Hubris — Jacob Zuma, who succeeded Thabo Mbeki as president of South Africa, suddenly woke up to declare himself lord and master, over the state he once ruled; lord of the manor, over a land he was once jailed, to set free from White racist rule.
At his hubristic peak, the man accused of ringing sleaze, during his presidential years, would rather accuse his accusers as new Black successors to old White racists, for daring to allege that he, the great Zuma of great Kwazulu-Natal, was a thief.
He spat at the courts for probing such heresy; and dared the Constitutional Court to jail him, instead of making him, the great Zuma from Kwazulu-Natal, to answer to such heresy! For that, he declared the courts the palladium of neo-apartheid, swearing he would rather go to jail than get demeaned to defend himself.
He got his wish — doesn’t that popular saying warn to beware of what you wish for, as it might just come true? When the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s version of Nigeria’s Supreme Court, the apex court, threw him in for 15 months, for contempt of court, Zuma’s first stunt was defiance — he wouldn’t hand himself in; and dared the state to arrest him, from his great Kwazulu-Natal!
With the deadline running out, and confrontation with the state looming, the stunt changed from defiance to milking rogue sympathy: Zuma declared himself too old to go to jail in a period of galloping COVID-19, which latest Delta strain was reaping fresh lives in his country. Then, of course, the bogey of new apartheid as final, desperate blackmail.
But as Zuma turned himself in, on the very last night of grace, hubris morphed into mass recklessness. His army of supporters resorted to industrial-scale looting, supposedly to punish a post-apartheid land, for jailing an anti-apartheid hero, as a common criminal!
That misplaced rage has further lowered post-Mandela South Africa, in the estimation of right-thinking people globally. But that epochal disgrace results from the comic hubris of Zuma, who thought playing childish pranks, throwing his weight as former president, his past activity as anti-apartheid hero who served jail terms with the great
Nelson Mandela, and wilfully clothing legitimate judicial probe as Black-on-Black racism, would shield him from responsibility. Well, they haven’t — and that’s just as well!
A simplistic reading of it all is that it’s all predictably African, since that’s how African (wo)men of power often behave. That’s not untrue. Still, Hitler rose, pushing anti-semitism to ruin Word War 2 Germany, until it all ended in a fiasco.
In the 244th year of American independence, a certain Donald Trump came to shake, to its roots, America’s democracy; by losing an election and threatening not to leave office — a clear heresy, in a land that crows as the bastion of global democracy. America still battles with that fiasco, and no one can vouchsafe its final result.
The fact is at junctures of global history, demagogues come and try to chisel their countries in their ugly images. Zuma is South Africa’s, as Trump is United States’ and Adolf Hitler, Germany’s. The good thing though, is that South Africa is curtailing the Zuma threat, and the state and people would be better for it.
But with Zuma behind bars — the heavens haven’t fallen though industrial-scale looting had birthed — everyone caught instigating those riots and looting should be fished out, tried and, if found guilty, made to join their “patron saint” in jail. Fingers are already pointing to Zuma’s offspring.
Perhaps to save South Africa from ruin, that country’s jail would boast of Rogue the Father, Rogue the Son or Daughter, Rogue the Evil Spirit! Maybe that tough path leads to South Africa’s salvation, as tough beacon to the rest of the African continent!