Zuma's Pantomime: The last dance?

2016-10-18 10:10

We are told that during that fateful day in 2008 when the ANC NEC decided that Thabo Mbeki should be fired, Jacob Zuma was silent. The dirty work of arguing for the demise of his erstwhile friend turned enemy was left to Julius Malema and other members of he now-disbanded Polokwane lynch-mob. This was to be a sign of things to come: Jacob Zuma was to show himself to be a leader who tries his best to appear to not speak, not act and not be there at critical times. In a time when we needed a president, we were given a spy, a man who is comfortable in the shadows- a man of the invisible hand.

During the infamous rape trial where he was controversially acquitted, amidst the abusive placards, the insults, the burning of effigies and of the accuser’s home, Zuma did not come strongly to denounce the intimidation and threats of violence from his supporters, he chose silence.

On the day that the ANC announced that it would uphold the expulsion of his newly-crowned arch-enemy Julius Malema from the ANC in 2012, Zuma was reportedly out of the country. During the height of the violence at Marikana later that year, Zuma remained largely silent, deciding to leave the country in the midst of the crisis. On the day of the massacre, 16 August, he was in Mozambique.

When the Gupta family landed an aircraft full of wedding guests on the tarmac at Waterkloof Military Airbase to the chagrin of the country and the ANC itself in April of 2013, it was left to Jeff Radebe to announce to the public that the problem here was not Jacob Zuma but “name-dropping by certain individuals”. Zuma, we were told, does not work at customs and is not an air traffic controller; he doesn’t do those things!  Instead of apologizing to the nation, he chose  what some call the “Drug-dealer defence”:  “I wasn’t there, my fingerprints were not found at the scene so I can’t be guilty or responsible in any way!”

Then there was Nkandla. He ducked and dived, skipped parliamentary appearances, ignored 19 of the 25 questions put to him by the then Public Protector (PP) Thuli Madonsela and eventually settled on the ignorance defence that would see opposition leader Mmusi Maimane dub him “President Angazi”  (I don’t know). Again, the work of shooting down the March 2014 “ Secure in Comfort” PP report was left to UDM-defector Cedric Frolick , the hapless Thulas Nxesi and “Firepool” movie director Nathi Nhleko who also moonlights as a Police Minister. There was, however, to be a humiliating capitulation by Zuma when his lawyer, Adv. Jeremy Gauntlett, had to grovel on his behalf in front of the Constitutional Court justices, begging that a declaratory order not be made against him in February 2016. Not surprisingly, Zuma himself was not in court.

Fast forward to October 2016, in a week where universities across the country were in literal and figurative flames, Zuma embarked on a trip to Kenya. A video of him dancing jovially to a mangled rendering of Brenda Fassie’s “Vulindlela” in Nairobi emerged. It was also the week where Fezeka Kuzwayo, who had accused him of rape, passed away. Furthermore, it was the week where Shaun Abrahams of the much-maligned NPA called a press conference to announce that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was to be charged with fraud for something that might not even be a crime. It looked like, felt like and smelt like Zuma, but Zuma wasn’t there.

The battle has raged on, Gordhan has divulged explosive details about the 72 suspicious transactions involving the various members of the Gupta family, Duduzane Zuma and their associated companies which led to the souring of their relationships with the country big four banks. There have been moves by the Guptas, David van Rooyen and even Zuma himself to prevent the contents of the interim report on the allegations of State Capture by the PP being made public. Following the decision by the court, the contents remain hidden in the shadows. For now.

Now, as the music plays, the audience waits anxiously for Zuma to emerge from behind the curtains. We don’t know what he will do or say (or rather not do and not say). Are we going to be led further into the abyss or will he stem the bleeding? Will he push back against his ever-increasing number of enemies or do the unthinkable: act out what he was dancing to in Nairobi and “ Vulindlela” (make way)?

Angazi…

-@Akanirelo

*Akani writes in his personal capacity

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