Columns 21.8.2017 06:00 am

The Zumas and the Mugabes will rule for years to come

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at Ahmed Kathrada's funeral, 29 March 2017. Picture: Tracy-Lee Stark

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at Ahmed Kathrada's funeral, 29 March 2017. Picture: Tracy-Lee Stark

Don’t believe the hype that either family’s enemies have a chance of ascending to the throne.

Here’s my prediction for Women’s Month: in two years’ time, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be the head of state in Pretoria and Grace Mugabe will be her counterpart in Zimbabwe.

That woke you up on a Monday, didn’t it? That is not my low-road scenario for both countries, nor is it scaremongering.

It is simply an unemotional examination of the phenomenon – common to both countries – of a long-term dynasty being put in place.

The term scaremongering might well be levelled at me by those who still believe that the anti-Zuma faction within the ANC has the power to change events. Frankly, if you believe that, then let me remind you: beware confusing what you want with reality.

Just by virtue of the fact that you are reading this, you are part of an elite within a minority: educated, with access to money (probably with a job) to buy a newspaper or to have internet access to read it online.

You do not fit the profile of a typical Jacob Zuma supporter, many of whom are impoverished, conservative traditionalists who seldom criticise the “chief”.

These are not the comfortable whites (connected with monopoly or not) or the “clever blacks” that Zuma frequently tears into. So, let’s look at the move towards family dynasties in both countries.

Grace Mugabe, always the power behind the throne in Zimbabwe, has, on multiple occasions, demonstrated that, as with any royal family member, mere rules and legalities do not apply to her.

Many of her businesses were acquired in this way and she and her husband have worked well together in looting whatever is left in a dirt-poor country.

She has made it clear, in recent months, that she is a player in the unfolding succession race in Zimbabwe. Once Mugabe dies, having anointed Grace as his successor, the dynasty will continue.

One day, perhaps the couple’s waster sons – princes living in gilded luxury in South Africa while their compatriots starve at home – might, too, ascend to the throne.

In South Africa, we have assorted princes and princesses within the Zuma royal family: Duduzane, Edward and Khulubuse have benefited magnificently from their connection to the king.

It has been clear for some time that Jacob Zuma intends to continue the family dynasty by having his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, take over in December as head of the ANC and then head of the country.

She, naturally, will continue to nurture the vines of the Zuma family tree, including offering her former husband amnesty for his misdeeds … and probably erecting statues of him and naming roads after him.

Like any feudal overlord, Zuma realises that intrigue and muscle are the ways to secure your crown. And the courtiers around him differ only in the amount of fawning and boot-licking they are prepared to do.

So, the serfs of the populace and the courtiers of the ANC are going to enable Zuma to become emperor and, even after his wife takes over, he will still be the power behind the throne.

The country’s jewels will continue to be piled up in the Zuma and the Gupta counting houses.

And, one day when we contemplate the emperor in all his glory, it is he who will be wearing the expensive clothes and we, his subjects, who will be naked, hungry and cold.

Citizen acting deputy editor Brendan Seery.

Citizen acting deputy editor Brendan Seery.

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