Is the Zuma govt no longer coping?

Graham McIntosh says South Africa is a difficult country to govern

The unrest and violence at Marikana is only one example in the past few months of a government that is struggling with governing South Africa. Another four dramatic recent failures of government are in not responding appropriately to Brett Murray's "Spear of the Nation" artwork; to the Toll Road protests; to the Limpopo school book saga; to the ongoing political assassinations. The one very important success has been the delivery of the first stage of the National Development Plan. 

The miners camped out on the hill at Marikana were an astonishing and fascinatingly diverse group of Southern Africans, many of whom are in South Africa as illegal immigrants because Government has dismally failed to protect our borders. Their leader addressed them in "fanagalo" and read from the Bible and muti men and women performed cleansing ceremonies.

All of them, as Africa universally is, were deeply religious but also superstitious. They were also resourceful men and used to tough and hard work. No women were allowed in their encampment which they regarded as holy ground and men had to remove headgear. They had already brutally murdered other miners, two security guards and two SAPS members before they rushed to attack the SAPS.

They had all the quality of the Mahdist Dervishes of Khartoum in 1884, combined with the belief in the supernatural of the Xhosa izangomas Nogqawuse and Nonkosi of 1856 and the Jonestown Massacre victims of 1978 in Guyana. 

The unrest and violence and the SAPS response at Marikana and the platinum mines in general, have seen "the left" get their knickers in a complete knot. That applies from the thoughtful Joel Netshitenze to the anarchistic Minto who splattered South Africa's New Zealand Embassy with red paint as well as many in the media.

Those very talkative Cosatu Communists in Patrick Craven and Zwelinzima Vavi have been interestingly quiet and so has Blade Nzimande. The complexities of the Marikana situation do not easily fit into the simplistic bi-polar dialectic of Marxism but you can be sure that the left will try to brand it with that outdated fundamentalism. 

The government is floundering around by reacting as though you can run South Africa as some sort of populist congress. The government has to govern and it must understand that people are not inherently only good, but are capable of being thoroughly evil and violent and they make those individual moral choices themselves. Sweet talking in the face of evil and seeking only some sort of social reason for bad and violent behaviour is a dangerous curse from the left when one has to govern a complex society like South Africa, which is still frighteningly violent in word and deed. 

The one good thing that has come out of the Marikana mess so far is President Zuma's decision to appoint a judicial commission of enquiry. The kind of judge that the Commission needs is Mr Justice Eben Jordaan who has been meticulously dealing with the Boeremag Trial.

In Zuma's reply to the debate on his Budget Vote on 31 May, he was clearly seething with barely controlled anger over Terror Lekota's spirited attack on him for his government's response of the "Spear of the Nation" art work. That anger resulted in the Deputy Speaker requesting Terror Lekota to withdraw comments he made that were completely in line with the cut and thrust of any "No Confidence Debate" in any vibrant Parliament. Zuma, in drawing parallels in his speech to the depiction of his own genitals to those of Saartjie Baartman one heard echoes of the black man's insecurity that Jimmy Manyi promotes.

He also seems to have been badly advised, certainly by Blade Nzimande, on how to respond to Brett Murray's very powerful, but none the less lavatorial, work of art and spoof on Bolshevik socialist realism. Zuma knows his background of an ntanga (boys' gang) in Nkandla where you can be sure he not only did stick fighting and herded the cattle but talked a lot about sex and girls and swam naked in the rivers. Furthermore men are discreetly, if frivolously, interested in their phalluses and also their sexual prowess and Zuma carries the secret admiration of many males in that area.

It was Tony Leon who said that "Jacob Zuma is comfortable in his own skin". Zuma appears to be a man without great personal insecurities nor with chips on his shoulder and communicates as such with people who meet him. For a person who used to work as a "kitchen boy" on the Durban Berea to have risen to be President of the most powerful nation in Africa, there is really no reason for him to have insecurities, including around that satiric depiction of himself in an iconic Vladimir Lenin pose.

The handling of the E-tolling Protests has been weak and damaging to South Africa's international reputation as a reliable financial partner. The Ministers responsible have all dropped below the parapet and government is now engaged in a completely unnecessary process of seeking consensus. The only person who has come out of the process with any integrity is Nazir Ali, who tendered his resignation but Government, sensibly, would not accept it. Now Kgalema Mothlanthe has to pull the irons out of the fire.

The Limpopo school book saga was summed up when Terror Lekota compared, in a Parliamentary speech, the skill and efficiency with which every shebeen and liquor outlet in South Africa is supplied every week with beer, but Limpopo cannot supply books to its schools. What kind of government do we have?

The ongoing political assassinations are a cancer in our society. Sadly they are but one example of the extent of pre-meditated and planned murders. The murder of Anni Dewani and the trials has exposed how easy contract killings are to arrange. Witnesses in court cases are murdered, rivals in business and taxi operators are gunned down, victims are murdered for body parts for muti, witches are killed, strike breakers are murdered for going to work, people are killed to get insurance money.

The killings by criminals of members of the SAPS, the violent murder of people during robberies and hi-jackings, are not "crimes of passion". A government that sits on its hands when its citizens are murdered at this rate, is not serious about caring for its people. That is why they need to consider giving the Courts the freedom, after proper due process, to impose a death sentence for certain crimes and certainly for killing a Policeman. Parliament simply has to pass a law and it will not be unconstitutional.

Graham McIntosh MP (COPE), writes in his personal capacity

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