The year things fell

Dead white men, min­is­ters and heads of se­cu­rity tum­bled this year, but the man still stand­ing – Zuma – seems set to fol­low them

CityPress - - News - MONDLI MAKHANYA mondli.makhanya@city­

This was the year of fall­ing things. Early in the year, the coun­try was seized with a col­lec­tive mad­ness as peo­ple swarmed out of their homes and started at­tack­ing stat­ues. It all be­gan when an ec­cen­tric stu­dent trav­elled from the Univer­sity of Cape Town to Khayelit­sha to col­lect fae­ces “from Zille’s toi­lets”, as he put it.

After fling­ing the ex­cre­ment at a statue of Ce­cil John Rhodes at the uni­ver­sity and call­ing for it to be brought down, copy­cats sprung up all over the coun­try. Be­fore you knew it, dead white men were be­ing at­tacked ev­ery­where in the most fren­zied way. Some at­tack­ers threw rub­bish at them, oth­ers daubed them with paint, some chopped their limbs off and some at­tempted to phys­i­cally pull them down.

While the dead white men were fall­ing all over the show, liv­ing white men looked on in be­muse­ment as they con­tin­ued to en­joy the fruits of the reign of their fore­bears. Lit­tle did they re­alise that the anger was re­ally aimed at them – at their con­tin­ued dom­i­nance of the eco­nomic levers and at the in­abil­ity/un­will­ing­ness of the demo­cratic gov­ern­ment to change this state of af­fairs.

This anger was pal­pa­ble through­out the year as the younger gen­er­a­tion launched as­sault af­ter as­sault on what they de­fined as the preva­lence of white supremacy in so­ci­ety.

Clar­ion calls for the fall of white supremacy and for de­coloni­sa­tion of the coun­try be­came as im­por­tant as the mo­men­tous #FeesMustFall cam­paign at the end of the year.

Obliv­i­ous to this grow­ing anger, the gov­ern­ment of the day lurched from one blun­der to the next – play­ing with the coun­try’s fu­ture like happy tod­dlers in a nurs­ery school sand­pit. The self-serv­ing power machi­na­tions by the coun­try’s lead­ers saw the fall of Hawks head An­war Dra­mat and Gaut­eng Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya, In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate head Robert McBride, po­lice chief Riah Phiyega, pros­e­cu­tions chief Mx­olisi Nx­as­ana and tax­man Ivan Pil­lay.

If Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko and the gov­ern­ing party lead­er­ship could have had their way as well, 2015 would also have seen the fall of Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela.

ANC lead­ers and MPs bris­tled and foamed at the mouth when the name of the lady with the weave was men­tioned, and they stopped just short of call­ing her an agent of the Il­lu­mi­nati.

But at least Nh­leko had the grace to make us laugh while snip­ing at Madon­sela. And across the land there were heart seizures, asthma at­tacks and split­ting mi­graines as peo­ple fell over laugh­ing at the po­lice’s min­is­ter’s D-grade movie.

The movie, which Nh­leko took on a na­tional tour, was aimed at prov­ing that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s cat­tle and chick­ens de­served to live in lux­ury.

Fea­tur­ing a star-stud­ded cast that in­cluded the Nkandla fire de­part­ment and a bunch of lo­cal cops, the block­buster en­riched our lex­i­con with phrases such as fire pool, cat­tle cul­vert, chicken coop, dwarf-step­ping walls and soil-re­ten­tion walls.

South Africans were laugh­ing just as much at the con­tent of the movie as at the di­rec­tor, who had buck­ets of sweat run­ning down his face through­out the screen­ings.

While the uni­ver­si­ties ground to a stand­still, town­ships were in flames over the lack of ser­vice de­liv­ery, the econ­omy tanked, con­fi­dence plum­meted, in­sti­tu­tions were in tur­moil, race re­la­tions de­gen­er­ated and the na­tional mood turned. But there was one man who con­tin­ued to find this free fall very funny: the head of state.

The pres­i­dent of the re­pub­lic laughed his head off when­ever he was asked dif­fi­cult ques­tions about the way things were fall­ing in the coun­try he runs. At some point, he even cyn­i­cally asked: “Does my laugh­ter hurt you?”

He is so con­fi­dent of his power and con­trol of his party that he be­lieves he can do as he pleases – and get away with it.

Un­til, that is, he over­reached him­self and sought to im­pose the will of his bene­fac­tors and of his non­mistress on the Trea­sury – the heart of the state.

The calami­tous fall­out from that de­ci­sion is one that will de­fine the rest of his pres­i­dency. The hu­mil­i­at­ing climb-down that he had to do last Sun­day was a turn­ing point in his hith­erto un­bri­dled power in the party.

Hav­ing lost the con­fi­dence of most of the cit­i­zenry, who, sur­veys show, are dis­ap­prov­ing of his pres­i­dency, Zuma now faces a fall in in­ter­nal party au­thor­ity. It is a fall that he pre­cip­i­tated.



The statue of Ce­cil John Rhodes is re­moved from the Univer­sity of Cape Town’s grounds ear­lier this year

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