Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS

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FM Edition:

Why are South Africans so gloomy? This is the best country in the world! Just last week the president of our fine republic, Jacob Zuma, sat in parliament and got a proper roasting from the opposition benches. And he could do nothing about it but make whining noises.

EFF leader Julius Malema pointed at Zuma and said members of his party were not prepared to listen to "this criminal".

"We will leave because we are not prepared to listen to this criminal. We will come back when the criminal is gone‚" Malema said. Accompanied by his merry men and women in red, he promptly walked out.

Just a few minutes before, Cope MP Willie Madisha had also weighed in, saying parliament should not "legitimise" someone who had broken his oath of office by allowing him to speak. He had also led his party out of the chamber. At this rate they will need new carpeting in the national assembly.

Anyway, Zuma could do sweet nothing about it. After the walk-outs he turned to national assembly speaker Baleka Mbete and begged to be treated like the leader of a tin-pot dictatorship.

"Each time I come here I am abused," Zuma moaned. "Instead of answering questions‚ I am called a criminal ... a thief. This house has to do something." He said if parliament was not interested in having him answer MPs’ questions, then "don’t call me".

What?! Maybe we should start by reminding the president that it wasn’t MPs but the constitutional court that said he had failed to uphold his oath of office. Maybe if he had done his job there would be no reason to remind him all the time that he is dodging 783 counts of corruption, fraud and racketeering. And he built himself that monstrosity in Nkandla for R246m. And he wants a new private jet.

Anyway, the point I am making is that we are extremely lucky. We live in an open democracy. The president was called a criminal and he had to sit there and take it.

And don’t take his whining that parliament must "not call him" seriously. He knows, and we know, that if he doesn’t pitch up for his hiding every quarter he will be found in contempt of the institution and may well be impeached. He has to abide by the rules. Isn’t that great? What a democracy.

It almost makes me as happy as Zuma himself to realise that we live in such a fabulous democracy. Long may it last, I say. I mean, if Zuma is going to be paying his loan to VBS Mutual Bank (the guys who have come through with the R7.8m he needs for the undue benefits he received on Nkandla) over 20 years, it means he intends to be around for years. We need a strong democracy against that.

Anyway, just the other day my friend Winston Skosana called me up and said he was sitting in a lovely place and would I join him for lunch. It was a gorgeous spring day: hot, sunny and made for a long and liquid one. I cringed when he told me where he was. The name is naff. Eatalian? Really?

Anyway, when I got out of my car there were a few beautiful people in sunglasses sitting at the pavement tables with glasses of white wine or cold beer in front of them. You felt happy just looking at them. They know how to enjoy a great day in a great country, I thought.

I had the spaghetti vongole and Winston had a creamy farfalle with salmon. The food was excellent — I couldn’t get enough of that vongole. Even in Campania, they don’t make it better. I washed mine down with a local sauvignon blanc. Winston kept his powder dry (he had to work).

What a great lunch. What a great country. I went home and wrote a column insulting the president. Because I can.

***½ The Eatalian
126 11th Street
Tel: (011) 326 8786


***** Thuli Madonsela
**** Excellent
*** Good
** Poor
* Jacob Zuma