President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS

So we stumble towards our vote of no confidence in the president, filled with righteous outrage at the large-scale theft of national assets by a leadership without moral compass. I am no apologist for Jacob Zuma, nor any politician who places their narrow self-interest ahead of the people they govern. What moral foundation was the basis of Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump’s wealth?

The answer to that question ought to alert us to the moral context we’ve created in our society. We are in awe — not moral outrage — at the transfer fee of more than R3bn paid by Paris Saint-Germain for footballer Neymar. Never mind a nearly R1bn signing-on fee to secure his "heart" and nearly R10m to take home every week, paid by Qatari masters more aware of the true location of Neymar’s heart. How much of that will find its way home to help the desperately poor in Brazilian favelas?

Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari owners, scrambling to account for the business sense attached to this deal, talk of "merchandising". Shirts bought by an adoring Parisian middle class, themselves outraged by the flood of Syrian refugees to their country, displaced by a conflict financed in part by Qatari dollars.

Where is the "merchandising" income to help alleviate a tragedy created by geopolitical and economic forces well beyond the pay grade of the average Syrian? How much money do the Qataris have? How is there poverty in the Middle East when there’s so much wealth?

And that’s the point. Wherever you look in the world, we have allowed the "capture" of assets to create an obscenely wealthy class, while around angry middle-class dining tables we feed our outrage at Zuma and, after acknowledging the lightness of our host’s soufflé, ridicule those less affluent who want help to fund a university education.

Ian JamesSomerset West

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