True story: Zuma un­veils phal­lic erec­tion in his own hon­our

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis - Paddy Harper

Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. Dur­ban’s hu­mid and blus­tery, the per­fect in­cu­ba­tor for the flu virus that’s laid me low since Mon­day.

The lap­top screen’s star­ing at me, taunt­ingly. The virus and a cock­tail of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs have frozen my brain. My fin­gers are lead on the key­board. There’s words ap­pear­ing, but it’s as if some­body else is writ­ing them. They’re card­board. They don’t have tex­ture. They’re dry. There’s no pace or rhythm. They lack taste.

There’s a loud bang from the flat next door. Then a sharp crack. I stum­ble to the door.

My neigh­bour’s son’s out­side. He’s white as a sheet. Three cats had booted in his bedroom bur­glar bars. He opened up on them with an air ri­fle. They kicked down.

The laaitie’s shak­ing like a KPMG ex­ec­u­tive on the morn­ing of a pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee hear­ing. I know how he feels.

My flat got hit last Tues­day, about an hour af­ter I left for New­cas­tle and an in­ter­view with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that never ma­te­ri­alised. My 11-year-old dis­turbed them when he got in from school. That was rough. And the loss of my suede Puma Cly­des. The lap­top and phone were in­sured.

My last flat also got bur­gled, shortly af­ter the Nkand­la­gate story broke. My mid­dle son, Small James, was asleep in­side. The bur­glars took a cell­phone that was next to his head, along with ev­ery piece of elec­tronic equip­ment that could record or store any­thing. Left the big-screen TV and the PlayS­ta­tion be­hind and van­ished out the lounge win­dow like ghosts.

The news is on TV when I get back in. There’s this mas­sive metal phal­lus on the screen. It’s got this huge, flanged head. On the head there’s an im­age of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. There’s a leer on Nxa­m­alala’s face. It’s not a pretty sight.

Brett Mur­ray must be at it again. The Spear 2.0. A 2017 de­pic­tion of the pres­i­den­tial pe­nis. It’s a crass, ugly car­i­ca­ture of the head of the head of state and his head. It must be in­spired by Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers pres­i­dent Julius Malema’s less-than-af­fec­tion­ate use of the term “Makhan­dakhanda”, or “per­son with many heads”. The ANC Youth League is go­ing to go mad, if any­one can find Oros to tell him about it.

The cam­era pans. There’s this con­crete bench like you get at those pic­nic spots at the side of the free­way. On the left of it there’s a bust of Supra Mahumapelo, the premier of North West Prov­ince. Across from him there’s a smaller bust of former ANC pres­i­dent Oliver Tambo. Be­tween them, on the floor, is another head. It looks like former Nige­rian pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo. Maybe it fell off the bench. This shit is get­ting weirder by the sec­ond.

The cam­era homes in on the head on the floor. It’s not Obasanjo. It’s ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Mur­ray must have lost his mind. He’s a dead man. The ANC Women’s League is go­ing to cut his balls off with a blunt but­ter knife.

I turn up the vol­ume. Zuma comes on the screen. He’s look­ing pretty happy for a man whose head is on a four-storey pe­nis. And whose exmis­sus’s head is on the floor. That’s some kind of stoic, man.

Zuma starts rap­ping. This isn’t the work of Mur­ray or some artist protest­ing state cap­ture by the Gup­tas un­der Zuma. It’s the open­ing of a R6-mil­lion mon­u­ment to him, at the site of his cap­ture along with 51 of his com­rades in 1963 by the se­cu­rity cops in the Groot Marico.

That’s in­ter­est­ing. I al­ways thought Nxa­m­alala got cap­tured in Sax­on­wold. And Dubai. One lives and learns.

Zuma’s prais­ing the un­sung heroes and hero­ines of the strug­gle who gave up ev­ery­thing for the free­dom we have to­day. They need to be recog­nised for what they did, Zuma says.

The cam­era re­turns to the her­itage site. There are a few plaques. There are no busts of the 51 other com­rades who got jammed up with JZ. No smaller nyana stat­ues. No mu­rals of their faces. No group pho­to­graph. I can’t even see any­thing with their names on it. Maybe the cam­era missed them.

I’m baf­fled, as the late Sipho Khu­malo would have said. And a lit­tle un­set­tled. I’ve never heard of a South African pres­i­dent — or an ANC pres­i­dent — un­veil­ing a statue of him­self. Isn’t that kind of thing nor­mally left to oth­ers to do in recog­ni­tion of the le­gacy you have left?

Per­haps Nxa­m­alala doesn’t trust the ANC to pre­serve his le­gacy. Or maybe he doesn’t in­tend to leave one.

Or per­haps he’s im­mor­tal and doesn’t in­tend dy­ing.

I al­ways thought Nxa­m­alala got cap­tured in Sax­on­wold. And Dubai. One lives and learns

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