/ 3 October 2020

This beef smells like manure

Spliff Hotel
Chicken or beef? On a press trip to Luanda with Zuma, our columnist got a glimpse of the future under Nxamalala


Day 189 since the national lockdown kicked in, week two of life under level one of the regulations issued in terms of the state of national disaster.

It’s 11 years, to the day, almost, since JahNoDead and I tagged along with former president Jacob Zuma on his first state visit abroad after becoming head of state. It was a mad trip to the maddest of cities — Luanda — before I pissed Nxamalala off, and, with hindsight, a pretty early indication of where we — and Zuma — were heading with him in charge of the country. 

Luanda was ugly. Expensive. $5 Cokes. $20 chickens in the park. The citizenry pressed like livestock against barricades that closed the roads for hours as the Zumas met the Dos Santoses to talk business.

We registered our protest with a spliff in the courtyard of the presidential palace while the lahnees signed bilateral trade agreements inside and shared notes on how to loot nations.

Durban was choked for the long weekend, with a mini festive season going down on the beachfront and throughout the rest of the city. The tourism and restaurant industry clearly did a bit of catching up ahead of the opening up of airports and borders. Which is great.

I got as far as Neo Cafe in North Beach for a bite with my bra, the Poojah Uncle. 

The restaurant was about one-third full, at its fullest, a shell of what it used to be. The Liverpool supporters’ bar is gone, literally, the walls knocked down to create more seating space. The empty TV stands make the walls appear naked. 


But their peri-peri chicken was still well worth the trip to North Beach.

The busy weekend was great, but the new wave of infections that is likely to come in the wake of the long weekend’s festivities won’t be. There’s a very real chance of a move backward, towards level two or three of lockdown, as we head into the festive season, if the numbers of new infections don’t stop rising daily and start to drop. If there’s not a national neck winding-in over the next few weekends.

Like many of my fellow South Africans, I spent the weekend baffled by last week’s rather vicious attack on the Zondo commission, and its chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, by the Jacob Zuma Foundation on behalf of its patron, Gedleyihlekisa himself. 

The statement was quite a thing, even for uBaba, who’s been known to cry foul when the organs of the state attempt to hold him to account after catching him with his fingers in the till.

This one was particularly thin. Anorexic, really. uBaba won’t appear because there’s a historical personal beef between him and Zondo, who’s now gunning for him, while giving Pravin Gordhan a break. 

Yada yada yada.

Baffling, indeed, given that Zuma has already appeared before Zondo to give his version of events, earlier in the commission’s proceedings, with no mention of a speech, as it is known, between the two of them.

After all, it was uBaba himself who appointed Zondo as deputy chief justice, back in the day when he was head of state and making appointments, rather than dodging them, and still wanted, we were told, his day in court. 

It was also uBaba who appointed the commission of inquiry into state capture, and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who appointed Zondo to chair the commission, so it appeared a little strange, to stay the least, that Jiggaman, as Zuma is known in certain circles, was not happy to be appearing before the commission of his own creation.

Perhaps Zuma has only now realised that he has a problem with Zondo, and didn’t notice it for half a century or so. 

Perhaps the issue that caused the beef has only become an issue now, when it’s time for him to be cross-examined and forced to finally account for his actions, and wasn’t an issue previously. 

By Thursday, after a couple of days of arrests by the Hawks over the Free State asbestos audit, and the swoop on those implicated at the commission as being involved in taking bribes from Bosasa, the real reason for Zuma’s attack on Zondo became pretty clear. 

The commission can now share its evidence with the state’s investigative agencies and the National Prosecuting Authority

I’m not doing the Jerusalema yet — arrests don’t necessarily equal convictions and those arrested this week are well lawyered up — but the Hawks have finally started to swoop.

The chickens, it appears, have come home to roost.