The success of MacBeki has inspired yet another PDU assault on the legacy of the
greatest English dramatist in history. William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor
is not gifted with as obvious a guide track to local political farce as Macbeth was.
There the eternal struggle of power versus leadership, of lust versus love, of good
versus interesting lent itself well to the drama being played out on our political
road to the ANC 2007 Congress in Polokwane. That lead to the in-house coup that said
a loud ‘Ta Ta’ to Thabo and the exit of President Mbeki.
The universal enjoyment of MacBeki at the Market Theatre from a rainbow South African
audience of all ages and political persuasions made a theatre piece inspired by the
many wives of President Jacob Zuma inevitable. But not easy. The Merry Wives of Windsor
is a comedy of bad manners including love and marriage, jealousy and revenge, social
class and wealth, explored with irony, sexual innuendo, sarcasm and stereotypical
views of classes and nationalities.
The text of The Merry Wives of Zuma, not just a local version of the Shakespeare
opus, is grounded in what could be seen as a comedy of bad moves. It was conceived
and structured on the long winding road to Mangaung – the December 2012 ANC Congress
where, as in Polokwane, the next leader of the ANC is elected. If Jacob Zuma wins
a second term and stays the country’s president till 2014, this play will also win
a new breath of topicality till that general election. If not, the story can still
stand on its feet, as it is not essentially about Jacob Zuma and his four wives.
It is about a town in South Africa like so many towns, adjusting to a new name and
local government of the people by the people, but not necessarily for the people.
The mayor and his town council manipulate the ups and downs of municipal corruptions
and eruptions. There is the intrigue of lust and love, the chess game of marriage
and morality, of greedy fads and garish fashions. A rainbow of vibrant emotions,
which is also a comedy about serious issues: freedom, opinion, commitment, transparency
and truth, all bundled together as political pantomime.