At the weekend, as I watched Jacob Zuma wishing Julius Malema a happy birthday and exhorting his protégé to help him wreck the lives of all South Africans “whether they like it or not”, it was hard not to think of the soap operas I used to vegetate in front of as a student.

Before you think this column is going to get very silly, I should quickly point out that there aren’t a lot of parallels between SA politics and, say, Days Of Our Lives. When I watched Days in the late 1990s (or “Dool”, as we aficionados called it) it was packed with satanic possession, mind control, alien siblings, island lairs, secret identical twins and a girl who lived in a swamp who was an opera singer...

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