Many South Africans have become quite concerned that the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in the United States are spreading to South Africa. But is that really the reason why South African president Jacob Zuma appears to be teetering on turning over a new leaf? Or is it that Helen Zille has been covertly sending Zuma subliminal messages through his breakfast cereal? Or… is it the impending doom that awaits the world in December this year? Or is it because of Julius Malema? Wonkie investigators explore the reasons in depth.
Firstly, after much analysis Wonkie has discounted the fact that Juju had anything to do with that entertaining hypnotist at the last ANC jol, beg pardon, conference. Further, there were no indications to suggest that the hypnotist, who was secured through a government tender process, was against corruption or media freedom.
Secondly, Helen Zille can be ruled out of the equation too. After many years of trying to train corn flakes to surreptitiously influence the ANC leadership, inside sources within the DA have informed Wonkie that Mrs Zille has finally caved in to the demands of Plant Rights activists and stopped her evil practices.
Since Hurricane Sandy and the impending end of the world are rather negative in nature, Wonkie excluded both these potential reasons too. There was some heated debate about this though – especially following suggestions that Zuma would only turn over a new leaf if the whole planet was imploding (the natural state of the world certainly seems to be heading in this direction).
With the usual suspects excluded and not much else to go on, Wonkie decided to consult The Guru for some spiritual guidance. After much meditation and navel-gazing, the answer arrived – much like how rain mystically arrives after you wash your car. It was all very Zen.
The answer quite simply lay in what would happen if the good President Zuma did NOT do these things: viz. drop the cartoon damages claim against Zapiro; and freeze cabinet salaries. The answer on both these counts are quite revealing.
Suppose Zuma pursued the claim against Zapiro and lost. His credibility within the ANC and the South African public is already on shaky ground at a politically sensitive time. A court loss which would likely be construed as validation that he is a philandering, loose-moralled, corrupt politician could well wipe him off the political scene. A victory on the other hand would not really add much except for a few bob toward his next wedding. It was thus the smart play by Zuma to drop the claim.
The freezing of cabinet salaries and the suggestion that big business executives freeze theirs too is a great symbolic gesture. In South Africa, such symbolic gestures are roughly equivalent to effecting actual change as far as the voting public are concerned (although this is slowly changing, finally). Take for example the great symbolic gesture of changing street and city names – simply doing that bought the government a couple of decades to laze around and eat grapes whilst basic service delivery stalled.
In this context, what’s the big deal about freezing salaries that are already running well into the millions apiece? The answer is that it is no big deal – it certainly does not help bridge the gap between rich and poor. The public brownie points the decision scores however is as described above – huge. After all, such a noble move can only be taken by someone that has a deep concern for the issues facing the plebs of society, right? Right.
Members of the South African public who are quick to label Zuma a stupid, immoral goat-herder would do well to gain an alternative perspective from Wonkie’s Jacob Zuma background article. They may not like him or agree with what he is doing, but to deny that he is a politically shrewd strategist would be a serious mistake.
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