"Nxamalala has already spoken, saying words of wisdom, telling the initiates they have graduated from boyhood to manhood and they would be expected to behave like men. They are expected to act responsibly as leaders of tomorrow."
It was Mini Gabavana of the Dosini clan at a celebration to mark the initiation ceremony of the king-designate of the AmaMpondomise tribe. Who was he quoting? Of course it was that paragon of virtue Jacob Zuma, "Nxamalala" is his traditional name.
What is old JZ on? He's just finished a rape trial where it was found that at the very least he had sex with an HIV positive woman under dubious circumstances, never mind his more than casual attitude to dealing with the worst pandemic in human history. At the end of the month he'll be standing trail for corruption with regards to a multibillion dollar arms deal, and he's still campaigning! Is he crazy, does he think the South African voting public are idiots that will ignore this kind of conduct? The unfortunate answers to these two questions are "Yes", and "Yes". The really concerning issue however is that he's probably right!
In a country internationally touted as a paragon of modern democracy it is in our leaders' interests to maintain a level of ignorance amongst the voting public. Dissembling, obfuscation and misdirection are the tools that keep them in power. This is by no means unique to South Africa, governments the world over have employed similar tactics to ensure blind fervor from their supporters, however elsewhere it doesn't always work.
In South Africa the public at large is told what to think. You might think I'm being a little melodramatic or making bold, unsupported statements, but here's a quote from another article to back me up. Sasco president Mandla Seopela said the students would stand by the ANC national general council's resolution that "he must be supported on the corruption issue". In this case "he" is JZ.
Now Thabo Mbeki is making statements that the arms deal was all conducted above the board with absolutely no government wrongdoing. This claim seems to exonerate JZ and it would be interesting to see what would happen should he be found guilty later this year. In all likelihood Thabo's proclaiments are simply a way to placate JZ and his followers leaving him outs no matter what the outcome of the trial. Sneaky huh? Well it's politics.
Recently JZ has lodged a civil case against the media for character assassination. I think political cartoonist Zapiro summed it up perfectly when asked how he felt that JZ was suing him for damaging his reputation. "What reputation?" he asked.