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No to Nkandlaspeak

Jun 01 2015 06:31
Mandi Smallhorne

Ranjeni Munusamy ‏@RanjeniM   
Can't wait for the video of cattle and chicken doing security manoeuvres

I am writing on the afternoon of the day on which the Security Upgrades at the Nkandla Private Residence of President Jacob Zuma was performed… oops, sorry, presented … in Parliament, and I really just heard the minister speaking live on radio in between popping in and out of various chores.

(Dark moments – to make an international transfer of a piddling sum of money, your passport does not suffice, you have to have an ID book; impossible since I have lost mine and don’t have time to get a temporary doc at Home Affairs. And happy moments in an unlikely place – Florida Police Station, where I identified the criminal who stole money from me. He’s in custody, go Florida detectives go!)

Nothing what it seems in this multi-purpose estate

I wish I’d been able to watch the whole speech live, as it sounded as though it had some astoundingly entertaining moments. Like the demo of the firepool’s capabilities when the heat is really on; like watching security-sensitive cattle move through the culvert-that’s-more-than-a-culvert (as is everything else in this multi-purpose estate); like listening to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko explain that the amphitheatre’s not an amphitheatre, it’s a series of retaining walls that underpin a road for security vehicles.

That’s entertainment, folks!

Do Zuma and his cabinet follow Twitter and other social media, one wonders? They’re definitely not as media-savvy as Obama, who – or perhaps whose team – would be on a Twitterfest like this one without hesitation:

If our leaders were watching, they would know that their carefully crafted messages are not getting through:

They’re really not getting it, are they? I mean, when #revolt becomes a thing…

Here’s the deal: you have lost the trust of a whole lot of the people who pay the taxes and cast the votes.

And do a search of #nkandla: those aren’t overwhelmingly melanin-challenged names, and they’re for def not conservative old oompies, they’re the young and the hip. The people you and yours need to count on for tax monies and votes into the future, dear leaders.

Chicken-or-beef security measures

South Africans, it appears, weren’t particularly persuaded by the report’s carefully crafted justifications for the massive expenditure of our tax monies on chicken-or-beef security measures. Massive is the word: as one Tweeter noted, there’s a house for sale in Clifton at R135m, a gobsmacking amount, and yet only just more than half of what was forked out for the Zuma private residence.

(And even if you go along with every word in the report, even if you take the security reasons seriously, how necessary is it all, really; I kept thinking: “Just how many assassination attempts have we ever had in this country – yes, two on Verwoerd, and…?” Oh, but of course, it’s not violent attack we need to protect the presidential family from, it’s fire: “The swimming pool… is the most important security feature”, says the report. THE most important. Really?)

South Africans don’t want tap-dancing routines around this, around the e-tolls debacle, around Marikana. (I am astounded, by the way, to learn that there are South Africans who believe that the Marikana footage was shot in Zimbabwe 32 years ago! Like Americans who believe the moon walk was shot in a studio…) We want some honesty, integrity and respect.

Mr President, may I remind you again that when you chuckle cozily and mockingly about opposition members being ‘obsessed’ with Nkandla and Marikana, you aren’t just mocking MPs, you’re mocking the people who voted for them – one in three of the 18 million-odd votes cast in 2014.

And those voters are obsessed with these things for good reason, because each of them is a symbol of eroded trust. Every single time we are offered the old tap-dance routine, which breaks down trust even further. How far can you go? You came into government with a trust fund, if I may express it that way, and you have been spending your capital wildly.

The people, it seems from social media responses, want a real accounting, and not a syncopated chorus of excuses.

*Mandi Smallhorne is a versatile journalist and editor. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on twitter.

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