THE BIG READ: You can't charm me, JZ
Declaration. I love children. I also like animals, believe it or not. I have donated to the Unite Against Poaching Trust. And I once had a pet dog named Apartheid and my brother's was called Dompas. I use this justification for the same reason you qualify not being racist by the number of "black friends" you've collected.
That said, my affections are well-timed and well-placed.
However, when the two (children and animals) were in the same sentence this week ("Little girl's plea over rhinos prompts president to reply", yesterday), it stirred an ambivalence in me.
President Jacob Zuma responded to seven-year-old Afeefah Patel's letter within hours of its publication on Monday.
In Zuma-like handwriting, the girl had asked the president, through The Times editor, "to please look after our rhinos".
I do not doubt Zuma's heart-warming old-school charm, or his love for children. If this had been videoed in the US, Patel would probably also be dubbed "Obama little girl" and might have been a YouTube sensation by now.
It could have worked. But this is not America, Mr President; we have bread-and-butter issues to deal with.
To repeat, I've no problem with animals, especially abused dogs and endangered rhinos, nor with children. But when a dog takes front seat in a bakkie ahead of a farmworker, I take issue.
When I wake up to a radio breakfast show and all I want is a hard-news fix of what happened in the world during the night, I have issue with trivial sound bites about children. When I connect with you on social media for professional networking, I have issue with you bombarding me with snaps of your rascals.
The president's latest PR stunt is in bad taste.
In his response to Patel, Zuma said Operation Rhino had brought together "the police [the SA Police Service's organised crime unit] and our soldiers [SA National Defence Force], the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority, all working together to protect our beloved rhinos. They are as concerned as you [are] to bring the perpetrators to book."
Impressive measures, but not when the safety of rhinos is prioritised ahead of that of miners. I am not charmed, Mr President. I can't be. To borrow from Cosatu's Zwelinzina Vavi: "My belt is on my skeleton."
As The Times's reporter Amukelani Chauke wrote on Facebook recently: "171 rhinos killed, government introduces rhino laws. More miners die in unsafe mines, nothing is done but talk shops dubbed mining indabas. It is official: animals are more NB than humans."
Politicians are being sidelined over the nationalisation debate. And there is talk of this debate threatening foreign investors. Yet investors come to these shores to hunt rhinos, and nothing is said other than that the "government will regulate the hunting [killing] of rhinos".
Miners are losing their lives and families while Aurora proprietor and Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma dances on at the birthday parties of his uncle and aunts.
Zuma is no longer a man of the people as he adopts "the look but don't touch approach". The presidential hotline has bombed and other communication channels for "the people" to reach their president are just a farce. Even the ANC Youth League has to go through the media to communicate with the party's president.
It has been 40 days (and 40 nights) since Zuma (@SAPresident) tweeted, while the concerns of citizens on this platform are piling up. There isn't even an acknowledgement of this. In fact, I get more joy from Rwandan President Paul Kagame than from my own president.
When I asked Kagame this week, (@PaulKagame are you invited?) after news of "President Zuma to marry again", he promptly replied: "Possibly not . I am just hearing [the news] from you."
"Don't despair," I tweeted back.
The miners, too, should not despair. The president is aware of their letters to the editor, their tweets and calls to talk shows.
PS: Congratulations, Mr President, on your coming nuptials.
Mothapo is a marketing and communications practitioner. Follow him on twitter @SocietyNews