/ 25 October 2022

Jacob Zuma’s like a toxic, spurned former husband from hell

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Our former presidents, like former spouses, tend to be a bitter bunch.


I didn’t have much difficulty ignoring the interventions by our former heads of state at the weekend over President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala dramas (I don’t know what else to call them).

It’s not just that I did more than my fair share of listening to both former presidents — and waiting for them to arrive at events they were hours late for — before and during their (almost) two terms of office. And, besides, there was football to watch.

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are, after all, just that — former presidents — yesterday’s men and not the actual, sitting head of state and, as such, have way less significance, politically and otherwise, in my life and in those of the rest of the population.

Former presidents, at least the South African variety, tend to be just as bitter as former wives, or husbands — perhaps even more so — particularly when it comes to their perceptions of the person who replaced them in the relationship or, in this case, the Union Buildings.

Perhaps it’s the recall thing that has our national exes all twisted about Cyril.

Mbeki and Zuma were both fired by the governing party and didn’t get to finish their second terms of office, so there’s bound to be an unresolved issue or eleventyseven on their part.

Nobody likes getting dumped — let alone divorced — being told that they are no longer loved, no longer wanted, so why would Zizi or uBaba?

Former presidents, like former life partners, have feelings too.

I’d have thought Mbeki would be more angry with Zuma than with Ramaphosa, though.

It wasn’t Ramaphosa who fired Mbeki and gave the country to the Gupta brothers. It’s only since Cyril took over that Mbeki’s been back on the memorial lecture circuit and getting invited to attend ANC functions again.

Then again, Ramaphosa and Mbeki were direct rivals for our romantic interest as a nation, back in the day when the ANC was choosing Nelson Mandela’s successor. So Mbeki’s shade for Cyril may date back to their days as competing suitors for the party’s presidency.


Mbeki might be bitter, but Zuma is like that crazy, psycho former husband who turns up, guns blazing at every family event — uninvited and unwanted — and causes a scene; reminds everybody of just how toxic they really are and stomps off in a huff to go home and stew until the next opportunity to cause a drama comes around.

Zuma hasn’t stopped stalking us — or Cyril — since Ramaphosa gave him the “don’t come Monday” in February 2018, cutting short the old man’s plan to introduce the new ANC president to his friends abroad and show him the ropes before he retired.

Despite taking half the national fiscus as alimony, Nxamalala doesn’t appear to be willing to get over the breakup any time soon — particularly now that the 15-month protection order we were granted last July has expired.

Too soon, and all that.

Perhaps Zuma will heal with time — Ramaphosa, after all, will eventually be recalled as head of state when his time as ANC president comes to an end — and get over his heartbreak and leave us alone.


Move on.

Set us free.