Time for a wake-up call
NELSON Mandela was no sooner put to rest than our body politic returned to acrimonious form with the R208 million upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s pri- vate homestead in Nkandla back in the limelight.
On Thursday, the public works and security ministers unsurprisingly absolved Zuma of any knowl- edge of the controversial upgrades.
Their explanations for the most part met with scorn on social media.
Some commentators have sought to liken the ex- pansion of Nkandla to notorious other follies such as the palace built outside Bangui by the Central African Republic’s self-styled emperor, Jean Bokas- sa, or the palace of Mobutu Sese Seko, president of what was then Zaire, in the rain forest at Gbadolite.
But the Nkandla scandal is nothing of the sort. It is far more homely, if tawdry. There’s the swimming pool our ministers would have us call a fire pool. There’s the security threat our ministers say was posed by passing trade at the homestead’s tuckshop. Then there are the the bulletproof windows that were hard to open, meaning air conditioning was required. And our ministers have pointed out the security headache that livestock pose. The cattle needed to be kept away from the alarm system, necessitating a R1 million culvert. People with evil intent could have hidden in the chicken coop so it was relocated.
Our ministers presented these absurdities to the nation and the ANC and its allies earnestly issued statements endorsing them. They need to wake up and smell not the coffee but the impoverished circumstances in which most South Africans live.
They need to remember our citizens are highly politicised and social media makes it impossible to keep a lid on scandal. Our president should offer to pay for some of the embellishments to his private home. If he does not, it is high time that someone in the upper echelons of power develops the backbone to say “the emperor has no clothes”.