LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Zuma’s arrest doesn’t make me happy, but rather evokes pain

Mark Botha in Cape Town, Western Cape, pens an open letter to former president Jacob Zuma following his arrest. “You will be remembered, both here, through Africa, and around the globe, as a leader who lacked the morality and honour to do your job correctly.”

As I sat glued to the TV last night watching the telenovela-esque events in northern KZN unfold, I found myself surprisingly conflicted. As I drained the last of my now-banned stockpile, I was so sure that I would rejoice in your arrest, celebrating your demise like so many WhatsApp memes and Twitter threads have for years. But no. I felt no thirst for vengeance, no contentment whatsoever – and I was utterly sure that I would.

In the five or so hours running up to your hurried departure from Nkandla, I caught myself reflecting on the tumultuous journey that we’ve taken together so far.

I was watching in 2007 as the Polokwane Conference re-shaped the ANC. I was watching in 2009 as the helicopters flew overhead in Tshwane, on towards the Union Buildings and your inauguration. I was watching when the cameras zoomed in on your panicked, ashen-faced reaction to Cyril’s victory in 2017 in Nasrec.

I was watching when you begrudgingly stepped down on Valentine’s Day 2018, now over three years ago. And I was watching last night when you departed your rural palace, headed towards justice at last.

But lo and behold, I was not dancing in my unheated, chilly home. I was not smiling, gleefully rubbing my hands together and chuckling back at you, as you have chuckled at us for over a decade. I reflected on the sombreness of it all, the dark culmination of so many years of galling delays, abuses of the judicial process and unfounded accusations of bias at those brave enough to take you on.

Zuma stole hope from us

I remember the moniker “Mr Teflon” bestowed upon you during the Mbeki era. I had to look the word up to understand what the media was talking about. They couldn’t have been more right. But even like the best frying pans, things will eventually stick after a while, it’s unavoidable, and I don’t think you realise this yet.

Mr Zuma. You stole from me. You stole from all of us. No, I’m not talking about money or personal wealth. I’m talking about hope. I’m talking about the countless opportunities to make a better life for my family that never came to pass because you and your filthy cronies were simply too greedy to keep the plundering to a minimum.

At the very least, you could have stopped at the Arms Deal, but no. You and your “partners” shamelessly stripped our country to the bone, convinced of your invincibility and so sure of the support you still think you do, but no longer have.

Look around, Mr Zuma. Where is Ace? Where is Tony Yengeni? Where is your ex-wife? Where is Supra and the rest of the RET crew? Where are the millions of people who once thronged the streets just to hear you speak? They’re gone, sir, given up on your Sisyphean cause because they have finally seen through your lies, around your impenetrable charisma and behind that trademark chuckle. They now know that you stole from them too.

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