Dear President Zuma,
I have become accustomed to congratulating you on one or other of your remarkable successes – whether it be state capture or simply the acquisition of a fresh wife – and it grieves me terribly to have to offer condolences this time around.
It is always sad when a democracy loses its president at the hands of a political lynch mob instead of at the polls. When presidents are removed in dictatorships, they at least go out in a blaze of glory. With a bang rather than a whimper, as it were. Although I dare say even courageous leaders like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi might have indulged in a spot of whimpering at the end.
I have to admit that at the time of writing this you were still pulling a Mugabe and refusing to budge. I guess I’m approaching you with the optimistic assumption that it’s just a matter of time.
If you still intend resigning – and it seems to me that Monday’s NEC meeting is a massive incentive – let me assure you that there is no shame in it. I have resigned from several jobs over the years. Sure, impeachment wasn’t my only other option. Nor was getting hounded out of the office by angry, disillusioned colleagues.
When I read last week that your pet poison dwarf Jessie Duarte had said a clear decision on your fate was urgent, I knew the cat was truly among the pigeons. The ANC’s top six do not use words like “decision” and “urgent” unless something pretty damn serious is about to happen to one of their own.
Then the quisling Baleka Mbete, who tried so hard to protect you in parliament for so long, turned on you and announced that your State of the Nation Address was being postponed. To her credit, she was kind enough to make out that this was at your request. Everyone knows it wasn’t, though. But that’s okay. When you’re cornered by a buffalo, you do whatever it takes to stay alive.
It’s a shame, really. That would have been your last opportunity to speak to the nation. To remind us, in your own unique somnambulist style, of how much the ANC has done for the country. I never tire of hearing the good stories. Every year it’s the same and every year it sounds like I’ve never heard it before. Perhaps I keep falling asleep. It’s not you, comrade. It’s a biological survival mechanism.
I was so hoping you would complete your term in office, not only because you provide a constant source of material and even income for struggling satirists and cartoonists, but also because … no, that’s it.
You have always insisted you’ve done nothing wrong and that the people love you. I made the mistake of thinking the same about a girlfriend once. It turned out that she loathed me. I completely misread the signals, as you seem to have done. To be fair, you only ever watch ANN7, read the New Age newspaper and surround yourself with people devoted to osculating your gluteus maximus. Given these quixotic conditions, how on earth were you to know how unpopular you had become?
What a pity you never really got the chance to experience what it must feel like to run the country. Right from the start you were fighting a rearguard action to stay out of court and there’s been no time for anything else. As a taxpayer, I have contributed substantially to your legal fees and I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but if you do go to jail, you can expect an invoice from me.
Listen, I was wondering about that meeting you had the other day with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. I’m in Cape Town at the moment and at some point will need to return to my home in Durban for a glass of water and a bath. I need to know that it will be safe. If you and the King are planning to secede the province and unleash the Amabutho, please let me know. I have seen the movie Shaka Zulu and, quite frankly, I have no wish to end up like Michael Caine with an assegai up my bum.
A lot of people are wondering how you managed to convince Cyril Ramaphosa – the pretender to the throne; the Capulet to your Montague – to give you a stay of execution by postponing last week’s NEC meeting. I don’t want to imagine that you both stripped off, coated yourselves in baby oil and wrestled for it. Damn. Now I am imagining it.
Not only did you get him to call the dogs off, but you also gave him a list of conditions to meet before you’d even consider stepping down. That takes audacity to entirely new levels.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed that you had about as much negotiating power as a frog dangling from a heron’s beak. Your options, on the surface, were to resign, be recalled by the party or face a vote of no confidence in parliament. Finishing your term seemed not to be among the options. And yet there you are, still behind your desk.
The NEC has turned into a nest of vipers and even in the top six you can count on the support of just the poison dwarf and Ace “Dairy Queen” Magashule. That’s not enough. You’ve already survived eight votes of no confidence in parliament. Cats and people like you get nine lives only. You wouldn’t want to risk it. Not with the likes of Vladimir Putin waiting to have a quiet word with you. And let’s not forget that your tame penguin in the NPA, Shaun Abrahams, could well drift off with the prevailing current.
I have to say, Jake old buddy, you really are something else. Africa has never seen a leader quite like you. You are neither democrat nor dictator. You are a man of the people with no mandate from the people. You literally laugh in the face of adversity. By tarnishing the reputation of the ANC, you single-handedly succeeded where the National Party failed. And that’s quite an achievement, particularly since it was done inadvertently.
Dragging a once-respected liberation movement’s name through the mud was merely collateral damage in your headlong pursuit of wealth. I don’t judge you, Jake. We’re all after money. What is perhaps more surprising is that so many of your comrades either turned a blind eye or helped you in your quest. That’s genuine loyalty, that is.
In the political milieu, you have redefined concepts like honesty, commitment and sacrifice. And, thanks to you, ubuntu now translates as, “I am rich because you are a Gupta.”
Don’t feel bad, though. You’ve had a damn fine innings. Longer than your predecessor, that’s for sure. You have travelled the world, met some interesting people from India, own a lovely property in Nkandla and have a bit of cash in your pocket. You’ve done very well, Jake. All you have to do now is stay out of prison. By the way, if you had to look up the word schadenfreude in the dictionary right now, you’d see a picture of Thabo Mbeki.
I want to see you and your old financial advisor kiss and make up. Play a round of golf together. Buy him a meal. It’s the least you can do. After all, it was because of you that Schabir spent a week or so in prison where he contracted a fatal illness which, miraculously, has improved his handicap.
So there’s only one question now, really. Is it better to jump or be pushed? Can’t help you there, old friend. Whatever you decide, it’s a long way to the bottom. Tuck and roll, Jake. Tuck and roll.
I got an sms from Standard Bank yesterday. They were very excited to tell me that my Gold Card is my ticket into some kind of draw where I could be selected as a contestant to play the bank’s new television game show where I could win up to one million rand. T&Cs apply. They actually used the word ‘excited’.
I’m a little less excited, mostly because I have never owned a Gold Card. You’d think the bank would know that. After all, I’ve been with them for almost forty years, most of which I’ve spent in the enquiries queue.
I don’t own a gold chain, ring or watch. I have no gold coins, teeth or nuggets. There is nothing in my possession that is made of gold. Standard Bank must be aware of this because they have never even so much as offered me a Gold Card, even though they appear to be under the impression that I am one of their Most Valued Customers.
All I have is a Mastercard, something even the peasants possess these days. When not being prodded across the counter at Shoprite, they use it to chop lines of inferior cocaine and jimmy locks so they may steal from those who qualify for Gold Cards.
It’s quite tragic that I don’t have one because their offer sounds super awesome. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be on than a game show conceived by the creative geniuses of Standard Bank. I imagine the challenges will involve remembering thing like your last three credit card purchases, your last six telephone numbers and your maternal grandmother’s maiden name.
They tell me that I “could win up to one million rand”. This is tremendously exciting. When a balding man in a cheap suit presents me with a giant R50 cheque while being showered with confetti made from the shredded bond agreements of repossessed properties, he will notice my disappointment and point out that the terms and conditions clearly stipulate that the prize is “up to” one million rand. Security will encourage me to smile for the cameras before escorting me off the premises. All I need now is the Gold Card. Which I don’t ever want.
It’s not just Standard Bank that has been luring me down the boulevard of broken dreams. I’ve been getting other unsolicited messages since the Gregorian calendar dragged us one year closer to the grave. The Nigerians have got off to a flying start and my inbox is saturated with offers of a handsome cut in return for helping get their dead father’s millions out of the country. And more girls than usual are threatening to explode with desire unless I get in touch with them immediately.
In other news, two once prominent law enforcers are coming to the end of their careers after sitting at home earning millions for the last seven years. One was drunk on wine, the other on power. I hope you enjoy all that free money, Judge Nkola Motata and ex-cop Richard Mdluli.
Speaking of free money, the department of social development has admitted paying the SABC R140 000 for a two-hour bum-licking interview with the appalling Minister Bathabile Dlamini. I find it more disturbing to think there might be people in this country who actually watched it.
This column is a bit disjointed because I’m in Cape Town and it’s 38 degrees. My eyes are like melted Frisbees and I can hear my brain bubbling like a venison stew inside its cranial potjie. I can see a Cape clawless otter lurking in the milkwoods waiting for me to keel over so it can slither across the dying lawn and chew my face off.
Also, the provincial government has declared April 22 – my birthday – to be the day the city runs out of water entirely. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than welding metal spikes to the front of my filthy Subaru, grabbing my grandfather’s World War II flamethrower and heading out to do battle with the soft-bellied water hoarders of Constantia and Bishop’s Court. They all have swimming pools and boreholes. I will fight them to the death. Or maybe not. I don’t really need water. That’s why Jesus gave us beer.
This is going to be an utterly berserk year both here and abroad. People in Hawaii have already spent half an hour waiting for a North Korean missile to kill them all. One guy saw the alarm on TV, drank half a bottle of imported whisky and went surfing. Sounds about right. To be fair to Kim Jong-un, the warning – broadcast by accident – didn’t actually say where the inbound ballistic missile was coming from. There’s a good chance a lot of Hawaiians assumed that Donald Trump had got the coordinates wrong.
Even Scandinavia is getting anxious. The Swedish government is resuming conscription and will be sending leaflets to five million homes instructing residents how to prepare for war with Russia. I imagine it will be a contest between Absolut vodka and absolute annihilation. H&M has its headquarters in Stockholm. The EFF should send over one of its infantry battalion when the festivities get underway. Those mannequins might fight back, though.
Squirrel Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president has well and truly upset the applecart, a cart almost entirely filled with bad apples. Forget the apples. Let’s call it a rat cart. Some of the rats are scrambling for cover, others are emerging blinking into the sunlight. Police minister Fikile Mbalula is one of the blinkers. Until December 18 there was nothing more he wanted than for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over from her former husband as leader of the party. As one of her most vocal cheerleaders, he had nothing good to say about Ramaphosa. But then, oopsie. Rat cart overturned and all bets were off. Mbalula now comes across like a bad actor who has been handed a script he’s never seen before. All his old lines are out the window and the best he can do now is spout a mishmash of gibberish while frantically backpedalling and juggling in the hope that his new tricks will save his job.
Last week journalist Karyn Maughan interviewed Mbalula, who goes by the elegant name of Mr Fearfokkol on Twitter. Put on the spot, this was his answer, “With the election of the president of the ANC it comes with goodwill because he’s been tough, he’s been talking tough on corruption. He’s been talking tough on dealing with issues in a particular way. So this new particular paradigm and environment we find ourselves in, it is good for the country that for once we are not pussyfooting when it comes to the fight against corruption. We are decisive and there is action. But I can assure you these things don’t start now, they have been there and they will be there so don’t get shocked … prepare your shock absorbers, it’s going to be heavy, and those who are corrupt must know the state is going to stamp its authority.”
Ah, comrade. Why then have you been doing the pussyfoot until now? Come. Tell us. The truth will set you free. Thing is, Mr Fearfokkol, the truth will quite likely land your spineless jellyfish ass in court along with everyone else who has the most disgraceful family in South Africa and the entire state of Uttar Pradesh on speed dial.
In times of great misfortune and uncertainty it is an African tradition to consult your ancestors and ask them to show you the way forward.
In the time of Zuma we have had misfortune in spades. These are also times of great uncertainty. This is a good thing. If you’re complacent in your job or comfortable in your marriage, you need to upset that applecart and get with the times. Forget certainty. It will stab you in the back as soon as sleep with you.
Change is in the air. Climate change. Regime change. Don’t be left behind. It’s a new year. Shed your old life and start anew. Sure, it might end in a homeless shelter. But it might not. Come on. Come and gamble with me. The odds are better than anything you’ll find in the Goodwood Casino.
First, though, I need to find my ancestors and shake their bones. I don’t even know if this works for whiteys. I assume it works for darkies. Last week Squirrel Ramaphosa, South Africa’s black Jesus, said the ruling party had been down and out, riddled with foreign tendencies and required ancestral intervention. Something or someone must have intervened because he was elected party president a couple of weeks ago. I’m virtually down and out and riddled with all sorts of things, so it’s definitely worth giving the ancestors a shot.
Thing is, Ramaphosa wasn’t consulting his own personal ancestors. He was reportedly shaking John Dube’s bones. And Walter Rubusana’s bones. Them be the bones of former ANC leaders. So the question I’m asking myself now, apart from why the waiter is ignoring me, is can one go about rattling bones willy-nilly when they aren’t in fact direct kin of the shaker and still expect sensible answers? Maybe it only works for people like Ramaphosa. After all, ANCestors, rights?
Can I go to the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris and shake Jim Morrison’s bones? Of course not. If I could afford to go to Paris why would I be sitting in this filthy bar writing rubbish for a pittance? Not to mention that the Lizard King would give me the most appalling advice in the unlikely event that we made a connection.
“Don’t take heroin. Don’t take a bath after taking heroin. Don’t date women called Pamela.” If he had told me this a few years ago, I would’ve listened to him on at least one of those counts. Too late. The damage is done.
It might make more sense to visit Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California, and rattle Steve Jobs’s bones. There are a couple of things that need clearing up. Like why do his laptop charger cables have the lifespan of a one-legged chicken in KwaMashu. Steve doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t care about any of us. He was meant to be immortal. He was meant to update his operating system, for heaven’s sake, not die.
A lot of other bones worth shaking can’t be shook because they got cremated. I don’t know what the ancestor worshipping business says about people who get burned instead of buried. Does shaking the urn have the same effect? Is it the same as praying with your eyes open or shut? Or, for that matter, not praying at all? Can I make a martini and shake it instead of the bones and expect the same result? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.
So the challenge for me, apart from catching the waiter’s eye, is to find my ancestors. Maybe define them first. I think it excludes parents. You can’t go from mother to ancestor in the blink of an eye. Even grandparents might be pushing it a bit. If you’ve met them they aren’t proper ancestors. From where I’m sitting, and I use the word sitting loosely, ancestors are people who died before you could get the chance to thank them for their contribution towards making you the genetic miracle you are today. By thank I obviously mean strangle.
I’ve always been a bit subnormal when it comes to grasping family relationships. Anything beyond uncle and my eyes glaze over, my mouth falls open and my heart rate plummets. If someone tries to explain how my aunt’s brother’s cousin is related to me, I am clinically dead before they can finish.
When I think of my ancestors, I think Cro-Magnon. Not so much upper class as lower Paleolithic. I imagine them in skins but only because I can’t bear to imagine them naked. Perhaps I’m going too far back.
As a white South African I have no traditions other than those involving the denigration and exploitation of black people. Sadly, those days are over and now there are no traditions I can call my own. Braaing, perhaps. Even then, there are darkies who will claim they were cooking meat over open fires long before white people were invented. It’s outrageous.
Look. I’m quite happy to rattle the bones and communicate with my ancestors if it means getting an indication of what I should do with what little remains of my so-called life. Communicating with the living doesn’t seem to help much at all. Might as well try the dead.
The problem is, I can’t afford to get to the graves of my ancestors. It would mean going to Italy, England, Australia and the Netherlands for a start. Those are just the ones I know about. Europeans spread their seed like wildfire in the early days. I’m surprised I didn’t turn out Catholic.
I’m a bit ashamed to say that I just googled Where Do White People Come From. What a mistake. I was dragged from Genesis to revolutions, from Australoids to Caucasoids, from the Semites to the Hamites, from the Third Reich to the Fourth Extinction. I could go on but it’s too depressing. It turns out that white people are little more than a concept.
Anyway. That’s enough about white people. In a few hundred years everyone will be brown. Or dead. I can’t do a global tour of my ancestors’s graves but I do need some direction so I’m going down to the bottom of my garden. There are bones there. Chicken and mutton, mainly. They must know a thing or two with the benefit of hindsight. Watch your back. Don’t trust humans. Have an exit strategy. That sort of thing.
Dear Comrade Jacob Zuma, Prince of Patronage, Fighter of Crime Fighters, King of the Courts, Defender of Lawsuits, Ambassador of Appeals, Bête Noire of the Bench.
I get the feeling you might not be around for too much longer and wanted to thank you for everything you haven’t done this year. You haven’t, for instance, declared war on any of our neighbours. Nor have you managed to turn South Africa into a united economically strong well-run country. The last thing the world needs is another Australia. You also haven’t succeeded in butchering the economy beyond the point of no return. Never mind. You still have time.
Speaking of dejection and despair, condolences are in order. I was watching the heavyweight fight in the North Gauteng High Court this week and was disappointed when your opponent Judge President Dunstan Mlambo won on points after going the full distance. I suppose some of his points were valid. “We are of the view that the president was ill-advised and reckless in launching a challenge against the remedial action of the Public Protector.” Who the hell is advising you? Steinhoff’s people? Lawyers on weekend pass from Weskoppies?
Other points weren’t at all valid. “His conduct falls far short of the expectation on him as the head of state to support institutions of democracy.” I don’t agree. When it comes to you, we the people have no expectations whatsoever. We don’t even expect you to support your family, let alone run a government. That’s what the Guptas are for.
To make you pay for the fight out of your own pocket seems damnably unfair. It’s not like you started it. Well, I suppose you did. But still. If you’re short of cash, my advice is that you put the wives in a cheap hotel and stick Nkandla on Airbnb. You could also borrow from your boy Duduzane. He’s like human bitcoin. Get in now before he moves to the emirates. Or Pollsmoor.
Quite frankly I don’t know why you appointed Mlambo as a judge in the first place. Were you not aware that he comes from the same stable as legendary southpaw Dikgang Moseneke and slugger Mogoeng Mogoeng? These guys are old school. They still believe in frumpy concepts like truth and justice and will never throw a fight no matter how much you threaten or pay them.
Didn’t you lose another fight against Mlambo just the other day? Yes, you did. He ordered your pet bipedal ruminant Shaun Abrahams to be put out to pasture and a proper chief prosecutor to be appointed by deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa. True to form you have now demanded a rematch. Please stop doing that. Your Stalingrad defence has collapsed like a two-legged dog with a middle ear infection and you’re going to reach a point where all this appealing starts to look like begging. It’s unseemly. And if you get slapped with another bunch of legal bills you’re going to have to borrow from your ex-wife. There’s nothing worse than that.
Unless you appeal the latest judgement – it’s becoming hard to keep track – you have 30 days to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture. Thanks to Mlambo’s inexplicable attachment to ethics and the law, the judge presiding over the probe will be appointed not by you but by the indecently honest Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Imagine if he appoints Mlambo? You might as well cancel everything and report directly to Zonderwater Prison. And if Shaun the Even-Toed Ungulate is ousted and replaced by, say, Thuli Madonsela, you’ll soon enough have those 783 annoying counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering to deal with.
Anyway, you might be bruised and battered, but as long as you remain president of the country there is still a chance of escape. By now I expect you’re no longer capo dei capi of the ANC. This must be quite a relief. The party is suddenly awash in rats scrambling for the moral low ground. It’s unlikely they will ever make it to the high ground, but you’ve probably noticed that a lot of colleagues have already started avoiding your calls. You might have to do the same to Atul and the lads at some point. I can’t see the bromance continuing for much longer. For a start there’s hardly anything left that’s worth stealing. I suppose they could still dismantle Table Mountain and move it to Dubai. I’d rather you gave them Limpopo.
If your ex-wife becomes president, you’re going to have to get her to abandon this Roman Dutch law business that’s causing you so much trouble. It’s a ridiculous concept. Have you been to Rome? They toss Christians to the lions, for heaven’s sake. That’s incredibly cruel. Lions belong in the bush, not the Colosseum. As for the Dutch, they smoke so much weed it’s surprising that they can come up with anything more complex than a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich.
Big weekend for you, this is. Massive. Big weekend for all of us, I guess. The only difference is that our personal freedom and finances aren’t dependent on the outcome. Not to the extent that yours are, anyway. If Nkosazana wins, investors will abandon South Africa but the stock market will go up as the rand weakens and all the rand hedge stocks gain value. I don’t know what this means, either. I read it somewhere. I don’t suppose you get much time to read anything apart from legal documents, although even then it’s more likely you have them read to you. By one of our grade four pupils, it would seem.
It’d be a shame if Squirrel had to win. And not just because you’d probably have to go to jail or into exile. All those ANC cadres who have worked so hard for so long to find ways to screw the system will be out of work. There’s a lot of competition in the private sector and professionals like the Stellenbosch mafia have pretty much cornered the market.
In Joburg alone a newly formed unit has recorded over two thousand cases of corruption involving almost R15-billion. More than 450 officials linked to bribery and corruption have been arrested and dozens more suspended. If Squirrel comes in and helps the DA to clean things up, a lot of institutional expertise in the specialised field of white collar crime will be lost.
Truth is I’m not wild about either option. I don’t trust anyone who is prepared to spend R18-million on a buffalo. Beer, yes. Buffalo, not so much. And he’s tight with Coca-Cola, a company with a worse record than my ex-wife when it comes to mistreating people. On the other hand the economy could do with some Venda financing.
I don’t like Nkosazana very much either. She’s short and surly and reminds me of my old woodwork teacher who used to beat us with a cricket bat. I’m also not convinced of her ability to exercise good judgement. I’m not talking about her marrying you, but there is that matter of cigarette smugglers contributing to her campaign. Smuggling I don’t mind, but cigarettes are the devil’s work.
Anyway, comrade, have a good Christmas. If someone gives you shares in Oakbay, get them off your hands as soon as possible. Or use them to start a fire. Burn your house down. Claim the insurance. Move to Mexico. That’s what I would do.