I am trying to work out if Jacob Zuma is condemned to be a one term president; shuffled off the stage by a shamefaced ANC leadership as soon as humanly possible.
I think he will be, unless he is saved by a titanic power-struggle that is not settled in time for the 2012 ANC national conference and centenary. That way he might blunder on, apparently happily, until 2017. Heaven forbid.
There was something endearing about our president’s deep chuckle at Davos last week after he defended his polygamy:
That’s my culture. It does not take anything from me, from my political beliefs, including the belief in the equality of women. (Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle)
But ‘endearing’ became ‘tragic’ when three short days later the Sunday papers brought us the slightly belated news of another happy event in Jacob Zuma’s life: the birth of a baby daughter to proud mum Sonono Khoza, daughter of Iron Duke Irvin Khoza.
I am forced to assume the story is true; that Jacob Zuma is the father of Thandekile Matina Zuma. He has neither denied nor confirmed the rumour but his record in this department would make it unsurprising that the number of his (known) offspring rises from 19 to 20.
There is little that needs be said about this matter, except maybe: Sonono is 39, her sister died of AIDS; Jacob Zuma is 67, the president of South Africa and the guy who infamously took a shower after having unprotected sex with another young woman, someone who was HIV positive, someone who immediately went on to accuse him of raping her. He married his fifth wife in January – bringing the number of current wives to 3. Enough.
Those who conspired to oust Thabo Mbeki by backing the then beleaguered Zuma must be feeling queasy about how this first term is going.
Mbeki spent much of 2006 and 2007 arguing (never directly but always strongly) that this man appeared to have his pants around his ankles and his hands in the till; he was just not the right sort of chap to inherit the mantle that had been passed down from Mbeki himself, from Madiba, from OR Tambo and a host of other legendary leaders.
Zuma’s Polokwane backers, that peculiar alliance of traditional ANC democrats, trade unionists, criminals who Mbeki had cleaned out of the state and BEE aspirants who wanted their bite at the cherry, decided to ignore the evidence of Zuma’s moral turpitude and take the gap he presented.
I wonder if those who genuinely wanted to improve governance or fix the ANC’s internal democracy and those who believed Mbeki had failed the poor consider this path we are on, on balance and after all is said and done, to be worth it?
None of the things that apparently so concerned them has been fixed. Most problems have deepened and the most serious problems, especially the rise to dominance of vampire capitalism and corruption, are significantly worse today than they were under Mbeki.
The trends might have been heading this direction anyway, but we feel adrift: leaderless and defenceless against the predations of the hordes of pirates who came along for the Polokwane ride.
So do not look to the president for the strength – of politics, ideology or character – to lead us through this swamp.
Take a trip through the blogs and discussions about this matter in the popular media. It seems that aside from satisfying his own needs and whims, Zuma has achieved one thing: he has become grist to the mill of racists and Afro-pessimists everywhere.
They love him, in a complicated and twisted way, because for them he confirms their deepest fears and hatreds.
And for this, we are all significantly poorer.