In a fit of pre-Christmas indulgence I invested in the box set of DVDs of the final five episodes of the Poirot TV series, starring David Suchet. Included is an interview with the actor recalling a visit to Agatha Christie’s Torquay home to meet her heirs, and to win their approval before he finally landed the role. Tellingly, he explains how they insisted that in his betrayal of the fictional Belgian detective, he should always ensure that the viewer laughs with Poirot, not at him. The difference is important. A lovable eccentric is a very different creature to a figure of fun.
Which brings me to Nkandla.
Twitter has been abuzz today with some of the funniest and wittiest material I have ever seen there, following the latest report on our President’s residence. Never has our Head of State been a greater figure of fun. Or it would be fun if we weren’t the ones funding most of it.
Contrast Zuma to Mandela, to whom the nation bade a fond farewell this month. He had his faults, he had a struggle past with which many white South Africans still take issue. But he was a uniting figure, the man who so disappointed all those TV scum who travelled here in 1994, hoping that the country would fall into civil war once the Nationalist Party handed over power to the ANC (with the help of millions of voters). He delivered a rainbow to the nation.
Of course we did not bury the wrong President, as Mandela had reached the end of his natural life, and deserved a dignified farewell. But without a credible and visible rival, it seems pretty certain that Zuma will be back in the Union Buildings, and will not be retiring to Nkandla, after next year’s elections.
Should we worry? It seems that most British politicians who fiddled the expenses system and were exposed by the Daily Telegraph will have paid the price for their sleazy activities, because the system is designed to deal with such behaviour.
However, our own politicians seem to enjoy a ring of protection, not just around their luxury compounds, but around their ability to fund their private extravagance – or that of their families or lovers – from the public purse. In this regard it is indeed disturbing to hear of citizens of this country being uprooted from their homes because their proximity to the Presidential Xanadu. Of course our Head of State and his chickens and cattle and wives and pool guards and tuck shop assistants need protection. But it is how you handle these things that matters. The Blue Light, Blue Label aloofness is unfortunate.
So while Mandela will live on in the hearts of many, Zuma’s greatest legacy is likely to be in the cartoons.
For we laugh at him, not with him
Tweets of the Day:
Famous-Quote.net (@famousquotenet): I want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution. – Harry Browne
Puns (@omgthatspunny): I changed my I Pod name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
Funny Tweets (@iQuoteComedy): Are oranges named orange because they’re orange or is orange called orange because oranges are orange?
The QI Elves (@qikipedia): I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police. – KEITH RICHARDS
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