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Mzwanele Manyi: The Zindzi Mandela of our time

Monday.

Like many of my fellow South Africans, I’m a little baffled by the statement issued on behalf of former president Jacob Zuma by the spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi.

Flabbergasted, to borrow a term from Toya Delazy’s grandad.

I’m not fazed by the content of Nxamalala’s latest missive — it’s a bog standard rant about the courts being the running dogs of the enemies of our revolution.

Yada.

Yada.

Yada.

I’m also not surprised by the timing of the statement.

Zuma’s special plea to have Billy Downer removed as prosecutor in his corruption case is about to be argued in the high court in Pietermaritzburg this week, so a cranking up of the propaganda machine was always going to happen.

The comrades had also forgotten about uBaba — there’s elections and securing their own political futures to deal with — and needed to be reminded.

It’s the fact that Comical Manyi is so happily firing off Nxamalala’s statement in what appears to be a violation of the department of correctional services’s parole regulations that has left me shocked and surprised.

The former head of state is a sentenced prisoner who has been released on medical parole because he is, we are told — at least by correctional services head Arthur Fraser — too ill to serve the rest of his 15-month sentence for contempt or stand trial in his corruption matter.

Perhaps Zuma’s parole conditions carry a caveat that he is allowed to issue media statements smashing the judiciary while under correctional supervision — through Jimmy Jurisprudence — and that his latest attack on the judicial system is legal.

Perhaps they don’t, and Zuma — and Manyi — emboldened by the knowledge that Fraser is not going to revoke anybody’s medical parole between now and the time he retires, simply don’t give a toss.

Perhaps, in their own heads at least, Zuma is another Nelson Mandela, reaching out to the masses from his prison cell, where he is imprisoned by an illegitimate regime — through an intermediary.

Which would, from their perspective at least, make Manyi the Zindzi Mandela of our time.

Voter registration weekend is over. But the less technologically challenged among us had until midnight on Monday 20 September to sign up on the electoral commission’s online portal.

All systems appear to be go for 1 November and the shortest election campaign in South African history.

The politicians must be pleased.

The Covid-19 regulations mean that they won’t have to actually kiss any babies this time around; hug any sweaty, unemployed types, while trying to get them to trade their vote for a T-shirt and a packet of empty promises.

The truncated election campaign means that they will have to spend far less time than they usually do facing the people who made the mistake of voting for them; fewer days on the rack explaining where they’ve been hiding for the past five years.

Where their money went.

I was already registered from the last election, so there was no need to visit any of the local voting stations to get my name onto the voters’ roll for the ward at the weekend.

I didn’t vote in 2019.

I decided to register, like every year since 1994, but, for the first time, not actually cast my vote.

My thinking was that by registering to vote and not turning up on 8 May, I would have been giving the politicians a taste of their own medicine; a smallanyana sample of what it’s like to be lied to and let down.

Registering to cast my vote and then ghosting the parties and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) at the last moment would be like promising to deliver services and then chowing the money that pays for those services instead.

Promise the world, then disappear for another five years.

I had a good laugh while dodging the stone throwers at Stick Farm near Umbumbulu on the South Coast last election day — they wanted their water supply to be restored before they would allow the polling station to open — imagining the then Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, standing outside the voting station at the Berea Bowling Club all day in the sun from 7am; craning their necks to spot my shining dome in the queue of punters lined up outside.

Waiting — in vain — to see me turn up to make my mark next to one of their grinning heads, as promised.

Perhaps I’ll do the same on 1 November.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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