Zuma hosts al-Bashir at Nkandla

President Jacob Zuma at the African Union summit in Johannesburg. (Delwyn Verasamy, MG)

President Jacob Zuma at the African Union summit in Johannesburg. (Delwyn Verasamy, MG)

President Jacob Zuma has decided to take a sudden departure from his favourite pastime – participating in scandal and the drama of corruption worthy of a Shonda Rhimes TV show – to sit back and grow his nails.

His responsibilities as president require that his nails be kept trimmed. Pushing the nation’s buttons and grabbing at straws prove more effective when unsightly claws stay out of the way. He does, however, keep them long enough to participate in occasional back-scratching.
However, the chance to help out Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to benefit Zuma himself, (a practice known as “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”), has called for special effort in the nail-growing department.

Zuma’s manicurist says she initially tried using fake nails for Zuma, but al-Bashir found little pleasure from the acrylics. “The Sudanese president was disappointed with the inauthentic feel of the fake nails. He also mentioned that, because he is particularly thick-skinned, he experienced very little sensation. Al-Bashir asked that Zuma really get in there if he wanted to benefit from having his own back scratched”, the manicurist, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained.

New heights of weird
Now we’re all used to our president’s rather strange and often inexplicable behaviour, but this certainly reaches new heights of weird. This new act of insanity does differ from the others, slightly, in that it does actually have an explanation. Al-Bashir, who attended the African Union summit this past weekend, was meant to be arrested and surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by South Africa, which is a member of the ICC, pretty much as soon as he landed in the country. Al-Bashir was indicted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against some of the tribes of Sudan’s western Darfur region. He faced two warrants of arrest, one in 2009 and the second in 2010. But thanks to the leadership of our own country, he is still as free as a vulture.

There has been an admirable exercise in reciprocal altruism by both parties … al-Bashir, clearly a specialist in the field of acting insubordinately as the leader of an African country, extended an offer to Zuma in the form of providing some free tutoring on how to excel at being ungovernable. This make sense. Compared to al-Bashir’s success in this area, Zuma’s shenanigans look rather standard grade. Our president may fail at Good Governance 101, but he takes his untenable module very seriously. Unable to accept the phenomenally philanthropic offer by al-Bashir without reciprocation, Zuma offered his counterpart free accommodation at his Nkandla home.

Lessons in the chicken coop
So proud of the co-operation and kindness exercised by both presidents, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe personally drove al-Bashir to the compound. The media falsely reported that al-Bashir had, perhaps, left the country.

Meanwhile, insiders say that Nkandla’s chicken coop has been converted into an outdoor classroom so both student and teacher can enjoy the winter sun.

Mugabe has remained at the compound as well and can be found in the kitchen making peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch.

When the back scratching becomes too overwhelming, Zuma and Bashir cool off in the fire pool. The constant scratching, combined with the moisture of the pool, takes its toll on Zuma’s nails, but the manicurist says a special ointment made from a special breed of scapegoat and paid for by taxpayers’ money is repairing the damage.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee became Africa’s first social media editor in a newsroom at the Mail & Guardian, where she went on to work as deputy digital editor and a disruptor of the peace through a weekly column. A stint as the program manager for Impact Africa – a grant-disbursing fund for African digital journalists – followed. She now pursues her own writing full time by enraging readers of EWN and Women 24 with weekly and bi-monthly columns respectively. She also contributes to the Sunday Times and a range of other publications. Mohamed Dawjee's inaugural book of essays: Sorry, not sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa, is due for release by Penguin Random House in April 2018.Follow her on Twitter: @sage_of_absurd Read more from Haji Mohamed Dawjee

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