015-06-25 06:00

JUST so one does not get misunderstood, I have absolutely no problem when President Jacob Zuma is criticised by his detractors for his omissions and or commissions.

But there appears to be a perception, ever since he became the head of state, which appears to say his political enemies can throw as much dirt at him as they want and he is not expected to defend himself.

When one looks at some of the criticism directed at the president, they are completely irrational. The appointment of, for instance, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, comes to his desk as a recommendation from officials who should know whether the person is suitable and qualified to do the job. Zuma’s job is to either take what is recommended or reject it.

When the person does the job well, no one remembers that he was appointed by Zuma or those who do remember conveniently forgets to mention it. However, when the person gets involved in some kind of controversy or scandal, there is a chorus of condemnation of Zuma and all kinds of political agenda’s gets thrown around to support those views.

There might very well be some truth in what some commentators and critics are alleging that the last NDPP was appointed by Zuma because he assumed the official would be pliable should Zuma find himself having to answer certain charges in court. But until and unless some proof is provided to back up this claim, it is simply irrational to expect all of us to accept that claim on its face value.

While everyone and everybody can make fun of Zuma all day long, somehow he is not expected to do the same. That is considered by his detractors “unstatesmanlike”. Yet no one has ever bothered to inform us what constitutes statesmanship. I mean, when a leader of the opposition party stands up in Parliament and accuses a sitting head of state of corruption without providing proof, it is accepted by many as quite normal. But when Zuma in turn mocks the same opposition with “Nkaaandla”, the same people feel offended.

I hold no brief for Zuma, but one has to ask how long should a person, president or not, be kicked around like a dog, before he is expected to respond. Where in the Constitution of Bill of Rights does it say every Tom, Dick or Harry can throw as much mud as they desire at the president, without him giving some back?

If, when saying this makes one come across as a Zuma man, so be it. But it has always been my motto that if you are in the habit of throwing stones at others expect others to throw stones back at you too. You certainly can’t expect them to shower you with confetti. The point I am making here is that it is all well and good to point out hidden agendas of the president, but it should not be forgotten that his detractors, too, may harbour agendas of their own.

Surely it is not rational that biases of one individual or group be exposed, such as those of Zuma or the ruling ANC, while those of others like the DA and its leader, be left unexposed. All biases must be out there in the open so that everyone is judged fairly.

Lastly there is the matter of the Office of the Public Protector. That office, after a lengthy investigation into Nkandla, came up with findings. One of these recommended that the Minister of Police and Treasury must determine how much the president should pay of the estimated R250 millon spent on that property. Here is a part which I don’t quite get - no one asks why the public protector herself could not make this determination. But when Zuma, in answer to when he is going to pay, says he is waiting for the minister of police to inform him, ( as recommended) he gets crucified from all quarters and accused of all sorts of things. That is what I call irrational.

Also when the report says it is this minister who must inform the nation how much should the president pay, not a single person raises the small matter of the minister’s potential compromised position, since after all cabinet ministers are appointed by the very same president, which makes Zuma their boss.

Nobody asked then how the Public Protector, knowing what she knows about what’s happening in government, expected the minister to tell his boss he must pay back some money back on the Nkandla alterations. But when the minister’s report comes out, and essentially says the president does not have to pay a cent, everyone feigns shock and agitate that he be hanged from the nearest tree. Surely that is irrational. • The writer is a social and media commentator based in Pretoria

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