News24 journalist Msizi Zondi reported this just after it happened, and after 24 hours it doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact yet: Jacob Zuma spoke at an Abundant Life church service on Sunday 14 May and, in isiZulu, his first language, he said the following:

If I am not told what I have done wrong, I cannot correct my mistakes because I don’t know what I have done wrong.

Perhaps you should read that again.

If you’re staring at disbelief at your screen right now, wondering if this something The Onion dreamed up, how about this one:

[People say] ‘there is a problem in our country,’ as they say ‘there is a crisis’. Why? What has happened?

You’d be forgiven for thinking this might be April Fool’s Day in the middle of May. Statements like these are more than a little hard to fathom. The most controversial president in modern South Africa’s history, a man who has single-handedly brought ruin upon his country, has said in public that he can’t figure out what the fuss is all about.

It was a wild day in Durban on Sunday: torrential rain, freezing temperatures, and the president of the country on his knees in a huge tent outside a FIFA ™ Football ™ Stadium being prayed for by all manner of Pharisees.

Perhaps these Biblical conditions can account for the cryptic utterances from the president’s mouth:

We always hear [people]… talk about Zuma. No one has come out to say ‘Zuma has done this and that’. Other than that Zuma has a movement.

The day the movement feels Zuma is no longer a good leader, is the one… [where they say] ‘so we think this [his removal]… should happen’.

Sometimes we get confused because [the] people who voted against the ANC have never changed – they are the ones…today who are saying that [Zuma must be removed].

Zuma, the Third Person. The Holy Spirit of the ANC.

Here’s another good one:

It is like [some] people – they start from the morning until sunset saying ‘this [person] is a dog, this one has stolen’, but they cannot even show a cent that you have stolen. [loud cheering]

I don’t have to say anything really; these words speak for themselves. South Africa’s president is a deeply disturbed man, a narcissist who is simply not in the  wrong. You have to admire his courage though: think about how brave you’d have to be, knowing you were guilty of everything your detractors accused you of, to get up on a public platform and announce, with the press in attendance, that you have no idea why people are so angry with you.

It’s astounding. But, sadly, it’s Africa. “TIA”, as Leonardo di Caprio taught us in that outrageous accent. This is the continent of that sustains Robert Mugabe, after all. We shouldn’t be surprised.

The poor out-of-her-depth eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede, also spoke to Sunday’s congregation. She implored:

I am saying today we have come to pray, to pray for this poor man. He is also a human being… what has he done?

Poor, poor Jacob. Shame on you, civil society. Shame on you, democratic citizens. Shame on you, Fallists. Shame on you, white racists. Shame on you all, you insensitive rabble.

Let us pray.


Thanks to Msizi Zondi. The article was published on Monday 15 May 2017, and didn’t seem to spark any comment.