South Africa

TRAINSPOTTER

Zuma, the idiot-king who will never go away

Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court where he is hoping to avoid corruption charges, May 20, 2019. Picture : Jackie Clausen / Pool

The straight shooter with a sick note will be the real subject of SONA 2020.

The injunction came from the Limpopo ANC Youth League, a gathering of superannuated enfant terribles determined to desecrate “the altar of Whiteness”. 

The end is nigh, friends: outfits as ideologically disparate as the ANC Women’s League, the Institute for Race Relations and PoliticsWeb all agree: Whiteness is finished in South Africa. While the EFF have taken January off to engage in an internecine mafia war, Whiteness’s main opponents are the supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, who are making a final stand against the numerous avatars of PW Botha, which include President Cyril Ramaphosa, Pravin Gordhan and the actually white new CEO of Eskom, Andre de Ruyter.

Let’s consider for a moment the movement’s figurehead, Jacob Zuma, the deathly ill Cuban Typhoid Mary whose blood runs with the poison of a thousand assassination plots. We know that Msholozi is ill because on Tuesday 4 February 2020, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg issued a warrant of arrest for the former president (stayed until May) because his “doctor” sent a suspect sick note claiming that he was too unwell to attend his criminal trial. The judge in this matter, Dhaya Pillay — whose major crime appears to be that she’s Indian and therefore obviously good mates with Pravin Gordhan — perused the sick note, and paper-planed it out of court. Since then, much has been made of the fact that Zuma’s sickness was unspecified; the doctor had also allegedly attended to deputy president DD Mabuza after another alleged “poisoning”; and that the note allowed the former president four long months of convalescence.

How could a mere judge treat Jacob Zuma like a common crook? This is a question asked by the great man’s supporters, resulting in the formation of a movement called, perhaps predictably, Radical Economic Transformation forces. This faction includes some of the more useless humans this country has ever produced, which is saying something. Among their number: head of the ANC Women’s League, Bathabile Dlamini; Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mzwandile Masina; members of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veteran’s Association (MKMVA); and an assortment of “provincial structures”.

Do these elements pose an existential threat to Whiteness? The more important question is, should Helen Zille move to Australia for her own safety? (Absolutely she should, but not because Zuma and his backers are going to force her into a re-education camp and teach her to grind samp with a mortar and pestle.)

After all, if we’re to go by his record, Zuma was Whiteness’s most stalwart backstop. Under his many years as either deputy president or president, he furiously protected the status quo, mostly so that the status quo would furiously protect his intention to loot the country into penury. The blue-chip consultancy firm McKinsey lied its way into Eskom’s coffers; the auditing/consulting kingpins KPMG helped destroy the South African Revenue Service. Firms like Goldman Sachs, whose former SA leader Colin Coleman has now wisely decamped to American academia, routinely promised at least 2.5% year on year growth and swore the ANC had a good story to tell. Most years, their projections were obscenely misaligned with reality. 

But for an actual working model of Zuma’s praxis, look no further than Sassa, the government agency tasked with dispensing social grants to South Africa’s poorest of the poor. Famously and illegally, Sassa retained a firm called Net1, a white monopoly outfit that was mystically unfireable when Bathabile Dlamini controlled the agency during the Zuma years through the Department of Social Development. It was recently reported in these pages that, “none of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies which partnered with [Net1’s] Cash Paymaster Services in the social grants payment contract actually rendered any services”.

In other words, an allegedly corrupt engagement with a “white” company resulted in knock-on corruption down the “black” value chain, where everything was stolen at both the formal and informal economic levels in an orgy of Rainbow Nation thievery.

Did Zuma ever call out these white firms for their misbehaviour? He did not. They aided and abetted his looting machine, and the president smiled benevolently in their presence. For most of his sordid reign, he was the least bigoted person in the country. The only colour the man saw was the glorious pink of a million Madibas.

Unsurprisingly, Jacob Zuma’s pals — white, black and in-between — became the de facto rulers of this country, picking ministers and snorting up government tenders like mounds of bargain-basement amphetamines.

So let’s agree that Zuma was magnificent when it came to protecting Whiteness. How did he do with South Africa’s majority black population? 

Here his record is not so great. Unemployment during his tenure grew from 22.5% to around 28%, with youth unemployment flirting with the 50% mark. (Both are higher now — surprise surprise, his fuck ups will take generations to fix.) Since the Great Recession; the economy has grown a pathetic 1.5% year on year; electricity prices have increased 350%; public debt as a percentage of GDP ballooned from around 27% to over 53%; per capita GDP dipped from $8,066 per year in 2011 to $6,268 in 2017. The International Monetary Fund, soon to be bailing out our non-existent economy, released a series of six graphs that depict the inequality that stubbornly persists across this land. 

Travel out to the rural or peri-urban areas of this country and witness the competition. It’s a Hellscape out there. There’s no water. Like Nigeria or the Central African Republic, we are slowly adapting to energy poverty. It’s not that the pie needs to be shared — it’s that there is no pie. 

“Red carpets, VIP treatments, and courteous treatments are given to apartheid murderers such as [former president FW] De Klerk. But President Zuma’s illness is trivialised and turned into a joke,” spat Bathabile Dlamini. And you know what — she’s right. But she should also remember that the ANC did not win a liberation war — they were party to a negotiated settlement that, among other things, allowed free passage to the bastards who ran the apartheid regime. There has been much ahistorical revisionism regarding Nelson Mandela’s record as negotiator-in-chief, most of it ignoring the fact that he did not retain the monopoly of violence. That, unfortunately, was the privilege of the bad guys.

Instead, the whole point of the democratic project was that it would serve as a hard reset — a moral realignment that would be framed around racial equality and rule of law. The ANC were never particularly committed to this endeavour, but a hard break with the past became impossible under Zuma. The economically empowered flourished — in this country that cuts largely along racial lines. Everyone else was decimated.

This is Zuma’s real legacy — he has left a wasteland of dead opportunity, in which South Africans must engage in a Hobbesian battle for scraps that aren’t worth the effort. He destroyed this country’s future, and he’s so useless that he didn’t even steal himself a future in return. The image he released on Twitter following the sick note debacle depicted an old man pointing a pop gun into the wilderness, his belly spilling over onto his sad dad loafers.

So Zuma as the frontman in the fight against Whiteness? That’s absurd.

Zuma is Tucker Carlson’s wet dream. He made Helen Zille look viable, for Christ’s sake. Anything less than a full-page thank you in the Daily Stormer would be an insult. And President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA will feature Zuma in every single line, as the reformers in the ANC try to lift this country out of the pit latrine they dug at the instruction of their former boss. DM

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