Heady Aches

Heady Aches

Excited about the increasing depth of the Trump criminal investigations?

Don’t put too much faith in the law. A good portion, but not too much. And while you’re at it take a quick look at what’s happening with Africa’s Trump, more than four years after he slid from power.

In the rare times that government and the rich and powerful choose to fight each other, the resources each command are so enormous that the fight drags on for years often until it flames out.

When the BBC asked its senior Washington correspondent, Will Grant, to characterize the newly combined and now criminal charges into Trump, Grant replied wimp-like, “He now almost certainly cannot avoid” facing them.

That’s a long way from serving time.

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma is absolutely Africa’s Donald Trump. Read my many earlier blogs then fast forward to next week when finally, four years after Zuma was ousted as the country’s chief executive, one of his multiple scheduled trials might begin… again.

“Again” is the link to a YouTube video almost two hours long. It was the “last time” that Zuma’s trial was finally expected to begin, May 17. It was postponed mainly because Zuma didn’t show.

This was about the least creative delay he’s tried yet it worked. There have been numerous creative ways Zuma avoids trial, including getting sick, firing and rehiring lawyers. Many of these are tried and true weapons in the Trump arsenal.

South African Lucas Ntyintyane says, “Donald Trump [is] a Jacob Zuma-style headache: a former president who lives in his own delusions…Zuma and his surrogates tell everyone who cares to listen that he is a victim.

“Like Zuma Trump is a Lernaean hydra that refuses to die politically. He has no respect for the institutions of democracy. In a climate of toxic politics characterised by fear, mistrust and polarisation, his tweets sow mass hysteria and delegitimise the elections. His huge ego blinds him to the damage this is doing to the US people.”

The parallels between Trump and Zuma are so striking because the two figures are so alike. They are both poorly educated, narcissistic monsters who by their very karma attract huge sections of disenchanted voters.

Another South African, Dawie Jacobs explains, “Both relied on a narrow, mainly rural base; both served their own interests; both were divisive influences… Both ignore the supremacy of the constitution, both have undermined the rule of law, both are fighting to stay out of jail, and both undermine their successors through the divisions they sow. Both presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Joe Biden have to govern and unite their nations while their successors actively undermine the rule of law from Nkandla and Mar-a-Lago.”

In both cases they represent the fuse that blew the patience for political promises that never materialized. In Zuma’s case as head of the ANC party that defeated apartheid, the litany of promises that should never have been made that were never met is huge:

Free housing, equitable pay with whites and coloreds, and equitable if not actually equivalent educational opportunities are probably the leading ones. The non-white voters who ended apartheid really believed that these promises could be met in a few years.

In Trump’s case it was the American Dream propagated year after year by every politician of every political stripe at a time when globalization and climate change made the idea near impossible for most.

Neither are creative individuals and neither came to power wholly intentionally. They were moved to power by the growing anger of the electorate.

Both were removed from power … barely. Their removers believed they could be kept from returning to power by among other things bringing them to trial for all the illegal things they did or oversaw.

Not so easy. These are both rich and powerful men, goofs but heroes to the millions of downtrodden whose main inspirations in life are winning the lottery or emulating someone like themselves who really achieved wealth and power.

Zuma is three to four years ahead of Trump. He still commands enormous popularity. Policy is still impacted by his whims. His accountability remains delayed.

Perhaps until he comes to power, again.