Thank you Zuma, for putting us out of our misery

We can finally stop living in dread all the time. It's over, but the real war is hopefully just beginning.

What a night, right?

I’m sure some of us woke up this morning to the news that South Africa has once again been turned upside down by President Jacob Zuma. Others, like me, went to bed after 2am, still reeling at the fact that our new finance minister is not Brian Molefe but that other ladies’ man, Malusi Gigaba.

(Don’t mention his tone deaf running of Home Affairs, everyone, or the disaster he found public enterprises in, and left in even more trouble, because the investors might be listening, hey… oh, someone told them already?)

I’m going to miss our stoic former pharmacist, Pravin Gordhan. That man endured more of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than anyone ever deserved. He tried to give us our medicine, but we didn’t take it. He bravely took arms against a sea of troubles … and they ended him.

This was a very canny move from Zuma. He can easily say this was just another regular Cabinet reshuffle, replacing one long-serving minister with another.

“What’s the big deal?” he may ask. But we know better, surely.

Hopefully it was not all in vain. Hopefully, someday, we’ll be able to look back at this moment in history and agree that it was a turning point for South Africa’s deeply wounded and limping democratic project, and was the catalyst for making us all realise just how big a toxic barb Zuma is, and how badly he needs to be plucked from our withering foot.

(I can still hear that ominous “he he he” chuckling in answer to a journalist’s question yesterday about when the Cabinet reshuffle would happen. We may still be hearing that Jabba the Hutt-like laughing in our nightmares for years to come. “I have a nice surprise for you, he he he.”)

The rand is going to fall, and yes, we are probably going to be downgraded to junk. It may take years to repair the damage of Zuma having his perverted way with us all once again, but perhaps all of this will turn out to be as bad as it can get. We can get some therapy, patch ourselves back up and vow to never let this kind of thing befall us again. We can build up antibodies to notice and destroy a democratic infection like the Zupta virus whenever one threatens to invade our immune system again.


Of course, everything can also always get worse … but let it be true that there is still a handful of principled men and women in the ANC in parliament. Let it be true that when the next vote of no confidence is brought against the president, that they will be as angry as the rest of us and help us to finally get rid of the Guptas’ attack hound once and for all.

Let’s not despair. Let’s just take a deep breath and carry on. As Winston Churchill repeatedly said, day after day, “Never, never, never give up.” Zuma hasn’t given up, obviously, but we can always outlast him. We just need to survive for one day longer than him, and perhaps that day is about to dawn on what looks like a very dark horizon.

All the speculation and concern about how much pain Zuma was going to inflict on us is over. He has done his worst. So when the dust settles and we count our wounds, hopefully he hasn’t struck a mortal blow. Hopefully there’ll be enough life left in us to finally shake off the spell Zuma has cast, and banish him at last back to tropical Mordor in KwaZulu-Natal.

We can finally stop living in dread all the time. It’s over, but the real war is hopefully just beginning.

There’s been a lot of big talk from some in the ANC, the SACP and even Cosatu about “principles”.

Now we’ll see if any of that is true. So thanks for that, Mr Zuma. You tried to strike the killer blow, and maybe it will ultimately kill us, but maybe it’s going to kill you. We shall see.

We’ll see if there’s anything about South Africa worth saving, because this is, without doubt, our biggest test as a nation thus far. You were sent to test us, and hopefully we will pass this test, and you, too, will pass from our door like a dark angel at the height of the tenth and final plague of Egypt.

Charles Cilliers, digital editor

Charles Cilliers, digital editor

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits