Khaya Dlanga: SA’s grim fairytale

Once upon a time, in a land very, very near (so near in fact that a lot of us live in it), there lived a giant of South African politics, Nelson Mandela.

He was much loved by people, not just in his own land, but by many from kingdoms all over the far corners of the world. But he had been captured and kept in a castle in the middle of the sea alongside many other giants like Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and many others. 

But one day, the powers of the evil government were broken and he and others walked out of the prison. Many people watched from the See Far Away device, otherwise known as a television. 

Then one day, the people decided to make him the ruler of the land and he agreed. Things went smoothly for a while. They wrote a great big document known as a Constitution and the people were very pleased. 

But one day, he decided that he was too old and wanted to give power to younger and more capable men. So he retired, and a young new ruler by the name of Thabo Mbeki  took his place, and he decided that his right-hand man would be Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. They lived together in harmony until it was discovered that Zuma might have been under the spell of a very powerful sorcerer, Schabir Shaik, the entire time. (When Shaik's sorcery was discovered, he was flung in to a dungeon). And so Mbeki  dismissed Zuma from his council of the wise, and threw him into the wilderness. 

Zuma was not mad. He was furious. And so he started singing and dancing, dancing and singing across the land. This enchanted the people and they would fall at his feet. None was more enchanted than a young, powerful new knight who went by the name of Julius Sello Malema.  

Zuma and Malema, a match made in Polokwane. Actually, they were a match made in the corruption trial of Zuma. Malema criss-crossed the length and breath of the land to convince people (also known as the "masses") that there was mysterious conspiracy against Zuma by the new ruler. Malema said many things. He even said that he and his people would kill for Zuma. This shocked many people in the land. When Zuma heard this, it is said, he giggled and pushed up his glasses with his middle finger. He giggled and giggled some more and pushed his glasses, and in celebration of Malema's words, married another wife. Good times. 

Every five years, the ruling guild, the ANC, would convene a great big council to keep the same leader or find a new one. But this time, there was a great big fight between Mbeki and Zuma. After a great duel that lasted many, many months, Zuma emerged from the arena the victor, dancing and singing, singing and dancing. 

There was a song he sang to enchant the people, "Wenu' yang bambezela! Hawu lethu' mshini wami, mshini wami! Mshini wami, mshini wami!" The song had the whole land in a trance, in fact, young and old, melanin-advantaged and disadvantaged, could sing the song. Sir Julius would often be seen by his side smiling and singing, singing and smiling. 

Not long after, Mbeki was banished from the palace. He packed a few of his belongings and was sent into the wilderness. 

But one day Sir Julius came before the people and said that he had been bewitched by none other than the man he smiled and sang with, Zuma himself! The people were shocked! He even said things such as, "Mbeki is the best leader the ANC has produced. There are those who hated him with a passion … those who hate Mbeki are jealous of his achievements. He was the most educated and clever." 

When the new ruler from Nkandla heard this, he was furious! For he realised that his spell had been broken. And so he convened a council which would have Malema dismissed from the ANC. And so it was that the council agreed that he must be cast into the wilderness. As Malema has discovered, it is cold there. 

And now that the spell had been broken, he would speak the truth. He believed that a great big witch doctor from Nkandla had blinded him to the truth, and now he would speak the truth. He said things like, "Zuma is destroying the country!" and "Zuma is the worst leader the ANC has ever had!" He even wanted the corruption trial to be resumed. 

The story did not have as happy an ending as we thought. The story has not ended, it is continuing. We don't know what it has in store for us. There will be a meeting of the council at the end of the year. Will the council select a new leader or stay with Zuma? Is Malema right? Was he bewitched? 

And will we all live in uncertainty, ever after?

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