President Jacob Zuma jubilates after surviving a no-confidence vote by MPs. AP Photo
On Tuesday night, it felt like the entire country was watching the vote of no confidence playing out in Parliament. It might have been an auspicious for numerologists, the eighth one against Jacob Zuma in the eighth year of his tenure in the eighth month of this year.

Perhaps he is the cat with nine lives.

The diviners, the believers and the plotters were out in force almost immediately afterwards, trying to find out who the turncoats were (and it looks like there were a helluva lot more than anyone cares to mention) in the ANC who, in the greatest of ironies, voted according to their conscience as the Speaker - who is also the party chairperson - had enjoined them when she granted the House a secret ballot on the debate.

Zuma, by his own admission, will be out come December at the party’s elective conference, but he’s got a mighty legal battle ahead of him beforehand; the opposition DA’s trying to dissolve Parliament and force a general election, the Constitutional Court has to decide whether there are grounds to impeach him, and then there’s still the issue of the 783 corruption charges, which the DA has asked to be reinstated forthwith.

On Wednesday, he went to Kimberley to commemorate Women’s Day where he appeared typically unfazed by the rigours of the night before, his only remark of note being that men who attack women should be prosecuted - a reasonable assertion given that his own Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana stands accused of doing precisely that, exactly three days before in a Joburg night club, but at that time was still at liberty.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and Johnny Clegg was bidding farewell to the faithful at Montecasino’s Teatro, a place Bell Pottinger might well have described as a mecca for white minority capital. Indeed, the overwhelming hue of the minority middle-aged audience fitted the bill and the price of the tickets, to say nothing of the merchandise, certainly required wodges of capital.

And it was worth every cent.

Clegg’s a white man, whose friends in a very foreign world of Joburg’s Yeoville were domestic servants. They were mostly illiterate. They taught him to speak isiZulu like them, with all the bawdiness of young men. They taught him to play maskandi guitar and the street accordion - all tuned back to front and unplayable by white norms.

He unashamedly sought affirmation of his masculinity in Zulu ritual, in dancing and stick fighting. He dressed in animal skins and amulets, he tossed his 12-string classical guitar for a six-string box guitar with bottle tops and beads. His first breakout hit Woza, Friday was banned on Radio Zulu - for using English words - but he topped the charts on Radio Sotho instead and soon started touring all the way north to Seshego outside Polokwane.

It’s an irony that’s not unique.

Zuma became deputy president to Thabo Mbeki, precisely because he wasn’t a threat and we all know how that ended.

Clegg is as proudly culturally Zulu as Zuma, - he’s probably done more to internationally further knowledge of this proud culture than anyone else. In fact, there are probably more pictures of Clegg in loin skins and rattles holding a shield in one hand and a kierie and an assegai in the other than there are of the president in the same regalia.

He’s proud of his family, as Zuma is of his.

On Wednesday night, one of Clegg’s sons did all the audio visuals of the compelling show while the other, a musician in his own right, joined his dad for a touching duet about fathers and sons.

On Tuesday night, Zuma’s son became the star of the show.

The opposition EFF kept referring to the president as uBaba ka Duduzane (Duduzane’s dad), in an elephantine bid to place him well within the state capture frame through his son’s inextricable business relationship with the Gupta family and the unrebutted tales of millions that have flowed directly to him.

On Wednesday night, Clegg came on for an encore to play Asimbonanga, perhaps the best known and most storied of his three decades of work. It’s another song that was banned, but became an anthem for the Struggle, a litany of those like Nelson Mandela - and Zuma - imprisoned on Robben Island, but also all those who were killed in detention by the apartheid regime.

Above the stage, video footage cut from Robben Island and pictures of Mandela and others as prisoners to Clegg performing Asimbonanga in France only to be joined on stage by Madiba himself. Mandela was lively and jovial as we all remember him, hugging Clegg and speaking off the cuff into the microphone.

The last two memories I have of Zuma with Mandela are the 2010 World Cup and his sick bed in Houghton. In both, Mandela is a husk of the giant he was - polar opposites of the man in the video.

Clegg doesn’t make judgements of what went on this week.

He speaks only of the difficulties of loyalties in a changing world and the purity of purpose that was the Struggle against apartheid.

He speaks of a world without race, a concept he’s devoted his entire life too, as he schools a predominantly white audience on what it was to cross over and become accepted as a white African in a time when the government trumpeted a dogma of swart gevaar and isolationism.

Today, the government shouts white monopoly capital and white privilege and the new intelligentsia sneer at what they deride as “Rainbowism”, where cultural diversity and appropriation are to be frowned upon and discouraged.

On the back of my concert T-shirt is a list of the gigs Clegg still has to play as he bids his fans goodbye.

There’s the UK, Europe, North America, Australia. There’s even a stop in Dubai in the UAE en route. If the cynics are to be believed, Dubai’s high on the president’s list too - but as a final destination he won’t be in transit.

The show finally ends, without anyone wanting it to end, against the backdrop of an incredible South African vista, with the words “Where did the time go? Where did my life go?” It’s a question we could all be asking ourselves.

As the crowd sings “Bye, Bye, December African Rain”, it sounds eerily like an omen.

Saturday Star