QUIRKY WORLD ... Zuma’s $16m ‘revamp’ a goldmine for comedians

SOUTH AFRICA: With their economy flatlining, currency on the ropes and politics in turmoil, many South Africans are turning to humor for relief, mainly at the expense of President Jacob Zuma and his $16m home improvements.

Within minutes of Zuma surviving Tuesday’s heated impeachment vote in parliament thanks to unanimous support from African National Congress (ANC) loyalists, the 73-year-old traditionalist Zulu was facing another roasting on the nation’s irreverent stand-up circuit.

“Jacob Zuma is the dude who just threw up all over the dance floor but still doesn’t want to go home,” comedian Lazola Gola quipped, to roars of laughter at an open mike event at Kitchener’s Bar, a 100-year-old watering hole built in the heyday of Johannesburg’s gold rush.

For comedians, Zuma is the gift that keeps on giving, a politician whose career has run the full gamut of scandal, from a love-child and corruption charges to foot-in-mouth insults of African countries and his belief, expressed during a 2006 rape trial, that having a shower can prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS.

No episode has surpassed the six-year imbroglio over the “security upgrades” to his sprawling Nkandla private residence that included an amphitheatre, swimming pool, cattle enclosure and chicken run.

Even though South Africa’s top court said last week he had broken the constitution by disobeying a watchdog’s order to pay back some money, Zuma has continuedto blame lawyers for giving bum advice and apologising for creating “confusion”.

Demonstrating political analysis as sharp as his wit, comedian Mojak Lehoko said Zuma’s ability to ride out the constitutional court smack-down was no surprise.

“This is a man who has survived more than 700 corruption charges and a rape case. There’s no way he’s going to jail over some home improvements,” he said.

Wildly happy

ENGLAND: People who do something “wild” every day for a month change their attitude to nature and report improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing, according to new research.

An impact study, by the University of Derby, of 30 Days Wild — the UK’s first ever month-long nature challenge, run by The Wildlife Trusts in June 2015 — revealed sustained increases in participants’ happiness, health, connection to nature and positive environmental behaviours, such as feeding the birds or growing flowers for pollinators like bees.

Dr Miles Richardson, head of psychology at the University of Derby, conducted the study. He said: “Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, the number of people reporting their health as excellent increased by 30%.

Cleaning wallets

ENGLAND: The average British child will receive more than £5,000 in pocket money over the course of their childhood for helping out with spring cleaning chores, research from cleaning brands Flash and Viakal revealed.

Generous parents are forking out £400 a year to each of their offspring for their help around the house, paying an average of £7.70 a week in pocket money.

This is a 54% increase from when they earned pocket money at their children’s age.

Bunny patrol

USA: Several large illuminated rabbits installed at San Francisco’s Civic Centre Plaza will have round-the-clock security until the exhibit comes down this month.

San Francisco television station KPIX reported that the giant inflatable bunnies are part of a public art installation. To prevent the kind of vandalism that hit the Super Bowl 50 artwork earlier this year, the bunnies will get 24-hour security until the exhibit ends on April 25.

The two-storey art piece by artist Amanda Parer and entitled Intrude, has toured much of the world.

Birds v cats

USA: Forget Sylvester and Tweety: A real-life battle is brewing on New York’s Jones Beach over the natural tension between cats and birds.

An American Bird Conservancy lawsuit claims the state is failing to adequately protect the endangered piping plover by allowing cat lovers to feed and care for a colony of feral felines on the barrier island where the birds nest. The federal suit wants the cats removed.

Advocates on both sides of the debate say the creatures are defenceless and could not survive without human help. Bird lovers say the fact that the cats are well-fed does not reduce their instinct to hunt.

Once bitten....

USA: A woman who was bitten by a tiger after she sneaked into a zoo in Nebraska has pleaded guilty to trespassing.

Jacqueline Eide admitted the offence in Omaha and was fined $250 plus court costs. Prosecutors dropped two other misdemeanour charges in return for her plea. The 33-year-old was accused of sneaking into Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo following a social function there on Halloween last year. Authorities said Eide was bitten by a Malayan tiger named Mai when she reached into the tiger’s exhibit. She was treated for a hand wound in hospital.


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