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364 ‘Zuma Days’

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As South Africans, we are so accustomed to corruption, incompetence and greed that when someone actually does what is expected of them, it almost seems noble.

The mere fact that our government officials feel that these acts of generosity, for an hour each year, count as paying homage to the great man, is absolutely despicable, disrespectful and disgusting. Doing your job to show just how charitable you can be, is symptomatic of a very sick society. Picture:Supplied

Tuesday would have marked President Nelson Mandela’s 99th birthday and while our nation’s favourite son may no longer be walking among us, his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of many South Africans.

Madiba selflessly fought to ensure that all of us be treated with dignity and respect. His contribution is impossible to ignore and is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.

Considering what could have been, South Africa’s transition, from prejudicial prison to the epitome of equality, is nothing short of miraculous and few will argue that the man who was convicted of treason and jailed for the better part of three decades, yet went on to be our first democratically elected president, was the miracle maker.

Looking at where we have come from, where we find ourselves today and where we are heading, dedicating 67 minutes a year towards enriching the lives of the less fortunate, in the name of Nelson Mandela, is the very least we can do.

Sadly, looking at various government departments, along with many businesses and private individuals, selflessly honouring the great man’s legacy for an hour and seven minutes every 12 months seems a very tall order.

Firstly, when your primary mandate is putting a roof over the heads of the people, giving houses away for your 67 minutes cannot and should not be viewed as an act of kindness.

When you are responsible for providing young people with a bright future through education, dishing out school shoes, at taxpayers’ expense, is not charitable.

When you are tasked with creating jobs, strengthening the economy and improving the lives of the needy, feeding the disabled, elderly and impoverished, with other people’s money, is by no means a sign of compassion.

The mere fact that our government officials feel that these acts of “generosity”, for an hour each year, count as paying homage to the great man, is absolutely despicable, disrespectful and disgusting. Doing your job to show just how charitable you can be, is symptomatic of a very sick society. 

Truth be told, the positive impact of having one ‘Mandela Day’ a year gets completely lost among the 364 ‘Zuma Days’, anyway.

As South Africans, we are so accustomed to corruption, incompetence and greed that when someone actually does what is expected of them, it almost seems noble.

Worse still is that these acts of nobility are perfectly timed for when the cameras are rolling so that the world can see that our leaders care.

There is nothing selfless about keeping the promises that got you elected in the first place, especially when you view doing so as a publicity stunt.

We have all heard that it is better to give than to receive but this is easier said than done when you are preoccupied with looking good rather than doing good.

It seems that narcissism has many convinced that kindness comes at a cost and that there is nothing to gain from giving.

We already have a surplus of annual celebrations that have lost their significance and meaning. We will take the day off work and forget what we are celebrating. At best, these days to honour greatness have become hallmark holidays.

The spirit of Mandela may be alive in the hearts of many South Africans but ego and greed keep it imprisoned.

When doing it for Madiba means watching government officials spend our tax money to do their jobs for 67 minutes a year, it seems that all meaning has been lost far sooner than anyone could have imagined.