It will be music to the ears when Zuma goes, but not when Clegg bows out
ON Tuesday night, it felt like the entire country was watching the vote of no confidence playing out in Parliament. It might have been auspicious for numerologists, the eighth one against Jacob Zuma in the eighth year of his tenure in the eighth month of this year.
Perhaps he is the cat with nine lives.
The diviners, believers and plotters were out in force almost immediately after- wards trying to find out just who the ANC turncoats were, who, in the greatest of ironies, voted according to their conscience as the Speaker – who is also the party chairperson – had enjoined them when she granted the House a secret ballot on the debate.
Zuma, by his own admission, will be out come December at the party’s elective conference, but he’s got a mighty legal battle ahead of him beforehand; the opposition DA’s trying to dissolve Parlia- ment and force a general election, the Constitutional Court has to decide whether there are grounds to impeach him, and then there’s still the issue of the 783 corruption charges, which the DA has asked to be reinstated forthwith.
On Wednesday, he went to Kimberley to commemorate Women’s Day where he appeared typically unfazed by the rigours of the night before, his only remark of note being that men who attack women should be prosecuted.
Fast forward to Wednesday night and Johnny Clegg was bidding farewell to the faithful at Montecasino’s Teatro.
Clegg’s a white man, whose friends in a very foreign world of Joburg’s Yeoville were domestic servants. They were mostly illiterate. They taught him to speak isiZulu like them, with all the bawdiness of young men. They taught him to play maskandi guitar and the street accordion.
Clegg is as proudly culturally Zulu as Zuma.
In fact, there are probably more photos of Clegg in loin skins and rattles holding a shield in one hand and a kierie and an assegai in the other than there are of the president in the same regalia.
He’s proud of his family, as Zuma is of his.
On Wednesday night, Clegg came on for an encore to play Asimbonanga, perhaps the best known and most storied of his three decades of work. It’s another song that was banned, but became an anthem for the Struggle, a litany of those like Nelson Mandela – and Zuma – imprisoned on Robben Island, but also all those who were killed in detention by the apartheid regime.
Above the stage, video footage cut from Robben Island and pictures of Mandela and others as prisoners to Clegg performing Asimbonanga in France only to be joined on stage by Madiba. Mandela was lively and jovial as we all remember him, hugging Clegg.
The last two memories I have of Zuma with Mandela are the 2010 World Cup and his sick bed in Houghton. In both, Mandela is a husk of the giant he was – polar opposites of the man in the video.
Today, the government shouts white monopoly capital and white privilege and the new intelligentsia sneer at what they deride as “Rainbowism”, where cultural diversity and appropriation are to be frowned upon and discouraged.
On the back of my concert T-shirt is a list of the gigs Clegg still has to play as he bids his fans goodbye. There’s the UK, Europe, North America, Australia. There’s even a stop in Dubai. If the cynics are to be believed, Dubai’s high on the president’s list too.
The show finally ends with the words, “Where did the time go? Where did my life go?” It’s a question we could all be asking ourselves.
As the crowd sings “Bye, Bye, December African Rain”, it sounds eerily like an omen.