ZUMA’S LAUGH­TER IS NOT THE BEST MEDICINE

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is now more pow­er­ful than the ANC and is above the law

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - Adri­aan Bas­son

THE vi­o­lence was vul­gar, but it was his glee­ful chuckle I will never for­get. Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma no longer rules South Africa with author­ity. He is laugh­ing at us.

Mo­ments af­ter the most bru­tal vi­o­lence yet wit­nessed in a South African Par­lia­ment played out be­fore his eyes, Zuma stood up — the op­po­si­tion benches in front of him empty — and chuck­led.

One of those trade­mark Ged­ley­ih­lek­isa chuck­les.

“The one who laughs at you while phys­i­cally hurt­ing you” is the mean­ing of Zuma’s sec­ond name.

At some point in his life, Zuma de­cided lit­er­ally to em­body that.

Last Thurs­day evening, he laughed at our democ­racy.

He laughed at the EFF mem­bers of Par­lia­ment who had just been beaten up by armed po­lice of­fi­cers “cam­ou­flaged” in white shirts and black pants.

And he laughed at the DA’s en­tire cau­cus that staged an un­prece­dented walk- out in protest of the pres­ence of hard- hit­ting po­lice of­fi­cers in the holy grail of democ­racy.

What type of per­son gives such a plea­sur­able, nat­u­ral laugh af­ter Par­lia­ment has just been bro­ken — lit­er­ally, be­cause of you?

Some­body who knows he is above the law?

Some­one who be­lieves in his bones that he is un­touch­able?

It takes a spe­cial kind of ar­ro­gance and numb­ness to do what Zuma did last Thurs­day night.

Here’s the bad news: Zuma is now more pow­er­ful than the ANC and Ged­ley­ih­lek­isa rubs off.

On Thurs­day night, I was seated in front of the for­mer Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of SA ( Numsa) pres­i­dent and Zuma man, Cedric Gina.

When the beat­ing started, I took out my cell­phone to shoot some video from my seat in the public gallery.

Gina was livid and al­most smacked me.

“Put away your phone! This is Par­lia­ment!

“We don’t take pic­tures here!” he shouted at me while se­cu­rity heav­ies moved in to clamp down on any­one with a record­ing cell­phone.

For the re­main­der of the evening I had a guard al­most per­ma­nently by my side, in­struct­ing me to switch off my cell­phone ( which was any­way use­less while the sig­nal was jammed). I re­fused. I started tak­ing down notes in my di­ary. Gina peeked over my shoul­der.

“Why are you writ­ing that?” ( re­fer­ring to a note that I was in­structed by a guard to switch off my phone) he asked me threat­en­ingly.

I told him that I would write what I like and that it’s got noth­ing to do with him.

On my other side sat two young ANC women in fancy cloth­ing.

DA par­lia­men­tary leader Mmusi Maimane ob­jected to the pres­ence of po­lice of­fi­cers in Par­lia­ment and asked: “What next? “The de­fence force in Par­lia­ment?” The two women re­spond loudly: “Yes! Bring in the sol­diers!”

Par­lia­men­tary vet­er­ans tell me it’s the first time in ( post- 1994) his­tory that the se­cu­rity was this strict at the open­ing of Par­lia­ment.

Never be­fore in my ca­reer have I felt as threat­ened to do my job as I did last Thurs­day night.

The cell­phone sig­nal was scram­bled, I was pro­hib­ited from shoot­ing pho­tos or video with my cell­phone, I was threat­ened about notes in my di­ary and the Zuma sup­port­ers around me ap­proved of, even sup­ported, the vi­o­lence against the EFF.

Zuma has seized the ANC and abuses the gov­ern­ment to do his dirty work. That’s why it’s not ridicu­lous to ask whether we are be­com­ing a po­lice state. But Zuma doesn’t care. It’s all one big joke to him.

— News24. • Adri­aan Bas­son is the edi­tor of our sis­ter pa­per Beeld and is an award- win­ning jour­nal­ist.

‘ What type of per­son gives such a plea­sur­able, nat­u­ral laugh af­ter Par­lia­ment has just been bro­ken — lit­er­ally, be­cause of you?’

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