Rude songs to make you cry
Imagine that you are the leader of the country’s largest political party, an organisation that has been in government since the birth of a new nation. By virtue of being the leader of this party, you are the president of the country, commander in chief of the armed forces, the nation’s biggest employer and the chief dispenser of patronage. You also happen to be the nation’s most famous husband, father and paramour.
You were once a hugely popular leader inside and outside your party. Millions supported you despite your foibles, chief among them your poor leadership, love of other people’s money and an affinity for dodgy pals.
They defended you and bought the lie that you were the victim of a conspiracy. Even when you wrecked institutions to save yourself, they stood by you. So prepared were they to turn a blind eye to your weaknesses that they even gave you five more years to sow further destruction.
In your second term, you were cocky and boastful, mocking those who had raised questions about splurging public funds on blinging up your home and pampering your livestock. You mocked your critics in Parliament, so self-assured were you about your longevity.
Then, for some reason, the tide turned. Even those from your home province, who you believed loved you, started questioning you. They hurled venom at you during a march on your party’s provincial headquarters. They chanted slogans and sang songs that contained unprintable language.
Remember the despicable things they said about your predecessor when you were trying to oust him? That rude stuff about his mother and her anatomy? Well, they were saying those things about you this week. You know how cutting such crude insults are when they are delivered in the mother tongue. They were disgusting back then, and are just as disgusting today.
But that is how they are feeling about you right now, the same people who not too long ago would have been holding night vigils and camping outside courts in one of the most bizarre campaigns to prevent a suspected criminal from standing trial. Imagine that!
These chanting people were not the same ones who booed you at the funeral service of the nation’s greatest icon two years ago. They were the foot soldiers of the tsunami that swept you into power. They now see through the deceit and wish they could have let you stand trial.
It’s hard to imagine that many of your former acolytes now spit at your image. But it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine, if you remember the saying about fooling all the people all the time.
Besides being aware of your embarrassingly disastrous performance as head of your party, they see your hand – rightly or wrongly – in the alleged manipulation of ANC leadership contests.
They believe that a desire to entrench influence beyond your term is responsible for the imposition of leaders who will ensure the “correct” person succeeds you when your term is up. This person will ensure your interests are protected; that you will never be tried for the wrongs committed before you became president, and that those in your terms as president are also not probed; and that the wealth accumulated by your family is untouched.
So, rightly or wrongly, they see your hand in the ousting of the provincial chairperson of your party last month in a conference whose standing and credibility is being questioned. They are concerned that, on your watch, their party has been reduced to a mafia run by powerful dons who reward those who toe the line and eliminate those who are seen as threats. They worry that this behaviour is being replicated in the running of the state. This is why they sang rude songs about you in your back yard this week.
Some of them also foresee the danger of your party’s appeal to voters becoming eroded with you as leader. Being fully literate and numerate – not concepts you are 100% familiar with – they would have read the recent Afrobarometer survey that showed that the percentage of your compatriots who distrust you has gone from 37% in 2011 to 66% today; disapproval of your performance has gone from 34% to 62% in the same period; and the public perception of corruption in your office is up from 35% to 46%.
Though support for the party remains strong, they are aware that the association of its brand with yours is damaging it. They are worried this might hurt the party in the municipal elections and that by the time of the country’s general election, the party’s brand will be rusty brown. Being activists and politicians, their first instinct will be to protect the party they love and ensure it continues running the nation. Their selfish interests will be to ensure their political security. They see you as a threat to this.
If you keep your ears open, you will hear the songs and the chants becoming louder. When you hear them, don’t fool yourself into thinking you are imagining things. The songs and the chants will be real.
He goes to bed considering a 15-year jail term ... that’s what you call a tough day at the office