Solving the Zuma-Zondo conundrum

Andrew Donaldson on Edward Zuma's simple solution to the prickly political problem


SPARE a thought for Jacob Chansley, currently facing felony and misdemeanour charges for his participation in the invasion of the US Capitol. Following some soul-searching, he now claims the scales have fallen from his eyes regarding the man to whose cause he and many others had rallied.

Not only scales, mind, but possibly mites and fleas, for Chansley was that valiant soul with the moth-eaten horned hat. 

The face paint, bare torso, and furry headgear cemented his status as the poster boy for “Stop the Steal”. It also prompted speculation that, while others came with clubs, tasers and bear spray on January 6, Chansley was bringing brucellosis and maybe the rinderpest to the insurrection.

Sadly, life has been a bit rough for the “QAnon Shaman” since his arrest. He complained that the authorities have not always served the organic food he wants. As a result of what Associated Press labelled a “starvation episode”, Chansley has lost nine kilograms behind bars. He has now been transferred to a facility that will feed him in accordance with his wishes.

Importantly, he claims that he and many “peaceful people … who care deeply about our country” were misled into going on the rampage by Donald Trump. Chansley even volunteered to testify to this effect at the former president’s impeachment trial. His offer was turned down, but it’s unlikely he would have made any difference to the outcome of this process.

Meanwhile, half a world away, and more to the point, recent events at Nkandla suggest Trump’s hardcore supporters and those of Jacob Zuma have a great deal more in common than they may care to admit. This should not come as a surprise, considering the similarities between the two leaders and their personality cults. 

The same could well have been written of Zuma, particularly in the context of his 2006 rape trial and the ordeal his accuser, the late Fezekile Kuzwayo, endured at the hands of his jeering supporters.

Speaking of which, and as we all know, one of uBaba’s most cringeworthy loyalists is Carl Niehaus, that sad parody of a revolutionary. Like those who turned up at the Capitol in their best Rambo outfits, Carl’s penchant for cosplay is pronounced. A good rummage in the fancy dress wardrobe is apparently essential prior to venturing out in public.

Disguised as an important witness, Carl was in top form on Monday, at the reopened inquest into the death in detention of trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett. He had taken the stand to dispute evidence by a Security Branch policeman “in order that he not be allowed to peddle lies”. (Do please stop that sniggering at the back of the room.)

Alas, advocate Howard Varney, acting for the Aggett family, soon established that Carl had not bothered to read the transcript of the policeman’s testimony before entering the witness box and, as a result, had no idea of the substance of the cop’s submission. Poor Carl was forced to retract chunks of his “evidence”. 

Unfazed, and now in full-bore Rudi Giuliani mode, Carl later addressed a RET Gauteng press conference, where he once again expressed support for Accused Number One’s refusal to appear before the Zondo commission. This was more familiar territory for Carl and, ere long, as they say, there was singing and dancing from a small group of hangers-on and supporters of radical economic transformation. 

But were those MK vets who had camped out at Nkandla to prevent the arrest of the Thief-in-Chief and “protect him from such humiliation” in the same high spirits after a dull weekend in the sticks where nothing happened? 

As Carl put it: “When we met President Zuma [on Friday] there was a platoon of MKMVA there in full combat uniform. We will continue to have members of MKMVA in full combat uniform present at his residence for as long as we think it is necessary.” 

Note the repeated mention of the full combat uniform. This is clearly not the sort of outfit to be trifled with. 

That said, there is a suggestion, here at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”), that Edward Zuma, our very own Eric Trump, may have a better idea  better even than his previous better idea, the one in which he vowed to die defending his father. 

He now suggests he’ll lock up Pop himself. As he explained: “We have a simple defence. We have locksmiths, I’ll simply put a lock on the gate and nobody will get access. If they break that, then they are breaking the law and I’ll have to defend myself and defend the property of our family.” 

And they say Duduzane’s the clever one. 

With its Dad’s Army cordon of MK vets and Edward’s padlock in place, Nkandla becomes a sort of Spandau, with the Thief-in-Chief its sole inmate. 

It’s not ideal, and certainly not Palm Beach, for example, but it’s still a prison and there the sullen and sullied King of Nkandla may safely rail away at the world about bribed judges, white monopoly capital and whatever else it is that bothers him. 

And should Msholozi choose to venture beyond the boundary fence, a quickly issued summons to appear before the nearest judge or magistrate will no doubt result in a hurried scamper back to the compound.

Runaway horses and fowl play

Meanwhile, there’s talk that the ANC’s top six must now meet with the defiant Zuma over a concern that his refusal to appear before the commission is fuelling further division within the fractious party. 

There is, again, a similar concern among Republican Party leaders: Trump has been emboldened by his impeachment trial acquittal and his stated intention to make America great again again is reportedly further polarising factions within a divided GOP — the maw widens between those who want nothing more to do with him and those who believe his toxicity will prevail in the US midterm elections next year.

The ANC’s course of action is, however, almost certain to fail. For one thing, Zuma remains as stubborn as ever. In pandering to his whims, the party will never convince anyone of the irrelevancy of its former leader in their future plans, whatever they may be. Besides, it’s far too late in the day to reconcile with the man. Meeting with Zuma now is a bit like announcing a tender process inviting architects to submit plans and proposals for a stable that is to be built once funds have been sourced now that the horse has bolted.

The shadow justice minister Glynnis Breytenbach, for one is, is clear about the only acceptable course of action left in dealing with Zuma: arrest and charge him with contempt of court. And do it quickly. 

“Zuma has always, also during his Presidency, exhibited utter contempt for the Constitution and the Rule of Law,” Breytenbach has said. “His contempt for the [Zondo] commission that he set up is appalling and he must now face the full force of the law. He has slithered through life with no consequences for contemptible behaviour. It is time his chickens came home to roost.”

It may be for the better. Coming face to face with the consequences of one’s actions can be a life-changing experience. Just ask the fussy eater with the horned hat.

More from the menagerie

Enough has been written about the state of the nation address, with the general thrust of comments being that, pandemic notwithstanding, this was merely a rehash of the same old, same old. And, as such, not worthy of further comment. No-one, however, appears to have noticed that Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his address on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Ahead lies the Year of the Metal Ox or, in Squirrel’s case, the Year of the Sad Buffalo. 

There are those among us who are brazenly dismissive of such things. But not I. Given that I was born in the Year of the Pig, the luckiest of all Chinese horoscope signs, I prefer not to take chances when it comes to my good fortune. Which will surely come. Someday. 

As usual, the year ahead looks fairly good for me. One authority in such matters says of my luck in 2021: career — four stars (out of five); wealth — three stars; love — four stars; and health — three stars. 

By contrast, the experts say that Squirrel, born in a Dragon year, is going to have a rotten 2021: career — just two stars; wealth — two stars; love — three stars; and health — two stars. 

Kindness is not unknown with these religious types, and their predictions may err on the side of optimism. Do not, however, doubt for one moment that they don’t know their stuff. They list Ramaphosa’s lucky colours as: “Gold, silver, greyish white.” 

Clearly a reference to the mining sector, or what?

Golden girl

Among the middle names of Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the acting minister in the Presidency, is “Silence”. It is not a common name but it is one that Julius Malema perhaps wishes she’d borne in mind during the state of the nation debate on Tuesday.

Malema, now revelling in his new role as the Nkandla tea toto, was in customary belligerent form and came out, both arms swinging, in his response to Ramaphosa’s address. It was a contribution that, to all intents and purposes, could have been scripted by Jacob Zuma (with a little help, of course, from Carl Niehaus).

There were dark mutterings about judges on the payroll of “the white capitalist establishment” and judges taking bribes and charges everywhere of “massive corruption, money-laundering and racketeering”. These judges, the EFF leader warned, should be aware that they’re not untouchable. “They must know that if they continue to think that they are the law, but not interpreters of the law, then the people will rise against such few judges who have made themselves the law and are conspiring with politicians to deal with the opponents of the current establishment.”

Ntshavheni’s response to this blustered guff was rather sweet and on point: “We all know that when you start to make noise against the president and the judiciary, to the extent that you stop short of calling for an uprising against the judiciary, we wonder what it is that you are afraid of.” She added that “the rule of law will apply, with no fear, with no favour, even to to you, honourable Malema”.

I could almost believe it. But how much sweeter it would have been had Ntshavheni mentioned the looting of the VBS Mutual Bank. Let’s just say that Silence wasn’t all that golden this time.

Headline of the week

“Publicity-shy woman tells 7.67bn people: I’m pregnant” — The British tabloid Daily Star informs its readers that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is “having another nipper”.