Zuma channels Trump to reinvent himself as St Jacob of the Unsullied Hands

Zuma channels Trump to reinvent himself as St Jacob of the Unsullied Hands
(Photo: Thulani Mbele)

As he pretends to be running for the chair of the ANC, our former president waxes Trumpian as he laments the ANC’s being ‘consumed by a patronage network characterised by corrupt hands exchanging money’.

I’m still reeling from the shock of Jacob Zuma’s speech last week, in which he made a courageous stand for accountability and honesty in the ANC. It was like seeing Donald Trump express some compassion for another human being, or admit he’d ever done anything wrong in his life. That’s how shocked I was.

Okay, Zuma said all these wonderful things as he declared his availability for the position of ANC chairperson, which used to be a largely ceremonial role – or perhaps one of gatekeeping and conciliation between the warring internal factions – but which he surely hopes will be a more powerful position when he takes the mantle. 

Oh, yeah, he’ll reconcile the warring factions. He’ll calm the looters frantically stealing another million before they’re confounded by Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s the present President, in case you’d forgotten. 

As chairperson, Zuma will guide the ANC towards a newer and brighter future, in which it is able to form an actual government, ministers who can do their jobs, a Parliament of honest souls, even SOEs that don’t drain the public purse… But now I’m fantasising. 

Zuma must’ve got a new speechwriter, because this isn’t the usual Jimmy “Mzwanele” Manyi stuff about how it’s all the CIA’s fault that Zuma has some political and financial problems, or even the usual Carl “Good Dog” Niehaus nonsense about how Zuma is still fighting for freedom from apartheid oppression, or whatever it is that Niehaus says when he’s not issuing tweets attacking journalists or working out which of his parents has died again.

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No, this is a new speechwriter, or new to Zuma. Perhaps it’s someone who used to work for Thabo Mbeki, who fired Zuma as deputy president, thus seriously compromising Zuma’s revenue streams. 

Or perhaps it’s a speechwriter who has helped Ramaphosa draft his speeches about the renewal of the ANC, new dawns, fighting corruption, getting in some new direct foreign investment, and how beneficial it is to go for a little run on the Sea Point promenade while conducting one or other election campaign.

Not that Zuma’s likely to commit himself to going for a run. He is, after all, suffering from a mystery illness, one that is in all likelihood terminal – unless it’s terminal dishonesty that’s killing him. There are suspicions, after all, that this mystery ailment is all in his head, just like his great service to the people of South Africa is all in his head. 

And, of course, the great advantage of a mystery illness is that it can mysteriously disappear as quickly as it appeared. 

Zuma clearly doesn’t realise that he could give a great deal of comfort to the nation by announcing that, yes, he has a terminal illness, and – sob, sob – he will be outta here and in a coffin by, say, April 2023. 

Obviously, this whole manoeuvre of giving such a speech has nothing to do with the values or views expressed and more to do with his bid for the ANC chairpersonship, or his pretended bid for the chairpersonship, or his pretended bid to be seen as pretending to aim for the ANC chairmanship. He’s just doing what he has done since he left office, which is to make as much trouble as possible for the present leadership. 

That used to be called trying to rule from beyond the grave, as it was called when Mbeki tried to hang on to the ANC leadership and keep Zuma out of it. But the Zuma faction isn’t using the phrase “rule from beyond the grave” in this context, perhaps because they don’t like to use the words “Zuma” and “grave” in the same sentence.

I don’t see why not, though. Doesn’t he want to be a martyr for the RET struggle? No? I think that displays a lack of commitment to his constituency.

And wouldn’t we like to see him go head-to-head with Gwede Mantashe, who is the present chairperson of the ANC, or at least that’s what the internet says, though perhaps it hasn’t been updated since the ANC’s internet service providers withdrew because they weren’t paid. 

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Anyway, Mantashe has surely been too busy blocking any development of green power generation to actually sit in the ANC chairperson’s chair and do any ANCing.

It’s all about money, anyway, which is the subject dearest to Zuma’s heart. You know, those eleventy million rands he spent on his home, the eleventy billion rands he let the Guptas take to Dubai, and so on.

Except he’s squealing about how Ramaphosa is about to buy votes in the ANC’s upcoming leadership conference. I think that’s a squeal about how the Zuma faction, again apparently led by his ex-wife, hasn’t quite got the funds to buy enough votes at the conference. 

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Ace Magashule won’t be in charge of the brown paper bags, after all, and DD Mabuza has been a bit out of pocket since he left the Mpumalanga premiership. And Zweli ­Mkhize, curse him, is siphoning up a whole lot of KZN money for his campaign. That’s Zuma’s money, dammit!

The former Number One is upset that the ANC has been “consumed by a patronage network which is characterised by corrupt hands exchanging money”. On that basis, he claims, hilariously, that Ramaphosa’s election in 2017 was illegitimate. Well, Mr Z, you’d know about corrupt hands, right? And patronage networks. And how, like Trump, it pays to accuse others of whatever you’re guilty of.

Zuma also referred to Ramaphosa’s present problems with the Phala Phala matter, the dollars in cash in a couch, et cetera. You know, the debacle that’s making Ramaphosa look like something less than entirely above board in his business dealings. 

Now, certainly, Ramaphosa is taking a very long time to get his story straight – way too long for someone who’s used to running billion-rand companies. It has been pointed out before that Ramaphosa loves to consult everyone and their poodle before he makes a decision, but this is egregious. 

And it does seem a bit thick for Zuma to be saying that he feels Ramaphosa should have been arrested already. Does he not know how South Africa works? 

If people were arrested for that kind of thing, before they’d even been charged in a court of law, well, Zuma would have been arrested in 2003, in 2005, in 2007, in 2010, in 2013, in 2016…

He should be in jail right now, as most of the nation knows. There, he could form a prisoners’ well-being committee, say – and, surely, he’d win that chairpersonship hands down. DM168

Shaun de Waal is a writer and editor.

This satirical story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Clearly an extreme case of the kettle calling the pot black! This buffoon with two brain cells at most is nothing but a huge embarrassment, a stinking disgrace and a massive ball & chain around SA’s neck. The damage that this thieving, lecherous and corrupt ignoramus has done to this country is immeasurable! Failed state, bankrupt country, a wasteland etc are the legacy that will be left behind once his “ terminal” sickness finally claims him. Yet he toyi- toyis with much gusto and tells his audiences in Zulu that he is strong as an ox! Keep your advice to yourself, Zuma, you are the last person on earth to point any fingers at anybody! Only your brain dead REThieves could believe such rubbish.

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