Put me in the stocks and pelt me with tomatoes if you must, but I do admit to occasional but incredibly brief bouts of pity for President Jacob Zuma.
Not for his personal situation, which has come about as a consequence of his wolfish appetite for material riches. Where I sometimes falter in my overall contempt for the man is at moments when he tries to explain policy or theories that may, coming from an upright individual, have merit.
It has nothing to do with his lack of erudition or the way he seems completely disengaged from the umpteenth speech laid out in front of him. It has everything to do with his standing. By lacking even the smallest shred of credibility, his words simply float on air. In fact, I’ve stopped listening. I’d rather clip my toenails.
Perhaps I’ve suffered too much from empty vessels lately. As much as I adore my two-year-old, like Zuma, he wears you down. Within him must dwell an energy source of solar magnitude because he is unrelenting when he wants his way. When he doesn’t get it, which is most often, he turns on the taps, holds his belly and feigns illness. “I’m not feeling well,” is what follows as he seeks out a sympathiser.
Problem is, there aren’t too many in the house these days falling for his antics. Even granny is rolling her eyes. No-one is entertaining his demands because they lack credibility.
Now, I’m not sure who I’m doing a disservice to by comparing them: Zuma or Oli’ boy? I suppose the toddler by virtue of being a toddler. Just think about the public response to Zuma’s radical economic transformation for a moment. Never mind which end of the political spectrum the commentators come from, most see it as nothing more than a larcenous blueprint for the president, his family and hangers-on.
But talking about our economic model and things like inclusivity and capitalism’s need for a new social rubric is very, very important, not to mention overdue. We need this conversation. However, with Zuma driving the agenda, we are stuck. He has fallen so far, his credibility plunged to such an extent, that it would be a monumental stretch to believe him, take him seriously or genuinely expect to ever see the changes happen.
Reason being, whatever he says or does, we will forever see the motivation as one of self-enrichment, even if it isn’t. That’s a problem because how do you put stock in what your nation’s leader says? America is probably asking itself the same question of Donald Trump right now. He’s sounding like the gobshite he is. I would go so far as to say Zuma’s ideas have minimal currency or, for that matter, constituency, even within the party.
Furthermore, he has surrounded himself with such reprobates it immediately robs his thinking of sincerity. That’s because everything Zuma offers up as a way forward seems to have the makings of a scheme.
To carry out his instructions he either needs those with similarly loose morals and greasy palms or else out-and-out patsies. Quite where Brian Molefe fits on the spectrum once had me puzzled. Defenders of his management track record prior to Eskom almost – I say almost – made it seem possible he was an unwitting Zuma pawn.
But the R30-million pension gravy Eskom was willing to feed him and his love for tippling at the world’s most sumptuous shebeen now has me convinced it’s more sinister.
One has to wonder what it must be like to be enthralled by Zuma. What do you surrender in the process? Credibility, to begin with, followed by a loss of legitimacy. And when that happens it becomes very cold out in the open.