A shocked silence greets Gertruida’s question. Resign? Our President? After all that he’s gotten away with?
“Why, Gertruida? He’s due for another term – it’s basically a question of rubber stamping a decision the ANC already took. They won’t let him.”
“Look, Vetfaan, you may think what you want, but the top structure of the ANC isn’t stupid. They’re highly intelligent men and women – the women especially – and they’ve had a lot to think about lately.” Gertruida – who not only knows everything, but also still maintains good contact with her old Intelligence buddies – waits for Boggel to serve another beer.
“The Fake Interpreter Scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. I Googled ‘Court Cases Against Zuma’, and twenty million references. Twenty Million!. Now, maybe those hits only refer to the alleged 700-odd cases he was and is involved in, but it does say something. Add to that the obvious hostility displayed at the Mandela Memorial, and you’ve got some very worried comrades out there.”
“But you can’t blame the interpreter for the president’s problems. That’s not fair.”
“True, but he heads the government. The buck stops with him. Think about it: they’re now blaming mental illness as the cause for the interpreter’s actions. I think it’s blatantly unfair. That poor man was contracted to do a job. And that’s the point where the analysis should begin. Who interviewed him? The person who suggested his services should have made a thorough check of his background. Simple things like: can he perform in front of a global audience? Does he have the security clearance to stand next to some of the most influential and powerful men on the planet? Does he own any dangerous weapons? Does he have a grudge against somebody? Is he on medication? Does he have a medical condition?
“So, let’s say he passes that scrutiny. Now that screening committee must make a collective decision and suggest his services to the organising body. He gets appointed to share more television time than any of the other dignitaries appearing on that stage on the day. He is to be the face of South Africa to millions of hearing and deaf people viewing the broadcast.”
Vetfaan nods. “So he’s a very important part of the ceremony?”
“Exactly. It turns out to be a slight miscalculation, and the world picks up on it. This time there’s no Constitutional Court to hide behind. So…what does the Powers-That-Be do? They shift the blame to this hapless man. No, they’re saying, it wasn’t us. He must take the fall.
“Spin. That’s all it is. Spin. And let me tell you: I feel sorry for him. Whether he’s a con-man or even if he has a serious medical condition, it’s not really his fault alone. He should never have been appointed.”
Kleinpiet nods. “But even so, Gertruida, you can’t expect the president to resign as a result of that?”
“I agree, but you should read the letter from Dr Barney Pityana, Kleinpiet. It is a damning message if ever I saw one. Most of all, Pityana isn’t happy about the way crime, corruption and the decay of morals in the country are experienced by the majority of the people. He blames the president for that, and he might be right.
“After all, when you compare the hope we had under Mandela with the despair we live in now, you can understand his argument. And did you not hear the reception the crowd gave the president the other day?
“No, my friends, there’s something terribly rotten in our system. If the ANC doesn’t clear up this mess, they’re going to get a terrible hiding at the polls next year.”
Boggel slumps on the counter, clearly upset.
“This whole thing makes me sad. So terribly sad. What has happened to Madiba’s dream? A country ruled in fairness to all it’s peoples? A just government, portraying the hopes and aspirations of a wonderful nation?
“Let us hope that clear minds and cool heads consider the questions raised. The interpreter is just a symptom, you guys. We need to address the disease, not blame that poor man for the real problem.”
Then, cynic that he is, he toasts the interpreter’s health. “Maybe he actually did us all a favour. He conveyed the right message, after all. He told us in no uncertain terms who we shouldn’t vote for next year.”