Like sand through the hourglass: So are Zuma's days
Zuma’s presidency was just about time: about wasting enough so that people lost interest
Another day, another meeting, another postponement. This transition is starting to feel like an interregnum. And yet what better way to define the wretched presidency of Jacob Zuma than a confused and fractious void in which the powerful fight in secret over a place at the trough and the rest of us wait for some sign of leadership?
Then again, maybe it’s simpler than that. Perhaps, in the end, Zuma’s presidency was just about time: about avoiding doing any; about wasting enough so that people lost interest; about eking out a little more at the very end.Three months, he wanted: a “notice period”. He probably framed it as a practical compromise, a way to hand over the duties of state in a stately fashion. To a certain extent he was right about the practicalities of leaving office too quickly: paper shredders can only shred so much paper, and it takes time to explain certain new realities to certain Russian gentlemen.
But of course three months were never going to be enough. Three years were never going to be enough. For someone whose plan was always the systematic extraction of vast wealth for himself and his family, there is no such thing as enough time, just as there is no such thing as enough money. For people like that, the only time you stop taking is when there’s nothing left to take or you’re dead.News dies fast in an anxious void, and so it was, too, with the story of Zuma’s “notice period”. No sooner had it been reported than the NEC announced that it had rejected the idea, and the media moved on, hurrying after any piece of breaking news (or even slightly dented rumour) that might indicated Zuma’s imminent resignation.I would urge us, however, to retrace our steps back to Monday, and to pick up that hastily discarded piece of news. Because that moment – Zuma’s demand for three extra months – is a historical artefact. And one day, when some apologist being paid with laundered riches tries to convince us that we imagined all of it and that Zuma was the victim of the West or the CIA or White Monopoly Capital, we will be able to hold up that artefact and say: “No. This was what he was.”
So what was he? Simple. Jacob Zuma was no more than a kidnapper or a hijacker. Because only a kidnapper and a hijacker issue demands once they’ve committed their crime. Zuma and his goon squad held us all hostage, and for what? Some shitty money.
I don’t know if we’re going to have a president today or tomorrow or next week. But that’s fine. I’m used to that feeling. We haven’t had a president since Thabo Mbeki. I’m happy to wait a few days more.