President Jacob Zuma’s nine-step programme to save the economy has a lot in common with AA’s 12-step programme to save alcoholics. They both rely on the intervention of a higher power and … well, that’s about it.
Watching the State of the Nation address last week was like being on drugs. There was the frisson of anticipation, the big build-up, the climax and the come-down. Maybe I’m thinking of sex more than drugs. I often get the two confused. Would you like to sleep with me? Yes please, where do I suck? It happens.
Helen Zille was there wearing purple and a smirk. I can’t remember when last I heard her barking about some or other issue. Then again, I’d also go very quiet if I was earning R1.7m a year. I’d be so quiet that you wouldn’t even know I was here. Which I wouldn’t be. I’d be in Madagascar. Not among the poor, obviously.
I love the pomp and ceremony that surrounds the State of the Nation address every year. There is nothing quite like the smell of teargas and the sound of stun grenades as one runs through the Company Gardens to avoid being beaten or arrested. It’s what makes democracy great.
There were motorcycle cops, the cavalry and a fleet of black snub-nosed BMWs. Cannons were fired. There was screaming. Ambulances raced through the debris. A weeping mother held her dead child … what? Oh. I sat on the remote. That was Aleppo.
I love how our elected representatives still waddle down the traditional red carpet towards that holy chamber of promises and lies. The early colonialists used a white carpet, of course. They only switched to red when it became too much of a bother to get the bloodstains out.
Zuma and his femme du jour walked grimly down the carpet. I have seen pictures of dictators walking to their executions with happier faces than theirs.
The session started with an “opportunity for silent prayer”. It lasted for exactly six seconds. This pretty much limits you to, “Jesus, please let this be over quickly.”
The EFF behaved like attention deficit children deprived of their Ritalin and Terror Lekota had the good sense to get thrown out just as happy hour started at the pub around the corner.
After watching Zuma pick his way through his speech, approaching every syllable and number with the trepidation of an explosives expert approaching a landmine, I switched off. But not before Speaker Baleka Mbete’s hectoring tone got my skin crawling. Shame. Her prosopagnosia has got a lot worse since I last saw her in parliament. She barely recognises anyone any more.
Anyway. We already know what the state of the nation is. Unlike Jacob Zupta, we actually live in the belly of this savage beast.