Episode IV – A New Hope

Episode IV because we don’t really count Kgalema Motlanthe. Sorry, Kgalema.
Don’t @ me. 

And so, pushed right to the very edge, refusing to jump, and defiantly telling us that the fall wouldn’t hurt him anyway, JZ finally stepped off into the abyss.

It certainly appears that Zuma is/was rotten to the core. And what becomes of that down the line is yet to be seen. In the meantime, South Africa is celebrating, and with good reason.

But then, perhaps we should remember the positivity with which the new dawn of a Zuma Presidency was viewed back in 2009.

And look how that worked out…

So, while I’m all about hope and optimism, and there’s always that background feeling of “well, he can’t be as bad as what we’ve just been through” (notwithstanding that Thabo topped an estimated 330,000 people through his wonky HIV policies), we do need to go into this with our eyes slightly wider open this time, as we were warned from an Ecuadorian broom cupboard in London almost immediately.

Of course, It’s worth noting that Wikileaks is full of BS and Julian is far from squeaky clean as well. No. I’m not linking. Do your own hard work.

I think the message I’m trying to purvey here is “Keep Smiling, But Trust No-One“.

And not just in politics.

Less shit candidate wins

A nation breathed a collective sigh of relief today as it emerged that the less shit of two candidates for an important job had won the election for the position.

Many people had been concerned that the more shit candidate was going to win but thankfully, that turned out not to be the case.

Sadly for those celebrating, they were so delighted that the less shit candidate won, they carelessly overlooked the fact that he was actually also shit, albeit apparently slightly less shit than the second placed candidate.

Thus, it seems like the nation has gone from one frying pan to another, and will likely now burn slowly and painfully rather than crasing directly into the waiting fire.


It’s a potential watershed day for South Africa today. Yet another no confidence vote on our rotten president in Parliament, but this one has an edge on the previous versions in that it’s a secret ballot. And the opposition parties even had to go to court to get that ‘concession’.

Albeit that the ANC has slowly been losing ground in our comparatively young democracy, it still holds a huge majority. So at least 20% of the ANC MPs must vote against Zuma in order for the motion to pass (assuming that all the opposition MPs also vote that way, which seems (mostly) likely).

JZ and his people have worked hard – in various ways – to ensure that they are well supported within the party. There’s clear evidence of corruption and wrongdoing, but a lot of ANC MPs are involved in those nefarious acts, or they’re willing to overlook them, or they simply don’t care. Previously, anyone from the ANC sticking their anti-Zuma head up above the parapet has been swiftly dispatched, so the secret ballot is an important step. But then what personal reward is there for being on the right side of history if you’re voting anonymously?

Will it be enough to succeed? Probably not, but I’m not sure that anyone actually has any idea. Apart from the fact that the vote might be quite close, there could be individuals who are saying one thing and doing the other – to the benefit of either side. It’s politics, hey?

Here’s how a secret ballot happens in the RSA Parliament.

And if it succeeds, what happens then? This.

If a vote of no confidence is successful the President and the entire Cabinet will have to resign. The Speaker becomes acting president. The NA must (within 30 days) elect a new president from among its members.

So Baleke Mbete as Acting President. Frying pans, fires.

And if it fails?

Personally, I think it will be a bigger blow for the opposition parties that they’d like to admit. This is definitely their best chance yet at removing JZ, and they seem to have high hopes. Of course, they’re going to talk up their chances, but when you put that public face on, you have to publicly accept the consequences if or when things don’t go your way.

That said, every time there’s a no confidence vote in Zuma, it damages and fragments the ANC further, and so they will surely go again. The ongoing danger is that by next time, the ruling party has worked out which MPs voted against Zuma and has moved to… remind them of their party “obligations”, and realign them with the JZ faithful.

There’s an air of expectation over Cape Town today. It feels like a big day. It feels like things could change. But no-one is willing to stick their neck out and call it just yet. Personally, I think that there’s no chance of the vote succeeding, but I’m just a humble bacterium wrangler and world famous blogger, not a political expert. And I really have no problem with being wrong on this one. None at all.


Whites want Zuma in now!

In an extraordinary show of solidarity with ANC President Jacob Zuma, a poll today* suggests that a huge number of white South Africans want JZ to become President of the country as soon as possible. While this may come as a surprise to many political analysts, there is a very simple explanation: pronunciation.

It seems that many white South Africans have become used to having a president who has an easily pronounceable name, like Nelson Mandela or Thabo Mbeki. The suggestion that Kgalema Motlanthe is being lined up as acting president following Mbeki’s resignation has caused widespread concern amongst paler Saffers.

My wife asked me who was replacing Mbeki and by the time I’d told her, she needed to wash her face and hair. Look, he’s a great guy and all, but I just can’t do a K followed by a G without spitting. In retrospect, I suppose it didn’t help that I was eating a boerie roll at the time.

It was originally thought that the speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, would act as stand-in President until the election next year. And that seemingly wouldn’t have been a problem for most whities:

You can just mutter the surname and then you look all knowledgeable. No-one is going to hear the difference between Mbeki and Mbete after a few beers if you say it quickly and quietly.

Other potential contenders for the post, such as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (“Phumzile” to the whities) and Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma (“That Zuma woman”) would have caused equal difficulties for white tongues.

What we need now is for Zuma to call an election as soon as possible. And then get elected. We don’t care about his policies. Frankly, it’s just embarrassing not being able to say the name of your country’s leader without covering the everyone surrounding area in saliva.
A Zuma presidency can save us from that.

In related news, ambulance service ER24 has also made an urgent appeal to Zuma and the ANC to sort out the presidential vacuum as quickly as possible, as it was hampering their triage routine in head injury cases. Spokesperson Daniel van Wyk** explained:

When our staff attend an incident in which there has been a head injury, they assess the level of  consciousness of the casualty using three simple questions: what their name is, what day is it and who the president of the country is. The current lack of a president is causing our staff difficulties and causing perfectly healthy patients to panic, as they think they are actually much more badly injured than they really are.

More later, sports fans!

* which I just made up.
** more make believe.