Those unoccupied chairs were, in a blatant fashion, booming the chilling message that the president of the republic has just being snubbed by his electorate. To the observant and critical eye, this was a classic case of the emperor parading naked in full glare of his subjects.
President Zuma was scheduled to address the launch of the 2017 version of the campaign against the violation of women and children on Saturday, 25 November. However, it was announced a few hours after the President was to appear that he wouldn’t make it to the event. He was apparently held up somewhere else.
The organisers must have been relieved that the President couldn’t make it in the end – how then would they explain the emptiness of the 3000 seater hall to the big boss?
I lamented this empty chair phenomenon in 2015 when the President was at the same venue for another public event. That event was delayed for hours because the people of Port Elizabeth simply didn’t pitch up. As a result, people were haphazardly bussed in to augment the poor attendance. The organisers falsely declared that the event was a success, although they were fully aware about the last gasp effort to ferry crowds to their event – many of whom who missed the President’s address anyway.
The warning I signalled at the time was completely ignored by those faithful to President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. However, the fact remains, Zuma is losing face and is largely ignored in some areas. The ANC must watch out. The trend of the people snubbing Zuma – and by extension his ANC – is growing. The emperor is parading naked.
My 2015 article follows:
As a South African citizen who has been watching on as the events surrounding the 2015 National Reconciliation Day unfolded, one could not help but be gripped with a deep sense of embarrassment and dread. On what was supposed to be a day of finding each other as a nation, a considerable proportion of South Africans were busy bickering all over cyber space, throwing racially laced insults at one another because of their differing views about the state of our nation. Some citizens, reported to be in their thousands, were marching through various cities of the country to demand for the removal of the head of state through the #ZumaMustFall campaign. Consequently, there was even more public mudslinging regarding the prudentness of that campaign.
As the war of words regarding the above raged on, the President of the republic, Jacob Zuma, was busy taking care of the official National Reconciliation Day proceedings in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In any thriving democracy, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) hall was supposed to be the logical place to be. This was rationally meant to be the converging point of all South Africans in order to show their support and demonstrate that indeed, South Africa was a united nation. At this particular gathering, the broader public was expected to come en masse and show the entire world that we were, in fact, able to rise above our societal multifariousness and function as a synergized unit.
This, however, was disappointingly not the case. It was actually quite bizarre to note the emptiness of most of the chairs in that modestly sized arena. As President Zuma went through his speech, one couldn’t help but sense that the country was not in perfect health at all. The empty chairs that Zuma were busy addressing were voicing that fact loud and clear. Those unoccupied chairs were, in a blatant fashion, booming the chilling message that the president of the republic has just being snubbed by his electorate. To the observant and critical eye, this was a classic case of the emperor parading naked in full glare of his subjects.
If anything could be deduced from the goings on of the 2015 Day of Reconciliation, the following must reign supreme:
- This national event was very poorly organised.
- President Jacob Zuma’s public image was crumbling alarmingly fast.
- South Africa was still a considerable way off the path to true national reconciliation.