Rude songs to make you cry

CityPress - - Voices - Mondli Makhanya voices@city­press.co.za

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

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