South African President Jacob Zuma listens at a news conference in Cape Town, in this September 10, 2009 file photo. Reuters/Mike Hutchings/Files
With their economy flatlining, currency on the ropes and politics in turmoil, many South Africans are turning to humor for relief, mainly at the expense of President Jacob Zuma and his $16-million home improvements.
Within minutes of Zuma surviving Tuesday’s heated impeachment vote in parliament thanks to unanimous support from African National Congress (ANC) loyalists, the 73-year-old traditionalist Zulu was facing another roasting on the nation’s irreverent stand-up circuit.
“Jacob Zuma is the dude who just threw up all over the dance floor but still doesn’t want to go home,” comedian Lazola Gola quipped, to roars of laughter at an open mike event at Kitchener’s Bar, a 100-year-old watering hole built in the heyday of Johannesburg’s gold rush.
For comedians, Zuma is the gift that keeps on giving, a politician whose career has run the full gamut of scandal, from a love-child and corruption charges to foot-in-mouth insults of African countries and his belief, expressed during a 2006 rape trial, that having a shower can prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS.
However, no episode has surpassed the six-year imbroglio over the “security upgrades” to his sprawling Nkandla private residence that included an amphitheatre, swimming pool, cattle enclosure and chicken run.
Even though South Africa’s top court said last week he had broken the constitution by disobeying a watchdog’s order to pay back some money,…