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State of Rapture – How the craziest day in South Africa history unfolded 0

Protesters in South Africa have called for President Jacob Zuma to resign after the release of a report that found “possible evidence of corruption” at top government levels. Afronline’s shares the commentary of Richard Poplak, Senior writer at The Daily Maverick.

How did the looniest day in post-postmodern South African history dawn?

The earth rotated on its axis, and in an ancient, ever-persuasive visual gag, the sun appeared to rise.

It rose over dry fields and dusty dales, over ragged townships and Tuscan townhouses, over empty dams and bony cattle. Mostly, though, it rose over St Albans Cathedral, which is located in the centre of Executive Mayor Solly Msimanga’s Tshwane, and was at the time of the sun’s theatrics filling up with the country’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens. Specifically, in a hall off to the side of the church, the sun shone in its full glory upon those attending the launch of the much-ballyhooed, widely discussed Save South Africa campaign.

The initiative was initially set up to support Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Famously, the minister has of late been hounded by the National Prosecuting Authority, the head of which has charged him on counts of fraud and theft – charges so thin that lawyers in North Korea were chuckling at their spuriousness. Today, along with two former colleagues, Gordhan was scheduled to make an appearance in the Pretoria High Court. Instead, the NPA’s Shaun Abrahams performed a humiliating back flip and dropped the charges, so… damp squib.

But no!

Save South Africa was, we were told, bigger than one mission; it was not a reprise of the unloved Zuma Must Fall movement of last year, which was notable for how many yoga mats featured at its marches. Challenges we face aplenty: don’t forget, on Wednesday Jacob Zuma was also fighting to interdict the release of the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, a matter that would be heard later that morning, and on which the president’s future was almost entirely dependent.

Save South Africa’s logo depicts a proud young black woman in profile, her hair wrapped in an elaborate doek. (This has caused some controversy, considering the lack of same in the movement’s upper echelons.) The campaign, according to the website, is comprised of “organisations, civil society groups, business leaders, prominent individuals, South African citizens and supporters of the founding principles of our democracy.” That’s quite the cabal, and the courage on display was indeed heartwarming, which slowly progressed to heart-burning as more defendants – I mean participants – arrived in their sinister Uber Blacks. The proceedings started late, spin-meister-in-chief Chris Vick informed us, because we were “waiting for business”, a jocular reference to Big Money’s reticence when it comes to weighing in on matters of national interest. We would nonetheless spirit through the presser, because the great and the powerful had “organisations to run”, and they didn’t really have time for a long drawn-out lip-flap with the media.

Well, thank St Alban for small mercies.

While there are indubitably really amazing human beings among the campaign’s members – for instance, there are only minor theological points differentiating Section 27’s Mark Heywood from Jesus Christ – not everyone among Save SA’s number counts as a mensch. Much of the campaign’s momentum has been generated from the fact that it is backed by 81 – count em! – 81 CEOs, some of whom run the country’s biggest, baddest corporates. Alongside people who fight for the most vulnerable citizens on this Earth, you have the likes of Colin Coleman, head of the local branch of Goldman Sachs, who in 2013 released a report called “Two Decades of Freedom: A 20-year Review of South Africa”, a document that effectively inspired the ANCs Good Story to Tell campaign, erased all the insanely corrupt shenanigans perpetrated by the Zuma administration, and informed us – or, rather, informed its base of emerging market investor suckers – that everything down south was just A-okay.

Continue reading on The Daily Maverick

By Richard Poplak

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi