Open letters, even songs, have been written for President Jacob Zuma, as South Africans become increasingly desperate for a leader who will step down or step up and lead. Here now is an inspired poem by award-winning poet Athol Williams, who recently became the first person ever to win the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award twice!

The Daily Zumpie - by Viv Vermaak
Image from The Daily Zumpie – by Viv Vermaak

short lines… by Athol Williams

these lines are short
so that the president
can follow. does he
follow … any logic,
any law or moral code?
could you please code
these lines for him
in whatever form he
gets: grunts, gawks,
gold coins like apples
fed to an ass for
carrying a load. whose
load is the president
carrying? shooting his
load, shooting at us
with his loaded guns.
our lives are loaded with
despair that you can erase
mr president, as easily as
clearing the charges against
your fanged friends, our
blood dripping from their
bank accounts. it is time
for you to account to us
who look to you for better
lives. lives. lives worth
living. look in the mirror
mr president, see the man
who we see, our only sad
hope. we can hope you
act like a president should,
for us, your people.
lay a foundation
upon which we can
build, sow seeds that
we can harvest, sing
a song whose lines
we can proudly echo,
short lines, as these,
short, like our prospects.
we hope you follow
our plea, mr president,
packed into these short
lines, short election lines,
election lines, short lines.
– Athol Williams

To read more of Athol Williams’ brilliant work, please visit his website: