Zuma, biblical trumpets and all that jazz

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

President Jacob Zuma waves at residents of KwaKiki, Gugulethu, as he leaves after a walkabout as part of the ANCs election campaign. Picture: Brenton Geach

Cape townships got a full-court press of ANC heavies which just happened to coincide with the jazz festival, says Mike Wills.

Cape Town - Cape townships got a full-court press of ANC heavies – Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe and Gwede Mantashe – on the election campaign trail this past weekend, which just happened to coincide with the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

The entire ANC national executive committee was in town – spreading the geographic love, of course, by taking their regular meeting out of Gauteng, and not anything at all to do with those free tickets to hear Erykah Badu and Co at the CTICC.

It’s one of the great virtues of the jazz festival that it does attract a significant black audience, unlike many other major events on the city’s calendar.

The festival makes Cape Town, for a couple of days at least, a desirable destination for the not-so-new elite rather than a place which they generally profess a strong desire to get out of as fast as possible.

The real story is whether or not Zuma dropping in to shoot some pool in a Gugulethu tavern instead of lolling about in the Nkandla “fire pool” is a positive for the party’s election prospects in the province.

Are Cape township voters buying Zuma’s semi-mystical proclamation that “all I did was build my father’s house”, and his spokesman, Mac Maharaj’s view that the R240 million spent on upgrading Nkandla is a “non-issue”?

(By the way, Zuma’s father was a policeman, something I didn’t know until his comment sparked me to delve into his family history.)

Zuma was a divisive figure in this province long before Nkandla – his challenge of Thabo Mbeki was bitterly contested within local party structures and his supporters have struggled to assert complete control of the regional organisational machinery. In a simplistic paint-by-numbers view of the nation, a Zulu replacing a Xhosa president probably didn’t play well in the Cape.

But Zuma has an inevitable degree of celebrity about him which, combined with his affable common touch, still gives him a star quality among voters who either have not been exposed to much of the constant negative reporting of his presidency or simply don’t see it as important.

This means that, to the bewilderment of most of us sitting comfortably in the burbs, Zuma is still seen as a valuable campaign drawcard for the Western Cape ANC.

The same definitely cannot be said for Marius Fransman, who moonlights as the party’s provincial leader while Tony Ehrenreich roams about stealing his thunder.

Fransman’s desperate and usually crass attempts at rhetorical flourishes always land him in trouble. This weekend, at Zuma’s side, he pronounced that “enough was enough” and predicted that on election day “the walls of Jericho are coming down”.

Bible studies were never my strong suit but I do remember that it was the blasting of trumpets which allegedly caused Jericho’s walls to crumble rather than the hurling of faeces or the spouting of empty gibberish. (And in South Africa, walls tend to crumble because of shoddy work done at gouging prices by a tenderpreneur builder.)

I also recall that what followed the fall of Jericho was an unholy massacre of all its inhabitants, except for one family which had helped the spies of the attacking force, followed by the burning of the entire city.

That all sounds to me a lot like what happened within the ANC after the brutal Polokwane conference in 2007 and, if Fransman has that sort of thing in store for us in the Western Cape, then it’s a very good thing that every published opinion poll indicates he stands no chance of being premier after May 7.

* Mike Wills’ column Open Mike appears in the Cape Agus every Wednesday.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus


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