The growing enigma of our embattled president continues to explore new avenues. It seems almost as if Jacob Zuma has a death wish, inviting all the horsemen of the apocalypse to charge him, head on.
Over the weekend, the looming abyss between the ANC under Zuma and the SA Communist Party (SACP) ramped up another significant notch, while the outspoken Anglican theologian and human rights lawyer Barney Pityana launched an attack from a completely different flank.
Ironically, Zuma, fresh from Fidel Castro’s funeral in Cuba, came under fire from SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila during a memorial service for the revolutionary leader at Cosatu House.
Mapaila went directly for the jugular, accusing Zuma of handing over presidential prerogatives to friends, factions and “hangers-on”. He warned that Cabinet did not belong to Zuma and pointed the finger at the president’s “worshippers and praise singers”, slating them as not being worthy revolutionaries.
This clearly signals a new level of general disenchantment in the uneasy relations between the SACP and the ANC leader within the ruling tripartite alliance.
Pityana’s ire was raised in heated reply to a speech Zuma delivered at the Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ congregation in Durban, in which the president castigated church leaders who spoke out against him, conveniently including the media, to link – uncomfortably we would suggest – an unlikely marriage between the clergy and the fourth estate.
Zuma was strongly warned not to make enemies of the church. “Has he not made enough enemies as it is?” was Pityana’s sardonic comment.
Both rebukes are testimony to the bad blood boiling furiously to the surface and indicates that the battle lines are being drawn.
For the sake of all our citizens, we hope that this does not spell a reprise of the line in Apocalypse Now: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”