The arcane art of astrology is not for the novice; or at least, not for the novice with no access to Google.
To the uninitiated, Jacob Zuma and Pravin Gordhan -- both celebrating their birthdays today, although it's unlikely they're sharing a Chico the Clown ice cream at Spur -- are simply typical Aries: spontaneous, courageous, energetic, enterprising, incisive and daring, but also impatient, impetuous, proud and egotistical. Two rams in the same profession are always going to butt heads.
As the first sign in the zodiac, the Aries personality is famously childlike: on the one hand hopeful and eternally optimistic ("We can avoid junk status!"), on the other hand gullible and easily misled ("No, seriously: it's a fire pool!"). But to cast an accurate horoscope, one needs to know the time of birth to the second.
If we can't ascertain the exact time of delivery, we can still create a general chart based on the year of birth. How does President Zuma, born on 12 April 1942, stack up against Pravin Gordhan, born on 12 April 1949?
President Zuma: Born 12 April, 1942
The president is an Aries with the fire element dominant, which may explain his longing for a machine gun. This brings with it a healthy dose of passion, courage and self-confidence –- helpful when you need the balls to fire a finance minister who is keeping your fingers out of the till. But the fire element can also add a propensity for rash action and an unwillingness to retreat from mistakes –- as in, crashing the economy rather than admitting defeat.
Water is also a fairly significant element in this horoscope, which indicates a reliance on emotion rather than analysis when making key decisions –- when you're angry about court decisions, for example, it's harder to abide by them. In terms of modalities, the president's horoscope is highly mutable, meaning he is flexible and quick to react to new solicitations, although that no doubt depends on what the solicitors are offering.
On the subject of solicitation, the president has a high Yang polarity, indicating a character who prefers action to contemplation. His most dominant planet is also Venus; add these two influences together, and you have a perfect explanation for his charm and charisma, not to mention his passion for kangas and wife-collecting.
A dominant sun also helps explain his drive and leadership, although we can all see how manfully he struggles against the sun's negative characteristics: pride, arrogance, and a tendency towards excessive authority. Mars is his third dominant planet, adding a propensity for impatience with trivialities like oaths of office or the tender procedures for home renovation.
According to Chinese astrology, the president's birth date makes him a horse, and therefore an intensely moral person who unifies and brings cohesion.
So much for Chinese astrology...
Pravin Gordhan: Born 12 April, 1949
What a difference seven years can make! Although the former minister of finance is also an Aries, he has an even greater fire dominance, leavened by elements of earth and air. So his passion and enthusiasm are combined with excellent communication skills and rooted in practicality. These, of course, are only assets when dealing with a boss who listens and behaves rationally.
Gordhan's modality is heavily cardinal, meaning he takes on tasks and initiates projects with energy and passion, but he can also be too individualistic to be a good team player. As Team Zupta might put it: "No shit, Sherlock!"
It's also a modality that indicates a strict moral compass. This combined with the dominance of fire in his horoscope means he is unable to back down on a point of principle, even if the alternative is getting fired and having to eke out a living as a funeral orator.
Gordhan's Yang polarity is even stronger than Zuma's, so we can expect him to keep trying, no matter how many times he fails. In this regard, his horoscope lines up with the fervent prayers of Save SA et al.
His most dominant planets is Mars, whence comes his drive to move mountains, no matter what the risk. But Saturn is his second-most dominant planet, which promises fatherly wisdom and strict discipline when required: he's kind of a cross between Papa Smurf and Julian Grey.
Pluto, Gordhan's third dominant planet, signifies a deep well of resourcefulness and the ability to rebuild, even if it first requires destroying what is outdated. Sorry, this horoscope appears to have been hijacked by Julius Malema.
According to Chinese astrology, Gordhan's birth date makes him an Ox. We can therefore expect him to be reflective, devoted to sound moral principles, unflappable in a crisis and stubborn in the face of irrational behaviour. Although eternally patient, when roused to anger he can be extremely dangerous.
Okay, maybe Chinese astrology does have something to teach us...
Alyn Adams is a freelance writer and comic based in Johannesburg.