Something of buyer’s remorse has been eating up South Africa for a while. Quite a number of people, including ANC supporters, have soured on the president they elected (in 2009) and re-elected (in 2014).
The economy is shaky. Jobs are scarce. Corruption and crime are up there.
Even then president Jacob Zuma survived his sixth vote of no confidence on Tuesday. It was, however, remarkable that at least 25 ruling party MPs for the first time voted for his ouster.
The man has become toxic for his party and his country. But, you wonder, what did those who voted him expect? That he would certainly become an angel once seated behind the big desk?
Involvement in corruption
President Thabo Mbeki knew something, yet South Africans ignored him. He fired Mr Zuma as his deputy in 2005 for reported involvement in corruption and fraud in a weapons purchase transaction. Today, Mr President faces more than 780 counts over the deal. He denies the charges. No matter. There is lots else besides that is unsavoury that surrounds the leader of South Africa.
Elections, as the Americans say, have consequences. I have read that some of president Donald Trump’s voters are beginning to suffer buyer’s remorse. They seem to be learning that they got way more than they haggled for. Mr Trump apparently has decided to remain Mr Trump, and not in a good way.
The day the South African MPs were attempting yet again to throw out their morally compromised president is the same day the Kenyans were voting in a general election.
It has been sad drama since the voting ended. Just when you thought Kenyans would ace it and help provide a compelling example for Ugandan political activists and reformists to lurch on to, our eastern neighbours drop the ball.
Recriminations and wild allegations are flying all over. Someone needs to start a business in many African countries that counsels electoral candidates that one cannot enter a contest expecting only one result: victory.
Unless, of course, the candidate is Mr Paul Kagame. (There is something impressively eerie when a man wins a presidential election with more than 98 per cent of the vote). Or Yoweri Museveni, to a large extent.
Following closely the politics in many of our countries can rob one of sanity. Better to find distraction in far off lands. So, off to Germany.
The Reuters news agency could not help itself. It carried a little story the other day of a Munich resident who took to water to make a point.
“Fed-up with the grind of taking a bus or bike to work every day on congested streets in Munich, Benjamin David started swimming there instead,” Reuters reported.
“The burly beer garden worker now packs his laptop and clothes into a waterproof bag which he puts on his back, dons his wetsuit and slides into the River Isar for his journey.”
“It is beautifully refreshing and also the fastest way.”
One is tempted to do the same in Kampala. Just swim up and down the Nakivubo Channel to work and back. Faster and safer than jostling through the chaos of potholes, dust, undisciplined drivers and riders and insistent vendors.
This mess persists yet every so often we elect leaders. We elect people who are careerist and incompetent. The key interest is to fatten their wallets not solve “real-people problems” like making Kampala work for us all.
Would be a commendable idea if Ugandans became the first people to refuse to show up to vote. Let the politicians vote themselves in 2021. It makes no difference in our lives whether we turn out or not. The national chaos simply multiplies, world without end.
Mr Tabaire is the co-founder and director of programmes at African Centre for Media Excellence in Kampala. firstname.lastname@example.org