Columns 27.7.2016 07:01 am

Snakes & leaders gamble

Martin Williams

Martin Williams

In this board game analogy, Zuma is the symbolic snake who can take the party down.

When a political party uses its leader’s face on posters, and arranges for him to speak at events nationwide, it is reasonable to assume the party supports him.

So Gauteng Premier David Makhura is pushing his luck when he urges voters not to punish the ANC at the polls if they disapprove of President Jacob Zuma. According to the Sunday Times, Makhura said: “If you have an issue with the president of the ANC … my appeal to you is: just appreciate the level of complexity in the ANC. The ANC has had its ups and downs, but it has always been more enduring than its individual leaders.”

Such evasive reasoning is balderdash. The ANC doesn’t merely tolerate scandal-prone Zuma, it actively promotes his image and his nonsensical, racist ramblings. The litany of his financial, legal, sexual and other misdemeanours before now should have been more than enough to sink him. If there are folk in the party who are embarrassed or offended by Zuma, they lack moral courage.

In the latest outrage, Zuma has publicly described the official opposition as “snakes” – and as the offspring of the National Party that governed during apartheid. For the record, the party which created apartheid and all its laws officially joined the ANC. It did not join the DA.

Leader Marthinus “Kortbroek” van Schalkwyk, was not the only Nat crosstitute. His equally oleaginous sidekicks, Daryl Swanepoel and Renier Schoeman, slithered across to run the euphemistically named Progressive Business Forum. That’s the crew who sell introductions to political heavyweights, charging R500 000 if you want to sit at the same table as the president. We needn’t ask where Zuma learned sleaze. A couple of Nats, Shaiks and Guptas – and Bob’s your uncle.

In the year of Penny Sparrow and monkey business, it is interesting that Zuma has been allowed to get away with calling opponents “snakes”.

Right. In that case, there should be no problem with the following. In the board game of snakes and ladders, the aim is to reach the top. Unless you are skilled at manipulating the outcome when the dice are rolled, it is a game of chance. You move up via ladders and down via snakes. It’s a gamble. The ANC are gambling by using Zuma as the face of the party. In this board game analogy, he is the symbolic snake who takes the party down.

Any successes which the ANC may seek to claim in municipal delivery are offset by Zuma’s scandals and blunders. He is an electoral liability. But it’s too late now to change, one week before the elections.

In the moral interpretation of the board game, snakes are vices that drag you down. Ladders are virtues and therefore uplifting. Having chosen the low moral road, the ANC cannot escape a downward spiral.

The party is confused and splintering. Here are examples. Is Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman in or out? Why are ANC members killing each other in KwaZulu-Natal, Tshwane and elsewhere? Is Zuma a hero or villain? Who knows? Just as a revolution devours its own children, some snakes eat their own tails. #ZumaMustFall.

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