Cover your eyes, here comes Zuma
IT WON’T be long now and we’ll have amendments to the security laws declaring the person of Jacob Zuma a national key point. All photographs of the president, save those officially issued, will be banned.
Furthermore, the citizenry will be compelled to cast their eyes downwards in the presence of this installation of strategic purpose and his entourage. Anyone who dares to look him in the eye shall be guilty of an offence and punished something awful.
Here at the Mahogany Ridge we won’t be surprised. We’ve always held there was no place for apartheid-era security legislation on our statute books and they should have been disposed of permanently rather than stuffed in a cupboard somewhere. Dusting them off and putting them back into use has been all too easy for the Zumacrats.
What has alarmed us, though, is that these ministers in the justice, crime prevention and security clusters appear to have, along with their detestable legislation, adopted the paranoid, persecuted mindset of the P W Botha era as well.
One cannot imagine the sort of fear that compelled the Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, to declare that the publication of photographs and footage of Zuma’s Nkandla home was a “breach of the law”, especially now that photographs of the compound are everywhere in the public domain.
Even if the R208 million spent on the upgrades came from Zuma’s own and not the taxpayer’s pocket, public interest in the place would be justified – if only to gauge, from an architectural perspective, the monstrous philistinism and subversion of the simple vernacular common with rural settlements in KwaZulu-Natal.
The jeering has, however, been deafening. And it wasn’t just us, it came from around the world. You could hear them from Beijing to Buenos Aires, laughing like madmen. Some damage control was clearly needed and a government flunkey, Phumla Williams, was duly despatched to inform us that we had “misconstrued” Cwele’s comments by using them “out of context” to provide a “disingenuous view to the public”.
So it goes with a shabby government: blame the media for telling the people what the minister said. We’re used to it.
But this is the part of Williams’s statement that the Ridge regulars found interesting: “Government has no problem with the media publishing pictures of national key points, including President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence, as it is part of their daily line of duty. However, zooming into safety and security features of national key points is a challenge as it compromises national security.”
Eyewitness News reporter Reinart Toerien was probably compromising national security when he filmed Zuma’s motorcade leaving Nelson Mandela’s Houghton home on Monday which resulted in his being assaulted by one of the president’s bodyguards. Perhaps Toerien, who was otherwise engaged in his daily line of duty, had inadvertently zoomed into the safety features of a BMW driven by members of the VIP Protection Services Unit. Maybe it was due to the goon suffering a sudden paranoid attack. Who can say? But whatever it was, Toerien got a stiff klap for his troubles.
But – speaking of paranoia – what if Zuma was attacked as he left the Mandela home? It could easily happen. The place doesn’t have R208m worth of security upgrades, like a posh spaza shop where Wife Number One may or may not be selling single cigarettes in contravention of the Tobacco Products Control Act.
So, had a gang, let’s say, of ninjas disguised as Public Protector Thuli Madonsela swooped down on the motorcade armed with lethal razor stars and nunchakus, would not Zuma’s safety and security have been compromised because one of his goons was elsewhere bashing a reporter? Just a thought.
And here’s another. Has not Robin Carlisle, the Western Cape Transport MEC, also exposed the president to some risk by banning national cabinet ministers and other nobs from using blue lights or sirens when travelling in the province unless there was “an imminent threat to safety or life”?
It’s true the president is exempt from this welcome new provincial law, as is the deputy president, visiting heads of state and bona fide emergency vehicles (hint: not a luxury German vehicle with tinted windows).
But, think about it. If you’re now one of the few guys out there in a motorcade that’s bruising its way through rush hour traffic like a fat nephew at the buffet, well… we’re going to have a good idea who you are. Remember, your thugs can’t arrest everyone for giving you the finger. Feel the animus.