But Zuma is ac­count­able to SA for his ac­tions, cul­ture or not

Finweek English Edition - - Column -

THAT WEIRD di­rec­tor-gen­eral at the Depart­ment of Labour – Jimmy Manyi – re­cently had a cu­ri­ous ex­change with the prob­ing Chris Bar­ron in the Sun­day Times. Manyi – who dou­bles up, don’t ask me how, as pres­i­dent of the Black Man­age­ment Fo­rum – told Bar­ron mat­ters con­cern­ing the sex­ual be­hav­iour of the Pres­i­dent of the coun­try are not for pub­lic dis­cus­sion. Here’s an ex­tract from their ex­change:

Bar­ron: “Do you think the Pres­i­dent is show­ing re­spect and dig­nity for his of­fice?”

Manyi: “Of course he is. There’s no doubt about that.”

Bar­ron: “His adul­tery; the chil­dren he’s fa­thered out of wed­lock.”

Manyi: “You see, it’s those kinds of things that I, as an African, can’t dis­cuss. The Pres­i­dent is my elder and mat­ters like that in my cul­ture I’m not able to dis­cuss.”

Give us a break, Manyi. Surely cul­tures evolve rather than be­ing mired in an­cient mores un­suited to mod­ern stan­dards? You can un­der­stand a Zulu war­rior not de­sirous of ques­tion­ing the sex­ual habits of Shaka or Din­gaan or Cetshwayo know­ing full well that the con­se­quences could well in­clude a painful death, aside from the ruin of your sur­viv­ing fam­ily.

That’s not to pass ar­bi­trary judg­ment on such prac­tices. It’s il­log­i­cal to crit­i­cise an­cient cus­toms against mod­ern con­di­tions. Through­out his­tory man’s in­hu­man­ity to his fel­low man has been graph­i­cally recorded.

Do we wish to re­turn to the days of the In­qui­si­tion or the pogroms when de­cent folks were tor­tured and killed for their be­liefs, with such atroc­i­ties based on long-stand­ing cul­tural norms?

An­other ex­am­ple is the bat­tle against fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion, an age-old cul­tural prac­tice in var­i­ous parts of Africa and the Mid­dle East. Just be­cause some­thing has deep cul­tural roots doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally ren­der it de­sir­able. Con­sider those wretched young boys who die in agony fol­low­ing botched tra­di­tional cir­cum­ci­sions. You ap­pre­ci­ate there are deep cul­tural roots in­volved here but is it not ra­tio­nal then, as we de­velop, we re­sort to mod­ern, an­ti­sep­tic and safe means of pur­su­ing an­cient and of­ten quite con­struc­tive cul­tural norms?

Manyi wishes for South Africa’s me­dia to adopt and re­spect his cul­tural be­liefs by treat­ing the Pres­i­dent of our democ­racy with kid gloves. He disin­gen­u­ously seeks to con­fuse the per­son of Ja­cob Zuma Pres­i­dent with the of­fice of the pres­i­dency.

But it was not the of­fice of the pres­i­dency that was taken to court on a rape charge af­ter un­pro­tected sex with a fe­male fam­ily friend young enough to be his daugh­ter. And it was not the of­fice of the pres­i­dency which, again, in­dulged in un­pro­tected sex with the daugh­ter of an­other fam­ily friend, re­sult­ing in the birth of an il­le­git­i­mate child.

It was, fur­ther, not the of­fice of the pres­i­dency that was up on cor­rup­tion charges and which fought those by en­gag­ing in long, drawn-out court bat­tles aimed solely at sup­press­ing ev­i­dence. It’s ironic the same Pres­i­dent now crit­i­cises the me­dia for seek­ing re­lief, via the same courts, from State stric­tures.

No, it was the man him­self who did all that, and in an open, mod­ern and free democ­racy he’s ac­count­able to the peo­ple for his ac­tions and his be­hav­iour should be an ex­am­ple to all.

Re­turn­ing to Manyi’s Black Man­age­ment Fo­rum, it seems to me we dis­ap­pear­ing whites should be en­ti­tled to some­thing sim­i­lar. Thus I’m launch­ing the White Man­age­ment Fo­rum (WMF). En­try is free but re­stricted to those who qual­ify in terms of POM – which stands for Pre­vi­ously Op­pressed Mi­nori­ties.

It’s im­por­tant that the WMF be seen to be in­de­pen­dent, so it can’t be headed by a pub­lic ser­vant. Any­way, they should be too busy serv­ing the tax­pay­ers to take on added and oner­ous re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

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