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Dr Zweli Mkhize needs our empathy right now. Thank you, Mr President

Cyril Ramaphosa shares a laugh with McDonald’s staff in Johannesburg, South Africa on 17 March 2011. (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Foto24/Bongiwe Gumede)

South Africa is blessed to be living under the warm glow of an empathetic president and her citizens would do best to stop complaining and work on developing an attitude of gratitude.

Dearest Honourable Comrade President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa,

I trust this email finds you unbothered as usual.

I write to you today to express my immense gratitude for your decisive and empathetic leadership style. It was not so long ago that my fellow South Africans, vexatious lot that they are, accused your honourable person of being aloof, distant, and even out of touch. Hence, as one who has always believed in you, all the way back since your McDonald’s days and right through to your Sea Point promenade days, I was very excited to see that during Heritage month 2021, you picked a couple of teachable moments to lead by example, to show them your warm and gentle touch, demonstrate the true meaning of empathy and remind them of the ubuntu within: YouBuntu®.

African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures during the party’s 106th birthday celebrations at the City Hall on January 08, 2018 in East London, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Masi Losi)

They wanted to rob your former spokesperson, Khusela Diko, of her livelihood, just because of her failure to declare her interest in her late husband’s company, Royal Bhaca, which received R43-milion in PPE tenders, mid-plague. But you, in your wisdom and empathetic glow, you understood this for what it was, a minor admin mistake, and you gave her a written warning and a new job in public service. MyBuntu® bows before your elephantine presidential YouBuntu®.

Being a petty and punitive bunch of busybodies, my fellow South Africans missed the lessons in this teachable moment. Next, they targeted the good doctor Zweli Lawrence Mkhize. They took out their phones and tweeted — I suppose because it burns less calories than voting — demands for his head because he cared enough about his family and friends to ensure their financial well-being in an increasingly oppressive capitalist system. Evidently, this was the last straw on your presidential back; a simple letter from the presidency wouldn’t do. You emerged from behind your laptop, for this was a teachable moment that deserved to be addressed during that rarest of occasions, a sit-down interview with the president of the Republic.

ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on January 10, 2013, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Presss / Khaya Ngwenya)

In your finest ANC yellow golf shirt, with a notepad on your lap and ink pen in hand, iPad flipped face down, presumably as a symbolic rejection of distracting digital vibes; you gently reprimanded their characteristically South African petulance and reminded them to be grateful for Dr Mkhize’s superior contribution: “I’d like you to be considerate, because as much as he is implicated in the report, he has served the nation well.” Yes sir! Lead us Matamela! I’m no accountant, and I know it’s hard to put a value on these things, but if you say his service was worth about 150,000,000 of the people’s Randelas, split among his nearest and dearest, I for one will bow down to your superior accounting skills.

Lord knows the pandemic’s been tough on everyone. I do not begrudge Dr Mkhize for looking after the fam and his pals, nor do I begrudge said pals, specifically Digital Vibes’ Tahera Mather, whose dedication to mid-plague #selfcare required her to spend the taxpayer’s dosh on Smeg appliances, Gucci fits and a two-month getaway to Turkey, just as the third wave hit the country. Long-lasting YouBuntu® begins with SelfBuntu®.

ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa celebrating with champagne at the ANC rally on January 13, 2013, in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Khaya Ngwenya)

“I think, much as we want to be gung-ho and send people to the gallows and all that,” you told us as you let out the gentle giggle of a loving father reprimanding a toddler as yet unfamiliar with the ways of the world, “we do need to also recognise some of the things they have done.” Bless your heart, and thank you for always being so patient with us. Forgive us for we watch far too much courtroom television entertainment, and some among us take that whole “all are equal before the law” thing far too literally. Personally, I think it would serve us better to watch vampire shows and familiarise ourselves with the concept of daywalkers, the rare breed of superior blood-sucking vampire that can walk out in the daylight without harm, never mind deeds done in the dark and the corpses they leave behind. In vampiric lore, these are beings to be revered, not punished at the whim of lesser beings.

If South Africans understood this concept, I suspect there would be far more empathy and respect for the legendary quality of daywalker among us. Here be Sis’ Busi Mkhwebane, who continues to be harassed for alleged perjury, as though she should openly share the secrets of her nocturnal kind. Here be the viral sensation and amateur filmmaker, Knowledge Malusi Nkanyezi Gigaba, who walks freely in the light of day, long after his nocturnal activities of nights past did their bit to ensure darker and longer nights at Transnet, Eskom, and SAA. I hope those who continue to question him find their YouBuntu®, acknowledge HisBuntu® and “be considerate… he has served the nation well.” Mkhize now joins this elite group of daywalkers.

Taking a leaf from your delightful storybook, as it were, I took out my gratitude journal last night and listed the reasons I am grateful for the good doctor. As you mentioned in your interview, he showed great leadership during the Aids denialism era, and more recently he was the “sole voice of the pandemic”. Thankfully, he wasn’t the sole looter of public funds; which I suppose is yet another reason to be grateful. I’m happy to report that the more I wrote, the greater MyBuntu® grew. My South African glass began to look a quarter full, rather than three-quarters empty.

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela at the Cape Town City Hall on February 11, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

This evening, I think I might list a few of the reasons I’m grateful for the daywalking likes of Fikile Mbalula and Bathabile Dlamini. I imagine that this attitude of gratitude will greatly improve my daily experience of being led by your government. #Blessed. Thank you for all that you teach us Mr President. Thank you for reminding us that even as they point to us and call us the most unequal society in the world, we are rich where it truly matters, YouBuntu®. And if I may quote that jingle from your former business associates, “I’m lovin’ it!”.

Please don’t think me too forward for suggesting this but, I really do hope that one day you’ll consider letting me write your official biography; I already have a couple of ideas for the title in mind. I’m thinking… “Cyril in Wonderland”? or maybe “Matamela the Benevolent”? I would love to know your thoughts.

P.S. Not sure if you got my last mail RE:Proposal for Parliamentary Oscars, as I never received a response. Of course, I understand you’re quite busy, Sir. So please see attached here if you have a moment. 

Love, light, and YouBuntu®



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All Comments 29

  • Thanks Malibongwe, the scales have fallen from my eyes! I’m filled with the spirit of YouBuntu ® to hell with the poor – give Zweli a Bells and sommer a G Wagon too!

  • Great article, shows what a mockery Ramaphosa’s war on corruption is. How he can keep a straight face whilst feeding such BS is beyond me.

    • It appears that the corruption under his watch is being addressed ( see “ net closing in on PPE looter” in DM today. However why he has not persisted and dealt with the Zupta corruptions is beyond me. His presidency has turned out to be disappointing but it is a fine line he has to walk and, in all honesty, I prefer him in a position of power to any alternatives waiting in the wings – he does not appear corrupted by India, China or Russia and the “personal incentives” they offer which is a big relief in my opinion.

  • My word, I let out more than a few giggles while reading this! Our day-walking bloodsucking vampires, what an apt description of too many of our politicians… and the cherry on the cake “They took out their phones and tweeted — I suppose because it burns less calories than voting” 🤣

  • I have said from the beginning that Ramaphosa is going to be a wolf in sheep’s clothes. A snake.
    A liar and a protector of the criminal ANC cronies.

    The fact of the matter is that there is not a single ANC heavyweight who is not tainted.
    And they all have something on one another.
    They spend more times in meetings bargaining for their freedom than what they do solving the problems in the country.

    That is why there are still kids drowning in pit toilets 30 years after these criminals took the helm.

    They are a despicable bunch bunch. Every single one of them.

  • Thank you for this excellent article. The president’s particular choice of word in speaking of Mkhize’s resignation, was, should we say, if we are kind ,peculiar. “Honourable “is not usually associated , firstly with looters connected to pandemic funds, nor secondly,to medical doctors who sabotage their Hippocratic oath.But of course , in this topsy turvy world which is South Africa, we have come to resign ourselves to some abnormal things.

  • We can all do with some satire at times and this article fits in right at the top of the pile. Well written Malibongwe, love your work.

  • Tyilo, why not show that same empathy to 40M poor people in SA? Give them all R9M each.

    You don’t have Ubuntu. Supporting and simply forgiving the perpetrators of fraud and corruption makes you complicit and /or stupid.
    Diko didn’t know of her husbands scam, like Koko didn’t know his daughter scored Rbillion tenders from Eskom; like Cwele didn’t know his wife was an international drug smuggler; like Ngonyama didn’t know he benefitted from govt tenders; like Ramaphosa jnr’s gift from Bosasa. Shall I go on…..?

  • Tyilo, why not show that same empathy to 40M poor people in SA? Give them all R9M each.

    You don’t have Ubuntu. Supporting and simply forgiving the perpetrators of fraud and corruption makes you either complicit and /or stupid.
    Diko didn’t know of her husbands scam, like Koko didn’t know his daughter scored Rbillion tenders from Eskom; like Cwele didn’t know his wife was an international drug smuggler; like Ngonyama didn’t know he benefitted from govt tenders; like Ramaphosa jnr’s gift from Bosasa. Shall I go on…..?

  • Not only the president, nor his thieving, useless cronies, but all of us – South Africans are a bunch of lazy delinquents. The world owes us. We deserve handouts, we have rights – rights to rape and kill and steal and drink and do drugs and not vote, not care for our elderly or our children or ourselves. Somebody must give us a job so that we can have money to spend on made in China goods and fast foods.
    In Kenya, because of losing their jobs during the pandemic, people move back to the country and farm – small farms where they grow food and make a respectable living.
    Work and decency are swearwords in this country from the top right down.
    Ubuntu is dead.

  • Malibongwe, spot on! Excellent! Hits the nail right on the head! His Excellency, Matamela, is, unfortunately, part of the heartless day walkers! 😢

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