Zuma a sad replacement for Madiba #SONA2015

2015-02-11 09:47

Today marks the anniversary of former President Nelson Mandela’s iconic release from imprisonment. It is also the day before the State of the Nation address by our current President, Jacob Zuma.

Public sentiments that are being expressed in lieu of these two critical events, are in stark and bitter contrast.

When Nelson Mandela passed away in December 2013, his name was trending as the most used phrase on every continent. It was as though the world stood still to say his name. Today, people from around the world are reflecting positively on the release of this iconic former head of state.

In the very same media space, however, there are disdainful reports about the upcoming State of the Nation address. Twitter has been ablaze lately, with #SONA and #SONA2015 being used to reference the very many demands made by the public for our known-to-be-corrupt President Jacob Zuma to resign, or, to #PayBackTheMoney. The latter of which is a public outcry against the gross abuse of public money, at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

This comes after an attempt to get the public involved in the President’s address, backfired. The Presidency called for input into his speech. In response to this call, requests that our President should just resign, flooded social media platforms. The Presidency has made a massive blunder.

But what did they think was going to happen?

You see, it’s quite simple. Parliament is a representation of the public. It oversees what the executive does. Ignore Parliament and you ignore the people of this Republic. This is exactly what President Jacob Zuma has done. And after purposefully ignoring Parliaments calls to account for Nkandlagate, the Presidency was suddenly interested in input from exactly who they have been ignoring all this time.  A referendum on whether South Africans want Jacob Zuma as their head of state, may very well yield a resounding ‘NO,’ if social media is anything to go by.

#PayBackTheMoney has now been famously latched onto by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) front man, Julius Malema. Honourable Malema is waiting in the wings for his moment to ‘bring down the house.’ Malema is so determined to disrupt SONA, that even a group within his party that does not agree with this approach, couldn’t stop him. This group has been labelled as moles, by Malema. Agents, planted in the EFF, by the African National Congress.

In turn, there are reports about security boot camps in Bishop Lavis, where parliamentary security officials are being sent for training. I couldn’t believe that one. Lavis? Seriously? You mean to tell me that with all the gang violence in Bishop Lavis, they are more concerned about schooling Malema? That's what it boils down to in the end. Julius Malema is a monster of Jacob Zuma’s making. A monster that has become too big to control and is now coming back to bite its maker.

So with this grave threat that is the EFF, security at Parliament is a hot-topic. Headlines in this morning’s news said it all. They were as follows:

The Times - Mbete quiet on looming EFF threats

Star - House ready for any disruptions, Speaker assures

The Daily Maverick - Parliament Diary: SONA draws near, Speaker pretends not the hear

Daily Dispatch - Security Plans for SONA remain secret

Ukhozi FM - Parliament to deal with SONA issues as they unfold

Kaya FM - Zuma’s SONA will be a national embarrassment

All in all, not a good look for South Africa. And in the midst of this all, we remember a liberation hero who was a man of reconciliation and tolerance. This, sadly, is becoming a mere memory as it is very far from common practice. What makes matters worse is that President Zuma believes that riding on the Madiba legacy will serve his ends.

However, doing so may have very negative consequences. President Zuma is corroding the South African soft power and appeal that Nelson Mandela built up. And in reminding South Africans, constantly of how great Nelson Mandela was, he only highlights just how sorry he (Jacob Zuma) really is.

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