Foreplay, Zuma-style

Andrew Donaldson on Vytjie Mentor's revelations about the President's approach to such matters


SO, here at the Mahogany Ridge, we now know what passes for foreplay with Accused Number One: telling the guards to leave the room.

Such was our cynicism and displeasure this week when word reached us from the Cape Town Press Club of the allegations of the ham-fisted sexual advances by Jacob Zuma on Vytjie Mentor, the former chair of the ANC’s parliamentary caucus.

In her new self-published book, No Holy Cows, Mentor reveals that an “old man” later identified as Zuma first tried to pick her up at the party’s consultative conference in Durban in December 1990, the first in the country since the organisation’s unbanning. 

After some small talk about diamonds and what have you — Mentor is from Kimberley — this man with a “funny giggle”, as she put it, became “very excited” when she tried to excuse herself by saying she had to rush off to breast feed her three-month-old daughter.

The old man then said he wanted to spend time with her later that evening, to get to know her better; he would, he thoughtfully added, make a plan for someone to look after her baby. Mentor said she walked away, disgusted.

Fast-forward a quarter-century, and the old man is now the country’s president, and still apparently very much a sex pest. 

Mentor told the press club how, in a meeting in his office in the mid-2000s, Zuma instructed his guards to leave the room, and suggested she settle down on a couch near the boardroom table before he apparently came at her like a flesh torpedo.

The way she told it, it was the stuff of low farce from some cheesy Carry On comedy. 

Mentor, cast as hapless ingénue, sits on couch. Zuma, in the Sid James role, sits on top of her. Mentor gets up, sits on another couch. Zuma follows, crooning in Zulu that she’s a big girl now and must behave like one. He sits down next to her and sticks his hand up her dress.

“I lost my cool,” Mentor said, “and I grabbed my handbag from the coffee table, and with full force and a mighty swing, I slapped him across his ugly face with my handbag and thereafter I rushed very fast out of his office.”

Which is true. Zuma is no oil painting. But, like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, the eyes do follow the women around the room.

There has been no comment, at the time of writing at least, from the Presidency on Mentor’s allegations. 

But then they do have a lot on their plate at the moment, and perhaps are trying to make sense of the suggestion, from the SACP’s new first deputy secretary general Solly Mapaila, that the President is some sort of fish.

Cue immediately that old joke: what’s the difference between a barbel and [name of loathsome politician or lawyer here]? Well, the one’s a slimy bottom-feeder, and the other’s a fish. 

Addressing the SACP’s 14th national congress, Mapaila declared the Guptas “parasitic bourgeoisie” and compared the family to a tongue-eating louse (Cymothoa exigua) and Zuma its host, a fish.

This parasite, he said, enters its host through its gills, settles on the tongue and sucks its blood until the tongue rots and falls off. It then becomes the fish’s tongue. 

“The fight against the parasite is extremely important for the communist party.” 

Indeed, if necessary, they would deal with the fish itself, Mapaila said.

This is a far cry from attacking monopoly capital, or whatever it is they usually do. But it is good that the SACP should concern itself with the health of our marine life, especially as government has pinned its hopes on Operation Phakisa, the “oceans economy” initiative to trawl our sea beds for a recovery of sorts.

Which, moving from one glad eye to the next, brings us to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s ambitious 14-point programme to wrench the economy out of recession.

It does, at first glance, appear to be a 56% improvement on the government’s previous plan for economic recovery, which only had nine points. But analysts are still not that impressed.

One of the new points is a proposal to partially privatise state-owned entities — which doesn’t mean that government will cede control of said SOEs to the private sector.

To put it another way: asking the private sector to buy into South African Airways, for example, while it’s run by the likes of Dudu Miyeni, the former primary school teacher who is the President’s special friend, is not likely to result in much. 

Apart from derision, that is.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.