Zuma, a Naked Emperor

2015-12-11 11:19

Is it too soon to say that President Zuma’s firing of Nhlanhla Nene is the best thing that will ever happen to South Africa? That this will be the tipping point that the country has been waiting for and that we can now begin the positive process of rehabilitation? That this will be his demise because he has miscalculated and taken a grotesque step too far? Is it too soon to look at the glass half full and to thank Zuma for finally allowing his narcissism to be so glaringly exposed that only a moron would defend his actions? And although we have a few (morons) in government, even they have to see the writing on the wall. And is it too soon to thank him for allowing me to mix so many metaphors in one paragraph that my head is spinning and I feel the need to lie down?

It’s been one of those weeks. South Africans have become all too accustomed to the horror that is a President who masquerades as leader. We are exhausted from outrage, fatigued from the horror and fearful of our future. Our currency is failing to the point that we don’t know whether to rush out and buy anything that is imported and that we might need in the next few months (like a Mac Book pro or one-way air ticket Christchurch) or to hide Kruger Rands under our threadbare mattresses, assuming one still buys “Krugers.” Either that or we can don our well-worn crash helmets, assume the brace position (once again) and wait to see where this run-away Airbus takes us (too soon?)

Our President stands alone. He is naked and he fully exposed. And it’s ugly. The Emperor has no clothes. The little boy in the story has called him on it and there is no fine stitching to mask the view. Ironically over the last few years South African artists have attempted to portray his nakedness as though warning the nation that what might be seen if the façade is stripped away. The ANC Woman’s League, in defence of his “Dignity” arranged marches (T-shirts and all) and gathered some loyal souls who felt there was some dignity left to defend (imagine how the 16 of them must be feeling right now). And march they did for a President who has shown his people how little he cares for them.

This week saw that veneer slip further and the nation became privy that which our artist attempted to portray. Beneath the perfectly cut suits beats the ruthless heart of man who is capable of destroying the country that he was elected to serve. For his personal gain. With no remorse and no shame and no thought as to the consequences, the Emperor takes what the Emperor wants.

But this time he has miscalculated. And whereas no one would accuse him of being a numbers man (too soon?) the one thing that he had going for him was his survival instinct. Not many men would outlive a poison plot as he did when one of his least favourite wives tried to “off” him. In fairness, not many men would survive marrying so many woman simultaneously. Not many would survive an accusation of rape, or bribery when the briber was actually found guilty and sent to prison, survive a ruling demanding that he return funds for his homestead and of being accused of smuggling international felons out the country, using an airbase so that his friends can by pass customs. The list is both impressive and embarrassing because it is the South African public who have allowed this carnage to continue.

But no more. Social media is a powerful tool and South Africans have had enough. The calls for his removal have begun and the country is in the midst of change. The Rand might fall today but it will recover when South Africa does. And this week saw the first step in that direction. Zuma must fall. He has determined his own fate and we can reap the rewards.

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