” one may smile and smile and be a villain…” By Devi Rajab.

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I opened my diminutive book on Zen spiritual wisdom before writing this column ( more as a detraction from embarking on a task than an inspiration to perform)  and it read ; “Your working life is an expression of what you believe in, and how much good you desire to do in the world”. My mind rambled along to good things, great and small and in case one may think one is too small and insignificant to make a difference the Dalai Lama reminds us of the power of the mosquito under your bed sheets and the havoc it can cause in disturbing even the President of SA more so than the messages from critical journalism. For the power of this insight and other moral lessons the Dalai Lama was banned from entering our country while a man with dubious credentials as Omar al- Bashir the Sudanese President wanted for genocide and human rights abuses by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was welcomed and allowed free access and protection against arrest in SA. Are we hypocrites, sycophants or national imbeciles?  At the helm of our nation is a smiling, dancing, singing, charming President with limited ambitions for us and himself. Shakespeare reminds us of deceptive nature of cosmetic social veneers: that (Hamlet)

In expressing the extent of the good that he desires to leave behind upon his retirement from politics, President Zuma has once again provided the fodder for his critics to label him a failed leader.  It would seem that he is a man of simple ambitions better suited to business than to leading a nation. In fact one wonders whether he would be better suited to be a leader of a small clan when he articulates his desires  to build his own mall in Nkandla and for posterity a square named after him. What a small ambition for a leader of a nation whose fame will be measured by the extent of all his infamous excesses: Shaikgate, Guptagate, Marikana, Nkandlagate….and now Bashirgate . In the Chambers Dictionary of Political Biography what will be written of a man called Jacob Zuma ? It would probably say that under his leadership he displayed a blatant disregard to world opinion and to his own constitutional court orders. It would say that he acted outside of the framework of international law and thrown his support behind the ‘little’ Big Men of Africa. It would say that he displayed  expediency over leadership. It would say that the reasons he gave were politically motivated arguments in the ubiquitous battle against racism perceived or otherwise, between Africa and the West.
True there is ground for serious questioning of the excesses of Western leaders like Bush and Blair but this logic should not absolve bad African leaders from abusive reigns of terror. Up north we see Mugabe trashing his country to its bare bones and yet when he comes to SA we treat him as a stately old gentleman who mouths racial slurs at journalists and has half his countrymen sojourning in a hostile SA with languid dreams of wanting to go back home.
When we defend the indefensible and fight the racial gremlins with a tit for tat philosophy we demean ourselves in the process and compromise on a higher sense of morality.   In doing so, we fail to understand the bigger picture of world cooperation, of law and order and of universal human rights. The issue at stake is about siding with those accused of perpetrating acts of genocide and crimes against humanity instead of acting on behalf of victims of such atrocities as mass murders, rape, mutilation and torture. Where are our values?
A President who dreams of malls and squares surely has no time to read the copious pages of the Marikana report. He needs one month to do so which will cost the nation for the most expensive reader in the world. What does tape aids charge to read a book? All around us our country is being strangled by inefficiency for which we are paying heavily to those whose only real service is measured by the extent of their obsequious patronage. In the meantime we stifle creativity, talent and reinforce mediocrity. Our country is bleeding before our eyes and we as taxpayers are obliged to pay up with gagged mouths.
What most SA want is what I want too, having lived under the oppressive madness of apartheid rule for much of my adult life. Now all I long for is to avert the bleakness which Mathew Arnold warns us of in his riveting poem on human frailty entitled Dover Beach:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night


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