If the ANC comes first, let them pay for Nkandla
THREE times now Jacob Zuma has denied the oath of his office by declaring his loyalties lay first and foremost with the ANC and not the constitution he had twice sworn to honour and uphold – and you could be forgiven for believing the grating sound you heard on Thursday was the crowing of a cock.
But no, it was just the ruling party’s president chortling and giggling his way through his last parliamentary question-and-answer session for the year.
It was a contemptible display. There is very little funny or amusing about the present state of the economy. This week’s interest rate hike is going to impact heavily on cash-strapped ordinary folk, even those who are rank and file ANC members. Little cheer for them this Christmas.
But the ANC president regards it all as a joke. “Where does my laughter hurt you?” Zuma goaded opposition MPs. It was such an outrageous moment that many were too stunned to respond with the obvious: “In the ears, for a start.”
There was the inevitable suggestion from a toadying ANC backbencher that laughter was a sign of “good health”.
On cue, Zuma ratcheted up the illmannered behaviour very much like an over-indulged child. “Thank you very much if I can laugh, because I will always laugh,” he said. “It’s not hurting, it’s healthy.”
It didn’t sound very healthy – particularly those extra-huge guffaws. Quite apart from the bovine pitch and peculiar wheeziness, there was something unseemly about an elderly person bursting into hysterics for no apparent reason – especially when he admitted that he was incapable of controlling himself. “I don’t know how to stop my laughter,” Zuma said. “Is it hurting? No?”
At the Mahogany Ridge, this admission did prompt a discussion about hilarity diapers and the like, but the more concerned among us were worried the train smash with chuckles act could be a symptom of a growing enfeeblement in the grey matter department.
There’s nothing new in this. To many observers, Zuma has been out of touch with reality for some time now. Consider how, at his question- andanswer session in August, he stubbornly insisted that all was hunky dory out there.
“The country is moving ahead,” he blithely announced. “It’s developing. It’s fine… the country is being governed very responsibly.”
But the now-unhinged laughter is worrying. And the ruling party would probably be greatly relieved if their president would stop it with all this manic giggling. But how?
Oddly enough, it was Zuma himself who may have offered a solution. By repeatedly insisting, and with such fierce resolution, that his primary concern lay in serving the ruling party, and not the state, then perhaps it was the ruling party, and not the state, who should be paying his salary and bankrolling his profligate lifestyle.
Nkandla? Let the ANC pay for it. Let them pay for his wives, his extended family, their VIP protection, even that $4 billion jet everyone’s talking about. That should wipe the smile off everyone’s faces.
What the ANC will discover soon enough is that there’s not much bang for their buck with their president.
In March this year CNN drew up a list of the earnings of the world’s wealthiest heads of state. First place went to US president Barack Obama, at $ 400 000, then Canada’s Stephen Harper (since voted out of office) with $260 000 and Germany’s Angela Merkel with $234 400. Zuma was listed in fourth place with an official annual salary of R2.75 million, or $223 500. The UK’s David Cameron, who takes home $214 800 a year, was fifth.
Thanks to the rand’s “good story”, the ANC president has now slipped down the rankings to sixth place; sandwiched between Japan’s Shinzo Abe, with $202 700, and France’s Francois Hollande, with $194 300.
But, according to BizNews.com’s Alec Hogg, Zuma is the world’s worst value-for-money head of state when you compare his salary with the size of the economy he runs. Hogg calculated that he’s paid more than $638 for every $1bn of GDP.
Obama, by comparison, gets $23.06 and China’s Xi Jinping, who is paid $22 000 a year, a mere $2.12 for each $1bn of their countries’ GDPs.
On a “like-for-like” basis, Hogg said, Zuma costs the taxpayer 27 times what Americans pay for Obama and almost 320 times more than Xi’s cost to the Chinese.
And that is no laughing matter.