Stop wor­ry­ing about a Zuma pres­i­dency

You could be liv­ing un­der Ber­lus­coni

Finweek English Edition - - Something Els - FRIK ELS frike@fin­

I LOVE ITALY and the Ital­ians. How much poorer would the world be with­out Prada, penne, pa­parazzi and Peroni?* I mean no dis­re­spect to those liv­ing la dolce vita, but for South Africans fol­low­ing the coun­try’s grad­ual Zu­mafi­ca­tion with gath­er­ing gloom, Italy pro­vides some per­spec­tive. More specif­i­cally, the coun­try’s Prime Min­is­ter – Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni – may just make you look at po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments here with re­newed op­ti­mism.

You’re wor­ried that jus­tice will not be served in the cor­rup­tion trial of Ja­cob Zuma – and rightly so. But have a look at the ca­reer of Sil­vio: He’s back in charge of Italy for the third time, hav­ing man­aged to es­cape his day in court over al­le­ga­tions of fraud and bribery stretch­ing back more than a decade.

What was the first thing Ber­lus­coni – one of the rich­est men in Europe with a per­sonal for­tune of around €6bn – did af­ter again tak­ing power ear­lier this year? He pushed through par­lia­ment leg­is­la­tion that gives him im­mu­nity from per­se­cu­tion and dis­solved Italy’s anti-cor­rup­tion com­mis­sion. The Scor­pi­ons will prob­a­bly soon be gone, but at least Zuma is be­ing judged by laws that he didn’t write him­self (thus far, at least).

The sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Sil­vio and Jake don’t stop there. I don’t think I’m alone in think­ing that Zuma’s singing and danc­ing rou­tine is be­com­ing a tad tired. I mean, isn’t it time he busts a new move? Sil­vio, who used to be a crooner on cruise ships in the Med, went one bet­ter than our Jake and brought out an album of his songs. The top track is called My Heart in my Throat and has this line: “I know you may make me suf­fer/But I’ll never let you go/Even if I have to fight/I will love you un­til the end.” Zuma’s nu­mer­ous praise singers – par­tic­u­larly Malema and Vavi – could learn a thing or two from sil­ver-tongued Sil­vio about ex­press­ing their love.

You may also think that Zuma’s many pro­nounce­ments on Aids and gen­der is­sues sully SA’s rep­u­ta­tion over­seas. Prob­a­bly so, but Ber­lus­coni blamed the out­cry fol­low­ing this Aids joke told on the cam­paign trail on me­dia bias: “An Aids pa­tient asks his doc­tor whether the mud bath treat­ment pre­scribed him will do any good. ‘No,’ the doc­tor replies, ‘but you’ll get ac­cus­tomed to be­ing buried’.”

Claim­ing prej­u­dice in the press is par­tic­u­larly rich com­ing from Ber­lus­coni. Apart from AC Mi­lan foot­ball club, he owns just about ev­ery TV sta­tion and news­pa­per in Italy. It makes the ANC’s med­dling in the SABC ap­pear am­a­teur­ish, which it is.

Zuma at least apol­o­gised to the coun­try about his in­fa­mous Aids shower com­ment. The only apol­ogy Ber­lus­coni has ever is­sued was to his wife, who once took out a news­pa­per ad to com­plain about her hus­band’s con­stant flirt­ing (with a for­mer top­less model, who’s now in Ber­lus­coni’s cabi­net). And we com­plain about Zuma’s at­ti­tudes to­wards women?

Here’s Ber­lus­coni, who ad­mits to many face-lifts and hair trans­plants, speak­ing at the New York Stock Ex­change: “Italy is now a great coun­try to in­vest in... to­day we have fewer Com­mu­nists and those who are still there deny hav­ing been one. An­other rea­son to in­vest in Italy is that we have beau­ti­ful sec­re­taries... su­perb girls.” Zuma can­not quite claim the same for SA, at least not with re­gard to the com­mies.

* Send your an­swers to: The Frik Els Benev­o­lent Fund, c/o SABMiller, 2 Jan Smuts Ave, Braam­fontein, and they will pro­vide me with a six-pack of Nostro Az­zuro for ev­ery cor­rect en­try.

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