Azad Essa
Azad Essa

I don’t blame Zuma, I blame you

Three months before he was voted in as president, Zuma took out his machine gun and slipped a ball through Irvin Khoza’s legs. In most countries, this would be called “infidelity”, in South Africa it’s called shibobo.

No wonder we’re such poor footballers.

The knives are predictably out, not for a c-section, but for Zuma’s penchant to sleep with his friend’s daughters with disturbing regularity, and that too without a rubber.

So columnists, bloggers and newspapers — from Independent Newspapers to the Times to even the Daily Sun are alive with the sound of condom-nation for Zuma and his latest inglorious basterd.

Opposition parties are having a field day, asking for Zuma’s “head” on a platter.

“Zuma is not practising what he’s preaching”, “he is undermining HIV policy”, “we think he should resign” to my favourite “he is the wrong role model for youth looking to have sex with their best friends sisters/daughters/hot mothers”.

You can read all of that here. Or here. Or even here.

Of course they are all right.

There is no disputing that Zuma’s personal hygiene cannot be an example to the rest of us, that there should be some consequence for creating further ambiguity in the struggle to promote safe sex, trusting partners and friends you can trust with your daughter.

But unless Zuma hung his testicles in a museum, who knows, your mommy might be next.

And unless it is sex with a minor, an animal, Pieter-Dirk Uys, or all three, there is very little that can be done about it.

By implication, if we know our president is a nymphomaniac, what purpose do we serve by continuously focussing on it every time he refuses to wear a condom?

Why do we allow his lack of personal hygiene to create more ambiguity around HIV/Aids and then expect to place the blame squarely on his shoulders?

The guy has a problem; we know it. Either get him out of office, sew a condom around his crotch or buy him a black blow-up doll.

The question must be asked: Why does the media escape scrutiny regarding the broadcasting of his infidelities?

What purpose did this news serve to anyone except servicing free speech and creating the image of our president as a well-hung whore?

Did it bring the divided electorates in this country any closer to fighting against the pandemic or did it serve as just another opportunity to label each other and bring race, civilization and cultural values to a head?

Indeed, did this type of journalism open Zuma to a type of tangible public scrutiny or did it merely harden Zuma followers against any criticism of his leadership or lifestyle?

This is not about curtailing media freedom, or requesting to spank ourselves with self-censorship. This is about grooming real media might, where the watchdogs wield such power that they might be able to identify news as more than just a consumable to earn their daily bread.

This wasn’t a corruption scandal where heads could roll.

Of course Helen Zille thinks he is a pig. That is what she is supposed to say. Of course the African Christian something something thinks he should resign. This is their mandate.

The surge of anti-Zuma sentiment tells a tale of a ready-made-sitting-on-the-side-lines-dossier out to make the president seem a bigger tool than we already know he is.

Where does the actual struggle against HIV/Aids fit into all of this?

Is our Aids crisis not crying out loud enough for people to stop looking for ways to undermine a largely losing struggle?

When will this government, this media and this people put fighting HIV/Aids at the top of the agenda, over political games or points?

Of course the media needs to tell the news. They cannot always be sure of the type of impact, if any, a story will have.

But they can steer the direction.

As it stands, the manner in which this issue was presented seemed like ordinary outrage flushed down ordinary methods of quote and counter-quote by friends, foes and communication officers.

It is the most bland form of accepted journalism, which achieves nothing but showcase byte-sized prejudice.

An editorial that blasts Zuma or an op-ed that renounces such behaviour achieves precious little compared to the impact of breaking news.

Would it not have been purposeful if editors of the major media in this country had a private meeting with Zuma, discussed his infidelity and their concern that such news would devastate all positive developments in HIV awareness/safe behaviour and thereby putting his balls back into his court (or hands).

“Mr President, we will ignore your infidelities, for the sake of presenting a positive image to our nation and towards promoting healthier lives. But you should know that we know what you are up to. If, however, you are involved in corruption or fail to deliver the necessary health reforms needed, we are going to screw you. We are watching you very closely on those matters.”

Now that might have got him thinking.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep on dreaming.

  • John

    “Mr President, we will ignore your infidelities, for the sake of presenting a positive image to our nation and towards promoting healthier lives. But you should know that we know what you are up to. If, however, you are involved in corruption or fail to deliver the necessary health reforms needed, we are going to screw you. We are watching you very closely on those matters.”

    1. Blackmail? Are you being serious? You call this responsible?

    2. Is this not already the case? The last time he had his dick out in public, it resulted in very public rape charges. Obviously that scandal had no impact on him.

    “When will this government, this media and this people put fighting HIV/Aids at the top of the agenda…….. ”

    3. Is it not the plight of the media to expose when government is NOT doing these things. Not only are the leader of the country NOT putting AIDS prevention at the top of the governments agenda, he is having it pretty low in the list on his personal agenda. Is it not the obligation of the media to tell the people that the leader of their chosen government does not give a toss about the issue of safe sex?

    4. Is it not the obligation of AIDS activists to then come out and say that it is unacceptable for a leader to act in this way? Could silence on the issue not be seen as condonation of it?

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  • Dave Harris

    Well written Azad! Nice to see someone intelligent and courageous enough to see past this BS in the media.
    Unfortunately, this kind of divisive politics does irreparable damage to our fragile race relations. Like I said on other blogs, these euro trash moral judges with the warped cultural values are influenced by the old Victorian sexual mores – puritanical, repressive and moralistic. Another unfortunate side-effect of apartheid’s Christian indoctrination.

  • Fama Bumungo

    Dream on. I am willing to bet that Zuma would would make the right noises to the delegation, say goodbye to them and promptly go to do the usual business with the nearest and newest.

  • suntosh

    Interesting perspective. But obviously, it would’ve have been far from a popular move by, say, SANEF. And even then, when some random journo eventually blows the cover, do we all lose complete and utter faith in the Fourth Estate and conclude that Zuma is now sleeping with the media? Eish.

  • SKR

    “Would it not have been purposeful if editors of the major media in this country had a private meeting with Zuma”
    You have GOT to be kidding!! Anytime a public servant is caught out doing wrong and there is a media splash about it, some toady from the ANC bleats that the person should have ‘followed the appropriate channels’ or says there will be an ‘internal enquiry and investigation into the matter’ or ‘steps will be taken’ – and then we never hear another word about the matter.
    You can’t SERIOUSLY think that the media promising to keep this quiet – or else – would have the slightest impact on someone who’s proven by his behaviour to be a liar and a cheat?

  • chantal

    To my mind the media must just report the news, any news, nothing should be sacred, then it is up to the people to react, to discuss and to decide if they can learn something from this, then the media’s job is done.

  • Saberah

    do they even have black blow-up dolls? that man has charisma … i guess its a Zulu thing ya know

  • dd

    For most people, the highest form of shame would be having their dirty laundry aired. I guess JZ has become so accustomed to making headlines, that it doesn’t even matter to him any more.

    It’s obvious the president isn’t phased by what others think of him or his actions.
    The media are merely feeding his insatiable craving for attention. I think Azad maybe onto something with his “tactic”. Conventional methods obviously haven’t worked.

    This man, this individual, was chosen by our nation to represent this country.
    Is this really how we want to be seen?

  • Nina

    This is a winner thank you for the logic injection :)I was thinking just how effective all this public scrutiny about our governments petty screw ups are and came to the conclusion that while we might say our government doesn’t show a marked concern for it’s people we aren’t that concerned for ourselves, political soap operas are just another excuse for the sensationalist people to get their kicks off without having to lift a finger. and of course I am generalizing.

    That said for a body who looks for leadership from its head, our lack of positive engagement has essentially paralyzed our movement.

  • Azad Essa

    But of course John,

    It is not blackmail. we will be asking him to behave as a leader, or else. Does that seem like blackmail? Oh, I am sorry.

    Just imagine if he refuses. “No, my personal life is private”.

    What an awesome way of getting rid of him.

    AIDS activists can scream and shout as loud as they wish, but the broadcasting of this behaviour cannot be the solution unless there is a move to move beyond the cauldron of Zuma quoting/Opposition quoting/Aids activist quoting.

    The message becomes unclear all over again. It gets mixed up with general anti-Zuma sentiment…no?

    When the President says he gives a toss and then the media repeatedly shows that he really does not give a toss in his private life – but he remains in office, the news just disappears into oblivion – the question I am asking – who suffers the most?? what suffers the most??

    A coherent message of hiv/aids/safe sex etc to the nation suffers the most.

    Of course this article is unrealistic. But it is still an idea.

    Of course people aren’t going to agree wid me.

    We live in a world where freedoms are so important, we’d rather shoot ourselves than give up a certain freedom that might hurt us/others.

    Just look how it has been brushed aside by the ANC…like an old newspaper article.

    I am not saying don’t report it. I’m saying report it with purpose.

  • InternAfrica

    The reason we need the media to point out the hypocrisy is simple:

    Who can compete with the state machinery of preaching lies?

  • HD

    It is not the responsibility of the media to push any specific line or story.

    Sorry, but you clearly have no idea of what a democracy, free press or plural society mean…

  • Mike

    Now you’ve done it Azad! Siphiwo and Dave Harris are going to come after you with their machine guns blazing. They are going to call you an unreconstructed racist who longs for the days of apartheid. You are going to be called an untransformed white bigot who should emigrate to Australia.

  • Jan Hofmeyr

    Yea not quite sure what you’re getting at

  • Owen

    ‘black blow-up doll’ – now why did u have to bring race into blow up dolls?

    I agree with John.

  • Hugh Robinson

    Azad talk about missing the issue as most SA citizens do.

    This is a Moral/integrity issue. This is one whether we can trust the President to make good decisions.

    If I was your good friend who screwed then made your daughter pregnant. Would you consider that such a person is worthy of your friendship or respect?

    I think not he is an employess of the SA people chosen by the people to lead the country with honour and dignity not a demi god like so many think.

  • Disgusted

    Mbeki showed anger at black men constantly being portrayed as sex maniacs by the media – when the president of a country acts like this what is the public supposed to think?
    JZ headed the Moral Regeneration crusade – what a sick joke!
    AIDS awareness preached and spent millions on promoting the ABC’s – each one blatantly and continuously ignored by JZ
    Awareness, Be faithful and Condomize.
    He has several wives and still goes outside his marriage for sex! What an insult to his wives and women in general!
    The minority (of taxpayers) are asked to buy into NHI to pay for treatment and eradicate the scourge of AIDS – why? So that those that are promiscuous can get their rocks off with multiple partners and unsafe sex practices!!
    If the JZ/ANC/ANCYL want his private life to be kept private, he should step down immediately and allow someone with moral integrity to step up to the plate and show leadership.
    JZ is a disgrace – plain and simple and it IS the duty of the media to highlight anything, and everything he does that is detrimental to South Africa’s image as a whole!

  • Disgusted

    February 5th, 2010 at 9:11 am Refers :
    “AIDS awareness preached and spent millions on promoting the ABC’s – each one blatantly and continuously ignored by JZ
    Awareness, Be faithful and Condomize.”

    Awareness should be ABSTINENCE!!

  • Daytona

    This is definitly the best piece written about the wanderings of our 1st citizen. You rock Mr Essa!

  • Paul Young

    How convenient no mention made of the serious corruption issues that have been hanging over his head for some time. Wiggle here, wiggle there, cover-up here, cover-up there, and we get what we deserve. This is Africa, and our nation is no different from the rest of Africa. We only like to think so. the whiteys must stop their incessant whining. The DA must concentrate on CT while they have it and make no comments about the rest of the country. One thing is certain, if a whitey proposes something, it matters not one iota how positive that proposal is, the darkeys will shout it down and put it in file 13 without blinking an eye. You whiteys want service delivery, then shut up and let the elected government get on with it.

  • John

    So what I get from your last answer is this:

    1. We should get rid of Zuma. My view is he should never have been elected in the first place, but THAT was an unrealistic hope.

    2. Reporting on the things he does that we don’t like, is not getting us anywhere, because his supporters are just galvanizing more and more behind him in such instances.

    3. We should hold his private life ransom. In turn, he must act more presidential. Yet you concede that even if his scandals are made public, nothing happens.

    I do believe that reporting on this issue serves some purpose. It is saying to people this is how not to behave. Even if the newspapers did not report on this, it would have gotten into the ear of Joe Public through other means.

    This is not the media embarrasing our President, it is our Presindent embarrasing our President. Those were his actions, not the actions of the media. If he does not want to be embarrased, then he must (in this case) keep his zipper up.

  • John

    @Dave: Please be specific on what is so horrific about Christain morals?

  • Jojo

    Azad you read my mind. The media keeps harping on about a decay in morals yet they continuously fail to report on “people who set good examples”. WHat is the point in giving so much attention to the very thing you claim is wrong?

    I am an ANC supporter and the biggest fan of all it’s leaders (Zuma and Malema especially). I have recently adopted an attitude of annoying bloggers who bash these two. I would point out the fact that they talk about Zuma and Malema everyday. They therefore are obssessed with the two of them. I would then move to ask people to give alternatives if they are so unhappy with Zuma and Malema. To date, everyone fails to come up with their preferred leader because they are so busy focused on the very people they dislike. It really makes you wonder who the smart ones are if Zuma and Malema arent. Why would any intelligent person spend much of their time discussing people they deem to be “idiots”?

  • GUS

    One problem Azad. JZ was almost I repeat almost able to mesmerise Helen Zille. Fortunately, she has enough common and female sense to see through the fellow. I’m not sure newspaper editors have the same fortitude.
    No, I feel the president’s or any other politician’s shameful conduct must be exposed (graphically, if necessary) and reporting or not reporting should not be subject to whether it serves any purpose. It must be based on newsworthiness and should also ignore the sensitivities of South Africans. We need to see the president and politicians for who they really are and what preoccupies their minds. Some will love them for it and others will insist that they go. Of course, it is largely the ANC that is prolific in its misconduct, and that is why we are having this debate because they and the supporters (the majority) are embarrassed and don’t like it one bit. So, rather than changing their ways (my view) they prefer to muzzle free debate.
    On the other hand, do newspapers really matter? We’ll get the news on blogs and online channels anyway.

  • Steve

    Im not the over the top politically correct type but I didn´t see the need for you to describe the blow up doll as black or refer to his child as an ´´inglorious bastard´´ . Those two comments put me off what could have been an interesting read.

  • Alan

    Yassus Dave Harris Did you actually read Azad’s piece? If you did you’ll find that the hardest questions he poses are about the damage our pres is inflicting on our fight against HIV. This has fuckall to do with victorian morality so stuff that little straw man back where it belong and take a long think about how blind followers become “hardened against any criticism of his leadership”
    @ Azad, with so many women having seen our president’s privates, should we not begin referring to them as his publics? This may partly address concerns over undue media attention.
    This of course does not excuse the media but may explain why they flog our president so, the basterds!

  • Tanya

    Totally agree Azad. And yes our media must report what is going on in our society, govt & politics but, I couldn’t agree more with your statement that they need to “report it but do it with purpose”.

  • Wonkie

    Azad – great article but I think you really fail to see that Mr Zuma has a dream – just like Martin Luther King… I think you’ll enjoy the Zuma cartoon on

    Viva Zuma! Viva free love!

  • Azad Essa

    Thanks for reading.

    @Steve I admit, with this writing style, you tend to win some/lose some.

    @ Alan ah – his public pubics? maybe they dont get to see em…

    @ Gus – yes, fair point. hard to disagree about “purpose” or “newsworthy”. the ANC’s conduct is a big issue here. their response is just not good enough

    @ Jojo – focussing on that which you dislike all the time is really precious. if the media ignored Malema….his words wouldn’t really matter.

    @ Paul Young – no point bringing everything up…

    @ Hugh Robinson – with all due respect. I think you miss the point of my article..

    about the black blow-up doll. do those things exist? its not a race thing, its just a doll 😛

  • Disgusted

    @Jojo – you want an alternative nomination?
    Try Moeletsi Mbeki – I think he has more brains and integrity in his little finger than JZ and Malema have in their whole bodies combined!!

  • Mymoena Arnold

    Let us look at facts.
    1) Pres Zuma enjoys polygamous marriages,multiple gfs and doing his bit for procreation. We knew this well before he was voted into office.
    2) His electoral mandate emphasised on service delivery. To date alot of heads have rolled, and govt services nationwide have been officially warned to step up their game or else.
    3) He says it like it is, even if we disagree.
    4) His personal life might be in total disarray but he has placed healthcare esp HIV/AIDS pandemic as a priority awareness and committed to investing in this campaign.

    So while he is doing what he promised to deliver to the populace he can go hump a cow for all I care and milk it for all its worth.
    We all knew what the man was about from the start. The media has become too sensationalist driven to feed their financial greed and influence their power levels within SAn media domain.Sometimes I feel as if I am trapped inside tabloid hell.

    Zuma might have one too many personal indiscretions,but if he is getting the job done that he was elected for,I would be the last one to sit back and be that armchair critic!

    Zumaphobia is seriously getting out of hand now and we losing focus on the REAL grassroots issues and what matters most.
    Wake up there are ppl dying to live and time is running out!

  • Mmanoko Pitja

    He continues to lie to us. How dare we be asked to judge him on his delivery record. He delivered pain and sufferring to his children who now have to defend his indescretions in public. He can’t lead his party and country; He is a butt of jokes internationally and amongst his very own comrades and cabinet colleagues. That’s his delivery record.

  • Sam

    Well said. thank you

  • Disgusted

    @ Mymoena Arnold – sorry I disagree with your statement to whit ….
    >4) His personal life might be in total disarray but he has placed healthcare esp HIV/AIDS pandemic as a priority awareness and committed to investing in this campaign.

  • Disgusted

    @ Mymoena Arnold – sorry I disagree with your statement to whit ….
    >4) His personal life might be in total disarray but he has placed healthcare esp HIV/AIDS pandemic as a priority awareness and committed to investing in this campaign.

  • An observer

    At least part of your article is about the media and its powers and responsibilities.

    If the media chose not to report on this matter, or if the media chose to report on the matter in a way other than breaking gossip
    – would we focus any more on developmental challenges?
    – would the rate of aids infection be any lower down the line?
    – would it make that sick feeling in our guts go away (the one which reminds us that we have a long way to go before everyone around us goes to bed on a full stomach in a warm safe loving home and in a healthy body)?

    As reader, writer and subject:
    – can we make different inputs?
    – can we integrate differently?
    – most importantly,can we have different outcomes?


    Perhaps not.

    Perhaps the jury is still out on this one.