Boychik, have I got the girl for you

… but just lose the leopard skins, doll

Karen Bliksem, Sunday Independent, Johannesburg. 9 March 2008

Sometimes, Jacob "Zoom-zoom" Zuma, the president-elect, can be such a silly-billy that I despair.

Did you see him on TV the other night?

As he was speaking to a gathering organised (as best I know) by Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, and held at Investec bank, Zuma was asked by some wily questioner whether he would marry a Jewish woman.

Rocked back on his feet, so to speak, as though he had been punched on his glass chin by Mike Tyson and not merely asked a question, Zuma thought for a second or three, covering the creaking of his cerebral machinery with his infectious and charming laugh, and then said: "Well, if you make someone available … we can talk."

Jacob, if you think you have troubles now, with the Scorpions, the national prosecuting authority, and so on, well, boychik, you marry a Jewish gal and see what happens.

You think the Polokwane mob, baying for the blood of various people, was awesome? Wait till your Jewish wife's family shows up in the living-room for a word or two. Wait till your wife tells you that, sans a tie and collar, you can forget about Friday night supper - and demands to know if you really have to keep those vershtunkende leopard skins in the cupboard? And do those gloomy Shaik boys have to be hanging about when the girls from the book club are due?

Take it from me, Jacob, you'll be praying for a dark, single cell, filled with scorpions, before a week or two has passed.

Really, the chief rabbi should be more careful about waving such temptations under the nose of the man who is set to be our next president. I seem to recall having read somewhere in the Talmud that if a mouse steals a piece of cheese from the kitchen table, you, not the mouse, are considered culpable because you put temptation in the mouse's way.

It reminds me of that lovely cartoon of a middle-aged couple seated in their living-room. The man looks up from his newspaper and says to his spouse: "What's this about gays and lesbians wanting to get married? Haven't they suffered enough?"

Anyway, it looks as though Zuma has decided that it's time for a charm offensive or something. He's been all over the place lately, saying things and generally stirring it up.

A few weeks ago he said something about our labour legislation possibly needing a change here or there. Then, this week (I believe also at the Investec function) he said he could see no harm in a referendum on the death penalty. Oh yes, and he also said, somewhere or other, that the Seffrican - that is, Mbeki - way of handling Mugabe was just dandy. And then, as I've just noted, he indicated that he still has place in his bed for a few more partners.

Personally, I think Zuma has as much right as anyone to freedom of speech. And I think that a death penalty referendum would cause an untold amount of trouble in this country, though that's something of which I am always in favour. Our lives are much too quiet. Besides, such a referendum could be a timely reminder to us of the abyss that lies between what we truly are and what we think we ought to be - the Dystopia of reality versus the Utopia set out in the constitution.

As for Zuma's apparent penchant for extended polygamy, I don't interfere in what goes on between consenting adults in private. Hey, I'm from the sixties, or thereabouts.

But I am not Zuma's problem. I am nobody, as Ulysses remarked to the one-eyed giant. I am not even a member of the soccer World Cup organising committee, the Forum for Black Journalists, or the rabbinate.

No, Zuma's problem is the fellows who hang out in the smoke-filled rooms not too far from the railway line, where dusty copies of Karl Marx's Das Kapital and Grundrisse lie unopened on the dusty shelves and the folks wear red caps made in China by under-paid and over-exploited labourers - I have one, it's very comfortable.

No names, no pack drill, but the word is that these fellows are feeling a trifle ticked off with Zoom-zoom because he seems to have lost the script or not bothered to read it. He's not supposed to be saying many of the things that he has, and some people allege that he is merely saying whatever he thinks a particular audience would like to hear.

Well, of course he is. He intuitively knows what is taught in life coaching, MBA studies and the average family: figure out what the audience wants to hear, tell it to them, and win friends and influence people. Nobody is going to hear what they don't want to hear anyway, as I'm sure is also written somewhere in the Talmud.

Another person who doesn't like what someone else is saying is Trevor Manuel, the minister of finance.

He particularly doesn't like the stuff that someone called Terry Crawford-Browne has been saying about him and this week he won an interim interdict against the fellow, barring him from alleging criminal conduct by the minister in relation to the government's arms deal.

What is wrong with this Crawford-Orange? Does he not know that the finance minister is a sensitive chap - he dislikes having his photo taken at public conferences - and is moreover a stalwart of the national democratic revolution and therefore beyond censure?

Does this Crawford-Greene not understand that it's perfectly okay to allege misconduct in relation to the arms deal when you are alleging it against Zuma or Chippy Shaik - but not against Manuel?

Clearly, Crawford-Blue has no sense of what is right and wrong and wouldn't last more than a minute at a Jewish wedding, especially Zuma's.


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