I don’t have scientific evidence to back this up, but I’m beginning to feel like some market research out there shows South African magazine operators that putting a picture of Jacob Zuma on the cover of your magazine will sell more copies.

If not, could someone then please explain what he’s doing on the cover of this week’s Financial Mail flanked by the blaring headline, “How long can Zuma last?” Jeez. The man’s only had two weeks worth of his presidential rooibos tea and he’s already a lame duck?

Needless to say, I was both curious and, admittedly, skeptical as to what this could all mean. Were there secret rumblings of the party preparing to take him out a la Mbeki? Is he ill? Is Baleka Mbete so pissed that she didn’t get the deputy presidency that she’s now decided to upstage Msholozi in a fashion coup? It’s colorful dresses and headgear versus designer suits … my more outlandish instincts give the battle to Mbete, but, as court cases go so do more sartorial struggles. Zuma: siyanqoba!

Actually, it turns out that there are no rumors of anything. Merely writer Ken Owen surmising from far-off France about how the ANC’s internal deliberations in Luthuli House are opaque. The rest of the article and the accompanying features by other writers don’t deal with these non-existent rumors at all (maybe because they are, in fact, non-existent) and veer towards the FM’s forte. Exceptionally strong analysis of the problems facing policy makers, and policy proposals that tend towards a hard-line liberalism (in the economic sense) only slightly tempered by the generally left orientation of South Africa (when ruling party rallies are punctuated by renditions of, “My father was a garden boy, my mother was a kitchen girl, that’s why I’m a communist,” you know you’re not in Kansas anymore).

There’s been a bit of a talk of the lack of honeymoon for Zuma. Witness DA leader Helen Zille’s ridiculous attacks (followed by the ANC Youth League’s perhaps even more absurd retorts), and the hysterical naysaying by some financial commentators over the weekend on the Vodacom / ICASA / COSATU near-debacle. Still, this FM cover almost takes the cake. Especially given that the accompanying article doesn’t justify the cover’s implications at all.

In fact, this is a perfect example of why not to use question marks in headlines. Here are some examples. Is Barack Obama a Muslim? No. Is Julius Malema just Hendrik Verwoerd back from the dead? Uh … no. How long will it take for Schabir Shaik to die? How long can Zuma last? I wouldn’t be surprised if the former’s death were not so imminent, and I also have no doubt that South Africa’s comeback kid will be sipping his pleasantly bitter presidential tea much longer than this kind of premature naysaying might imply.

Alright, I’m off the crazy train like Baleka Mbete on a bus in Soweto. Doesn’t make much sense except I did somehow end up following the deputy president as she rode a double-decker bus through primarily big shopping malls in the historic township. Here’s a video piece I produced today about the bus tour.

To complete this round-up of recent work, I have a an article and video about my time spent with the three main political parties here as volunteers went door-to-door campaigning in Johannesburg area townships. Below are full-size versions of the pictures that I took now up on The Times website.

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