Dear Mr President...
There are many people wishing to write open letters to register their discontent with the state of the nation which South African President Jacob Zuma represents. In fact there are a few enraged open letters to the president making their rounds on the web as we speak, there are many letters of people with broken hearts about the new democracy, people who feel betrayed by the ANC, the struggle and this and that. Radio and television personality Gareth Cliff’s wrote his and it was published this week, so has poet Nsiki Mazwaai. Still many have intimated that they are largely disappointed with the kind of political discourse populating South African Media these days. All of it they say, is just too polite. No one has so far spoken with conviction and authority regarding the state of the nation or the (un)suitability of Mr Jacob Zuma as a leader or President. Any other self-respecting President in any other country would have resigned following the damning report by the Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela (who by the way many of you have commended her on her ‘bravery” – I will expand on this concept later) you say. Here’s the thing: President Jacob Zuma represents you and I. He is the symbol of South Africa. And by South African I don’t mean the country’s beautiful landscapes and nature. I mean people, you, human beings who call themselves South Africans by birth, marriage, ancestry or choice. He is the towering glowing example of who we are as a nation. He embodies our present day character, values, principles, our abilities, our hopes and dreams, flaws, leadership abilities, decision making abilities etc. President Jacob Zuma is you and I South Africa. We cannot conveniently distance ourselves from him and this truth. Yes, he is responsible in part for the state of our nation, but we are all ultimately responsible for what Zuma is or as some erroneously believe has become. We created him and the current state of our nation. President Jacob Zuma encapsulates what it means to be a South African today, he exemplifies the character of the majority of the country’s citizenry if not all. In other words we are all complicit in the Nkandla/Rape/Corruption scandals surrounding the President whether we choose to acknowledge this fact or not.
PRESIDENT ZUMA IS RIGHT: IT’S NOT HIS FAULT
The truth is: when we went to the polls in 2009 to elect a new president we knew the calibre of President Jacob Zuma. He was unapologetic in his much publicized rape trial about his decision to have consensual sex (in his words) with his best friend’s HIV positive daughter. Though he apologized – his words rang hallow as the complainant was assaulted and vilified by hundreds of men and women outside the Johannesburg high court, while he danced and sang bring me back me my machine gun. The courts accepted his version of events and so did the nation. We accepted this. Even when his financial advisor and close friend Shabir Shaik was convicted of corruption in a case which implicated the president with corruption which led to his dismissal as the deputy president of the country, we agreed with the courts’ not guilty verdict. We went to the polls and put an x next to his face on the ballot accepting him as our leader with without conditions – for better or worse. Once president we accepted the prisons version that Shabir Shaik was terminally ill and allowed him to be released from prison barely serving his ten-year prison sentence. We agreed with the president’s version of events. The presidents’ comments on Africa also reflect popular opinions among many of us, “let them go back to their countries – what are they doing here?” think Xenophobia 2008. Then came Gupta-gate and now Nkandla. We never took to the streets in protest, we never called for the president to step down, account or be impeached. We sat and watched shook our heads and said such is politics and such is life and went on with our daily lives. We did nothing and therefore we are by all accounts and purposes complicit.
WHY THE SILENCE ?
Because we are the same – we act and behave in our own private lives just like our dear president does in public for all to see. We all want the good life, we all engage in corruption and support corrupt activities and organizations in our daily lives, we give and take bribes. We accept things we know we shouldn’t. We all want to drive expensive cars, live the lavish life, eat sushi on naked bodies, we all want to live in palaces and be kings of our respective Nkandla’s. We all are greedy, we want more and more, more irrespective of who suffers. We all want to do as little work as possible and get the highest reward for doing nothing. We force ourselves on women in private, we engage in risky sexual activities i.e. have sex without condoms. We all cheat on our partners, have multiple concurrent relationships, given the chance we’d all have many, many, many wives. We all just want to party, dance and have a good time while those who serve us starve. We all don’t want to accept responsibility for our actions. It’s not our fault that others live in poverty, it’s not our fault that we have friends in high places who can give us tenders, jobs, cut-backs, after all that’s what the struggle was about. We all aspire to be Jacob Zuma’s in our own lives. It’s not our fault that we have money and can buy justice and fund corruption. If we do not actively participate in corrupt acts we turn a blind eye to them, “it’s none of our business” we say. We remain silent. Why do we expect President Zuma to be any different from us? Why should he accept responsibility and take the high and noble road when we are not willing to risk positions of power and privilege for the same principles we expect President Jacob Zuma to uphold? Why should he stand for truth, justice, fairness when we do everything in our power to protect our lies /lives at all costs? We have remained silent because we are guilty of the same offense. We have remained silent because ultimately we also want the power he has. We want to do the same things we accuse him of doing with impunity.
President Jacob Zuma never lied. He has remained consistent through-out his term in office. Doing everything that we knew he was capable of doing since he was elected as president: as promised. We cannot pretend we didn’t know who he was, we cannot say he changed – he has stayed true to himself. When will you be true? Stop blaming the President for doing what you elected him to do. It truly is not his fault. The same goes for Oscar Prestorious, he represents all of us.
Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela was not brave, she did what any true friend would do, tell the truth without fear.
To thy own self be true. If you don’t like something change it.
It begins with you and I.