A final letter to Msholozi

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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.

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