President Jacob Zuma obviously doesn’t understand how cross everyone is with him after The Great Finance Minister Juggling Act of 2015. It was a costly and irresponsible act to suddenly shift Nhlanhla Nene – and the flimsy cover-up story about the yet-to-be-established BRICS bank added insult to injury. This year, it will be lot tougher for Zuma to evade accountability, as many more people have reached their tolerance thresholds. Here are a few helpful hints for the president to avoid even more hashtag campaigns coming his way. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Seriously, nobody understands what you find so funny all the time. If you are in the audience of The Daily Show or happen to bump into Tumi Morake at the mall, by all means, knock yourself out. But when you are in Parliament or addressing the nation, nobody knows why you are giggling. People are looking to you for leadership at a difficult time in our country. There is really nothing funny about that.
Don’t touch us on our Finance Ministry
If you want to do the Hokey Pokey and shake your Cabinet all about, that’s your prerogative Mr President. Send Faith Muthambi to look after the fishes and trees or David Mahlobo to jam the signal of the Springboks if you so wish. But please leave Pravin Gordhan and the folk at the Treasury alone. No matter how much your good friend Atul hates Pravin’s glare and no nonsense attitude, tell him to suck it up. Speaking of Pravin’s glare, perhaps you need to move SARS commissioner Tom Moyane out of his line of vision.
Keeping down with the Guptas
On the subject of the Gupta family, you said recently that you are not the first president they have been friends with. So you do know they are not associating with you for your charming personality and proficiency in stick fighting, right? Anyway, it seems you do enjoy their company judging by the frequency of your visits to Saxonwold. The problem Mr President is that while you’re enjoying a nice curry, the rest of us get Delhi Belly. So perhaps you could discourage them from abusing their proximity to you to increase their bounty even more.
The Nkandla conundrum
Mr President, #PayBackTheMoney is your creation. The Public Protector’s report on the upgrades at Nkandla was not unreasonable. Thuli Madonsela gave you room to manoeuvre: “a reasonable percentage of the costs” of the non-security upgrades could have been any amount really. The fact that you have not paid and allowed the ANC, the government and your presidency to be held hostage by this matter is irresponsible and shameful. Your consistent question is: “Why should I pay?” but you never ask it where you can get an answer. Madonsela can give you the answer. The elders in the ANC can give you answer. The people of South Africa can give you the answer if you listen to them. In February the Constitutional Court will give you the answer.
Visitors to South Africa
Minister Malusi Gigaba announced some impressive statistics on tourism figures for the festive season – a 7.6% increase is fantastic. Imagine what it could be with user-friendly visa regulations? If you travel through foreign airports (through public terminals that is), you will hear the special announcements about South Africa’s visa regulations and see the trauma of people unable to travel. We need more people to visit our beautiful country. Let’s help them get here – even the cheapskates exploiting our weakening Rand.*
*There are exceptions, of course, to whom we should welcome to our shores. Let’s make it a rule not to roll out the red carpet for anyone implicated in war crimes and genocide. Omar al-Bashir left you in a diplomatic pickle with the International Criminal Court and our government stands accused of violating a high court order. Good luck with all that.
Mr President, we get that you are really excited about building new nuclear power stations. Former President Thabo Mbeki got a kick from buying jets and ships and your thing is big nuclear reactors. Groovy. In ten years time, we really do not want you to have to leave the firepool at Nkandla to appear before a commission of inquiry into the nuclear build programme. No matter how well camouflaged, whatever underhand business goes on will be found out. The last thing you need is another corruption investigation. Seriously, you have enough problems already. Let Pravin Gordhan and the Treasury manage the process and keep it above board.
Dudu Myeni and South Africa Airways
On SAA, ditto Pravin and the Treasury. With regard to Dudu, you appear to have made your bed – so to speak. Perhaps its time to call in the evacuation team that’s keeping MaNtuli at bay.
Mr President, sorry to break it to you but the Rand really doesn’t like you. Every time you mention it, there are terrifying screams from the National Mint, smoke bellows out of the JSE and the Reserve Bank Governor get motion sickness. And please stop talking about the markets as if they are school dropouts who keep stealing your mail from the post box. We get that numbers are not your thing. You also do not help matters when you ramble incoherently about the economy and nobody understands what you’re saying. Perhaps when Cyril is not in South Sudan or Lesotho, or stranded in Djibouti when the wheels fall off his plane, he could be assigned to talk on these matters.
With David Des van Rooyen as your point man on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, it seems you have the best talent available to identify problem areas in local government and rapidly respond to them. This is, after all, the guy you wanted to entrust with the running of the National Treasury. So presumably no advice is needed. Good luck on the election campaign trail. Guess we’ll be hearing a lot of singing from you, so that’s nice.
The premier league
Mr President, Supra, Ace and DD Mabuza might have told you how much they admire your superb leadership skills and want you to stay on for a third term. The 34.9-ton president of the ANC Youth League might have agreed. We really do not want to delay you from a well-deserved retirement in the rolling hills of Nkandla, so perhaps you could canvas views from others who do not have a direct vested interest in keeping you in power. You might also be hearing stories about people plotting to get you out of office. There is an elective conference in the ANC next year. Competing for positions is not plotting, it’s democracy.
We love your stories on history and the liberation struggle, but you tend to get into trouble when you venture into current issues unprepared. A case in point is your recent comments on racism, when you said the issue was being exaggerated and that racism had been defeated. This exposes you as being disconnected from the society you lead and the lived experiences of ordinary people. From the economy to social cohesion to homosexuality to teenage pregnancy, briefing notes are your friend, Mr President.
Even with these helpful hints, 2016 is destined to be a rough year. You are bound to be confronted with #PayBackTheMoney, #FeesMustFall and #ZumaMustFall. And who knows what the blue army and red brigade are planning to throw at you?
Just think, nothing you say will ever be as outrageous as US presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Perhaps he will get elected and people all over the world will be cursing themselves. Maybe then we will feel better and praise the ancestors that we have you Mr President. We can only hope. DM
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Adolf Hitler was the first European leader to ban human zoos.