I’m driving through Constantia past impenetrable electrified fences, marvelling at the way some people live and reminding myself that it’s all relative. And there’s an ANC election poster, hanging disconsolately on a tree with enough wood for four shacks.

Yeah, right. LOTS of votes coming their way from all these left-leaning Constantia folk. These houses have guest wings the size of my house. They have swimming pools the size of my lounge and kitchen combined. And I’m thinking that some people really do have too much money. That some people have riches far in excess of anything that seems fair and justifiable.

And I’m thinking about those crowds that come out for Zuma and sing and dance and swoon at his feet. How they love him, adore him, want to have his babies. And I’m thinking those aren’t fools, those people. Those people are pissed off. Those people have grown tired of waiting, waiting, waiting. They’re people who have yearned for so long, waited for so long for someone to come along and make a difference to their lives. THEIR lives. Not mine. Not the lives of these people in Constantia who have had so much for so long, many of whom were even born in these houses hugely disproportionate to their worth as human beings, where the children have their own wing and grow up thinking this is normal, this is how people live. Well, not in the real world, sunny boy. Not in my world and sure as hell not in the world of those people you see in the newspapers dancing at Zuma’s feet.

My home is so very much smaller than all of these but even my modest two-bedroom urban dwelling is a mansion compared with what many of these people call home. Who am I to say to these people that they should not vote for the man who – they believe, they think, they hope – will finally give them something more than Mbeki gave them or even Mandela gave them? He gave them their freedom, God bless him forever for that, but who will give them just a little wealth?

Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is what this election is really about. And if you haven’t worked that out yet, welcome back to planet Earth.

And I’m thinking that the time has come for anyone born to privilege to stand back for once and let the poor people come forward, let them have one more chance to find a place in the sun, one more chance at a life better than anything they have known before. And that if they think, if they truly believe, that this man is the one who will finally give them that, then let them have that chance, because none of us, not one of us, has ever given them that. We have had our chances, and we have failed them, so if this Zuma says he can do it, we hardly have a right to stand up and say, “but, but, but” … now do we?

I still will not vote for the man, but that is my democratic right and my choice. And there are many reasons why. But these people have more personal reasons for choosing Zuma than yours or mine. And we have to consider the inescapable fact that there are reasons why Jacob Zuma is about to be called to the presidency. And to wish him well with answering that call. And to hold him to account.

And I’m reminding myself – and I wrote this here on Thought Leader many months ago, long before the present debate – that the man remains untested, that there is still one thing, just one thing, that we do not know about Jacob Zuma. We do not know what Jacob Zuma is going to be like as a leader. We Do Not Know. And I have as many fears as the next man or woman – is the man going to be Idi Amin or some kind of dancing, clowning Madiba? We Do Not Know. But we can hope. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a whole new man who is going to emerge who we will all begin to see and begin to love, just as these prancing people love him now.

I’m hoping that those people are right, that he will finally bring some cheer, some solid, tactile improvement, to their material lives. And if he can find a justifiable, equitable, constitutional and democratic way to do so at the partial expense of some of these people who have so very much more than many of them deserve, I think he should go that route because it is high bloody time these things were put to rights. High time.

I do not support the Zimbabwean route of swarming onto farms and taking over without any thought for making the farm work and be part of a healthy economy. That way madness lies. But that does not mean that ways cannot be found to put things to rights, and that is what we need if this country is to survive and thrive. I don’t think there is any way around this, so we might as well get on with it and do something about it before Really Bad Things Start To Happen.

So I’m holding out for THAT Jacob Zuma, the one that those people see when they ululate and swoon. And if he comes forth, let’s welcome him, shake his hand, and dance a little. God knows we could all use some fun.

Now, deep breath everybody … here we go …


  • Tony Jackman is a journalist, budding playwright and sometime chef. He's written two plays, An Influence of Ghosts and Blue Train Coming, and back in the day wrote loads of songs. He paints a bit in watercolours when he remembers to, and apart from that he massages words and pushes grammar for a nice little magazine called myweek. Follow me on Twitter


Tony Jackman

Tony Jackman is a journalist, budding playwright and sometime chef. He's written two plays, An Influence of Ghosts and Blue Train Coming, and back in the day wrote loads of songs. He paints a bit in watercolours...

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