Sun Oct 23 08:13:29 CAT 2016

zuma's eye off the ball

By unknown | Mar 05, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma needs help, urgently. So desperate is he to portray his critics as racists that he has taken his eye completely off the ball and chosen instead to obfuscate the problem.

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma needs help, urgently. So desperate is he to portray his critics as racists that he has taken his eye completely off the ball and chosen instead to obfuscate the problem.

The British media onslaught on him might offend our senses as South Africans because we are so used to giving our leaders respect and deference they do not deserve.

In reporting on his state visit, journalists have focused instead on his conduct as a man and father, castigating him for his polygamous lifestyle.

Pejoratives like "buffoon", "sex-obsessed bigot" "goat-herder" were used to describe the president of the economic powerhouse of the continent.

What a shame that when we have the World Cup around the corner, with the world's eyes firmly on us, the only thing the world is interested in is Zuma's love life.

Instead of attracting investments to our shores, energy is being expended on the world's most famous polygamist.

Zuma must fire his spin doctors. By engaging on this matter he has fuelled the fire and succeeded in making this visit a circus.

Just when the storm is settling over this matter, he has gone and sabotaged himself again. The best thing to have done would have been to look the journalists in the eye and tell them that he understands their curiosity but this matter has been dealt with and his priority now is to explore ways of strengthening relations and building our respective countries.

In defending himself, Zuma says: "Britons have always believed that Africans were barbaric and inferior."

He said: "I fought to free myself, also for my culture to be respected."

Mr President, try another one. This is not about your culture, and you know it.

Why else did you apologise to this nation if you still believe the dictates of your culture allow you to conduct yourself in the manner you did?

What the president is saying about the superiority complex of colonialists and their disregard for African norms is absolutely true.

It cannot be disputed that colonialism brought with it cultural imperialism that all but suffocated the African identity.

History is also playing firmly into Zuma's hands because our encounter with colonialists has over the years produced literature that has indeed depicted our continent as a dark place, populated by barbarians whose actions are informed by savagery and an obsession with all things carnal.

But these historic facts are not relevant in Zuma's case.

It is no secret that Zuma was persuaded to apologise to this nation after initially underestimating the extent of outrage over his behaviour.

Zwelinzima Vavi is on record as saying Cosatu members, the majority of whom are black, were deeply offended by Zuma's philandering, not because they don't understand his culture but because they subscribe to basic family values.

These values are universal and cut across all cultures. There isn't a culture anywhere in Africa that subscribes to sexual affairs with children of pals, no matter their age.

In fact, it is in Africa that the maxim is most true - "the child of another is also my child, the parent of another is also my parent".

The Mail & Guardian quoted a national executive committee source who admitted that the president's apology was issued after the ANC and the presidency realised that the profound sense of displeasure emanated not only from white South Africans but black ones as well.

Are they also racist and disrespectful of his culture? If Zuma were to replay radio programmes, read letters written by ordinary men and women to newspapers and columns written by analysts, editors, academics and so on, he would see that many of his critics were black.

It is also not the first time a South African head of state has been to the UK on official and state visits. Struggle icons like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki once led this nation and as part of their duty had to promote our interests all over the world, Britain included.

If the reports about Zuma were informed by contempt for his culture, why is it that Madiba and Mbeki escaped this venom?

Mr President, this isn't about African culture and the rest of us, it is about you.


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