Daniel Friedman
5 minute read
16 Jul 2018
3:04 pm

Ntsiki’s worst enemy

Daniel Friedman

Poet Ntsiki Mazwai regularly lashes out at all her enemies, both real and imagined, when all she need do is glance in the mirror.

Ntsiki Mazwai. Picture: Twitter

When I included a tweet by Ntsiki Mazwai about the support that Zuma enjoys leading up to his next court date, in which she claimed that the media’s attempts to turn South Africa against the Zuma family had backfired, I didn’t expect a backlash.

After all, I thought I was simply detailing what she appeared to have been saying in the tweet.

However, the poet was livid at suggestions that she is pro-Zuma, and took to Twitter to take issue with myself and The Citizen.

It is true that Mazwai has been highly critical of Zuma in the past. In a 2014 blog post, in the form of an open letter to the ANC, she said that booing at stadiums shows that “South Africa wants a new President”, and accused Zuma of corruption and not caring about the poor.

She has also been outspoken about ‘Khwezi’, or Zuma’s alleged rape of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, saying in another blog post that “what happened to Khwezi was extremely traumatic … and public” and suggesting the handling of the matter illustrated the horrors South Africa’s rape culture.

Since Zuma’s removal, though, Mazwai has sent out several tweets that could be interpreted as supportive of the former president.

A series of tweets explaining why she prefers Zuma to Ramaphosa included the line “Zuma was a danger to whites …. Ramaphosa is a danger to blacks”.

She went on to say that everything South Africa had heard about Zuma “you heard from white media”.

Mazwai seems to feel that white media has vilified Zuma. This seems strange, though, coming from someone who has had extremely harsh words about the ex-president in the past. Is the implication here that black individuals have free reign in terms of taking him to task for his actions while “white media” must be silent?

Despite her seeming to support the Zumas in their battles against the media, Mazwai and some of her supporters clearly see anyone “accusing” her of being pro-Zuma as wanting to harm her.

One Twitter user responded that the suggestion “damages” Ntsiki Mazwai’s reputation. She threatened myself and the newspaper with legal action for this apparent slander.

But it would be hard to see a way to damage Mazwai’s reputation more than she herself has done.

A by-no-means-definitive list of her biggest public spats includes her accusing Simphiwe Dana of “sleeping her way to the top”, calling Casper Nyovest an “undercover asshole”, telling Bonang Matheba she “dates trashy men” and labelling Kenny Kunene a “crybaby“.

For someone who worries about The Citizen turning black people against each other, she’s sure has turned on a lot of important black people herself, in most cases seemingly without the slightest provocation.

Her own tweets aside, it’s not like Mazwai has a great reputation, with or without The Citizen calling her “pro-Zuma”.

At the recent Comedy Central Roast of Somizi, some felt Mazwai was roasted more than the guest of honour, so much so that #RoastOfNtsiki became a popular hashtag.

Times LIVE noted that Twitter dubbed the roast “the revenge of Black Twitter on the outspoken Ntsiki Mazwai”.

This makes Mazwai’s accusations of my “turning black people against each other” all the more bizarre. If the consensus on black Twitter seemed to be that she is deserving of more shade than the man who was officially being roasted, I would suggest that Mazwai needs to take stock of the possibility that the divisive one is herself.

This is not the first time Mazwai has taken issue with The Citizen.

In June 2017, she tweeted the following:

When The Citizen reported on this in an article titled “Coloureds ‘come from white men raping black women“, Mazwai was furious, taking the publication to the press ombudsman, who dismissed her complaint.

Mazwai felt we needed her permission to publish her tweets, which is not true. She also felt we should have approached her for comment, something that seems unnecessary since her views were made clear in the tweets themselves.

Dana, during one of her twars with Mazwai, once tweeted that she “starts abusing people when she gets angry”.

Her reaction to my Zuma article seems to corroborate this, with a barrage of tweets in reaction to the two lines about her in the piece calling me “privileged white trash” and The Citizen a “rubbish paper”.

Why Mazwai, after tweeting her delight in the media having failed to turn South Africa against Jacob Zuma would then be so offended by being labelled a potential supporter is also unclear.

If you feel so strongly about being seen to support Zuma, then surely it’s a bad idea to tweet “we adore him”. She could have chosen to go with “many adore him” but by choosing the word we any reasonable person could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that she is at least sympathetic towards the ex-president.

If Mazwai sees herself as a supporter of Kuzwayo, who believes the late woman dubbed Khwezi was raped, surely this is inconsistent with her belief that Zuma has only ever been ‘a danger to whites’.

Apart from contradicting herself, Mazwai appears to have an inflated sense of her own importance.

On July 5, she tweeted: “People spoke shit about Winnie Mandela all her life but that didn’t take away her power. Let them speak Ntsiki awuyindawo!!!!”

This tweet implies that the poet places herself on the same level as the late struggle icon, although if the Zuma reaction is anything to go by, she may be furious with me for pointing this out.

When irked by our article, she said she was speaking to her ‘legal team’.

She may have a lawyer, but a ‘legal team’? Usually only big companies have those, and when individuals do they are usually high-profile businesspeople rather than poets better known for their tweets than their iambic pentameter.

I doubt this column will stop her from acting out against perceived slights from her enemies, though.

This is just a suggestion: perhaps she should focus more on her worst enemy – herself.

– @shortclick

Citizen Digital News Editor Daniel Friedman. Picture: Twitter.