Jacob Zuma is missing the point. The fact that South Africans cope through humour doesn’t make any of this funny. It is not a shared joke that South Africans are enjoying with their leader. He needs to stop laughing because if we laugh, it is out of nervousness. He needs to understand that this is not a yarn and that we didn’t ever actually find it funny. He needs to understand that he is making the country look strangely like pre revolution France and that no one, no one at all believes the farce that the king’s jester is presenting as fact.

In the iconic parody History of World Part 1 comedian Mel Brooks takes us on a journey through history. A highlight of the show is pre French Revolution France when King Louis dances around the gardens of Versailles fiddling with generously “bosomed” women. After each affront (if you will excuse the expression), he turns to the camera and says, “It’s good to be the king!”

No one truly believed that Shabir Sheik was sick and worthy of medical parole (given the fact that he is alive and well and living the good life), no one really believed that cold showers prevented AIDS, and it is doubtful anyone at all, besides this king’s inner circle, perhaps, believes that the President is still applying his mind to Marikane. It is unlikely that anyone one believes that etolls makes sense in its current application (given the dire state of the economy) and that Eskom and the Post Office and the lack of decent public health care and appalling education system are still apartheid system’s fault (even if they were twenty years ago). And no one, no one at all believes that a swimming pool is a fire pool.

The fact that the President is prepared to discredit his government by presenting such thinly veiled tripe as fact is the scariest aspect of all. The country is crime infested. We are known throughout the world for our horrible criminal violence. And yet he is prepared to parade the Minister of Police in front of the world in what has to be the most bizarre lip-syncing act of all time. The Nkandla spend, says the “puppet Minister”, was a legitimate security cost. How exactly that award any comfort and  gives credit to a department that is failing and is floundering as it is, is anyone’s guess.

Here are some basic facts that might provide a context. The country spent a mere USD22,100 on FW De Klerk’s private home, USD2.9M on Nelson Mandela’s 2 homes, and USD1.1M on Thabo Mbeki’s. Contrast that to the USD23M on the rural Nkandla and one starts to get a sense of the absurdity. Add to this the money that the country has lost, had stolen, wasted and squandered and the picture is bleak and sad and is no laughing matter.

If history teaches us anything it is that a leadership who ignores the will of the people will ultimately see their own demise. And it might not take a scandal as large as an Nkandla to do so. Resentment is building and I am genuinely afraid as to what will happen if we are told to “eat cake”.

As our King strolls through the gardens of Nkandla, stopping only to shower from time to time, and to have a giggle at his subjects who really ought not to be so serious, and who ought to keep their heads about them, one wonders if he appreciates the moment. And one wonders if he stops to think that indeed, it is good to be the king.

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