Stop worrying about a Zuma presidency
You could be living under Berlusconi
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.