What will the Good Book say?
Just a few hours after he had conceded through his lawyers that the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) decision in 2009 to drop charges against him was irrational, President Jacob Zuma threatened to write a book.
While visiting the Interdenominational African Ministers Association of SA in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, for much-needed prayers, Zuma told worshippers that “maybe when I write a book I will talk about this guy” from Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.
It was not the first time that Zuma had threatened to write a book, so we must take his claim seriously. Presumably, he intends to dictate the book to someone who will write it because, as we all know ... nah, let’s leave it.
Anyway, when the president last made the threat – last year – he was rallying supporters in KwaZuluNatal to back him through his troubles. He said then that, in the book, he would reveal the identity of the sorcerers who had made his life a living hell.
“One day, when I am retired, I will write my book and you will realise why I said what I said. This is because I know where things went wrong. I know who the witches at work are. It is fine when the enemy is at a distance, but when it is your friend, it is not easy because they know your weaknesses,” said Zuma, ominously.
It was not the first time he had made that threat, either. More than a decade ago, when his fraud and corruption charges were still fresh, Zuma said he would one day tell the whole story behind his so-called persecution. Back then, he also said that he could not wait to get his day in court so that he could clear his pristine name.
Eight years after ANC heavyweights shamefully strong-armed the NPA into dropping charges against Zuma, the man may at last get his day in court.
If the judges at the Supreme Court of Appeal dismiss the Zuma legal team’s bid to get him a second bite at the representations cherry, NPA head Shaun Abrahams will have no choice but to refer to Number One as Accused Number One.
So, when (and if) the Book of Jacob is eventually written, it will not end with a fond farewell to the people from the top of the Union Buildings’ lawns. If it is written truthfully, it will not be a romantic story of a herdboy who went on to become a struggle hero and a leader who rubbed shoulders with global leaders and royalty.
Inasmuch as the “writer” will want to tell a sanitised story of his journey from poverty to power, a truthful Book of Jacob would have to be dominated by the flight of morality from the former herdboy’s conscience and the influx of vile filth into that space.
An honest book will take us into his seedy relationships with grungy businesspeople, of whom convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik is but one. It will show us how he managed to hoodwink a noble organisation into believing he could be the custodian of its values and principles.
In those pages, the reader will learn how the man who crafted the image of being a people’s champion was, in fact, so greedy that, if it was possible, he would have reached into their gullets to steal their food.
A frank Book of Jacob would also tell the story of a man who squandered a golden second chance. Despite his corrupt dealings, his party rescued him from political exile and elected him to its leadership in 2007.
In 2009, it saved him from a humiliating criminal trial that would, in all likelihood, have resulted in his sharing communal showers with heavily tattooed members of the 26 and 28 prison gangs.
Then the forgiving people of the republic elevated him to the highest office in the land, believing he had learnt his lesson and would henceforth behave.
What the party and the electorate did not realise was that this man was so gutted of morality, he could not tell right from wrong. The message that he received from the second chance and his being given the code to a bigger safe was that he was home and dry, and could do as he wished.
So, he swapped Shaik – who, to be fair, was a selfstarting entrepreneur with a terrible penchant for short cuts and quick wins by any means necessary – for a parasitic family that just wanted to suck the state dry. Where Zuma’s other dodgy friends added some value to the economy through their enterprises, the main beneficiaries of Zuma’s second chance were a family that were only skilled at taking.
Such a book would also tell of how the 10 years spent defending an incorrigible man had destroyed a 105-year-old institution, wrecked its relationship with its allies and torn apart a workers’ movement that was built on blood and sweat.
It would tell of an economy that was reduced to a tortoise and a society that was taught that this “ethics what-what” was really not that cool.
Those looking forward to Zuma standing trial – which should happen – should also brace themselves for scenes uglier than those we witnessed a decade ago, when the “man of the people” rallied supporters to his cause.
That support may have dwindled significantly since then, but those who remain are cultists who will do anything for their cult figure.
This is another reason the final chapter of this book may not be pleasant reading.