NEWS & ANALYSIS

The Zuptas' Great Gloat

Andrew Donaldson writes on the celebrations following the defeat of the motion of no-confidence

FAMOUS GROUSE

THE display of triumphalism following the defeat of the motion of no confidence in the father of Edward and Duduzane, as Accused Number One is now known, was not unexpected, and yes, typical of such occasions, it was characteristically crude and vulgar. 

What did surprise, though, was that this time round it all seemed so much more unhinged and surreal than ever before. Certainly it was far more entertaining than the two hours of lowbrow “debate” we had just endured.

The celebrations started with a shower of phlegm from Fikile Mbalula, the small but shouty Minister of Police. Addressing the faithful outside the National Assembly, he roared away with the customary threat about the ANC staying in power forever more and so on. 

So far, so humdrum. Then came the dumb-dumb: “They want to come at us with camouflages!”

What was Mbalula on about? Who exactly were these devils in disguise? The DA? The EFF? The ANC MPs who did not vote to keep their jobs and their million rand a year pay cheques?

Here at the Mahogany Ridge, the only notable we could see in camouflage was Carl Niehaus, the famous liar and alleged military veteran. He was standing immediately behind Mbalula, and looked very much like one of those oafish Boeremag types at Eugene Terre Blanche’s AWB meetings back in the 1980s. 

Had there been a cigar jammed in his whiskered maw, Niehaus the Numpty could well have been mistaken for an early Cold War cartoon of a tubby Fidel Castro.

Admittedly, he does have a unique way with a military uniform. Because his take on reality is so altered, so otherwise, Niehaus is that rare man of action who believes a web belt should be fastened above the navel. Even ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe knows that the full heft of a boep is best hung over a straining belt.

Which brings us, sadly, to the Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini. Lost in the throes of a toyi-toyi, she managed to pull off a half-way decent impersonation of a bouncing castle full of preschoolers on a sugar rush. Social grant recipients would surely rest more easily at night if she went about her job with a fraction of the enthusiasm on display here.

Then came the man himself, who muttered some nonsense about taking money when people want to give it away before slipping into some shuffling song and dance throwback to those fabled nights in the bush around the campfire so many years ago. Then he was off, no doubt to plan and plot a terrible revenge against those ANC MPs who had defied the party and supported the motion of no confidence.

The commentariat remains divided about Tuesday’s events. Some analysts suggest that the outcome of the secret ballot was a win-win situation for the opposition; the ruling party was clearly divided, and the cracks in its foundation were widening. 

Public law professor Richard Calland even described the vote as a “watershed” for the party; the first time in eight motions of no confidence in Jacob Zuma that the ANC had not stood united behind their president.

By backing an openly corrupt president, the ruling party had committed itself to defeat at the polls in 2019. If, as Julius Malema suggested, quoting an African proverb, an elephant was best eaten “bit by bit”, then Dumbo was self-basting itself and now limping about on three legs.

But other commentators felt the ANC’s victory may not have been as Pyrrhic as some have suggested. Gwen Ngwenya, of the Institute of Race Relations, has dismissed the narrative that Zuma is weakened and the ANC divided as fanciful. That 80% of the party’s parliamentary caucus back the president, she claims, is a resounding vote of support.

There are reports that a witch hunt could be on the cards, as ANC heavyweights are threatening, to punish “treasonous” MPs. As one regional chairman put it, “This behavior and tendency should be stopped. You cannot have members colluding with our enemy. This was a wake-up call and structures of the movement need to deal with these tendencies.”

The great fear is that the party already knows who those MPs are — and probably knew even before voting on the motion of no confidence began. Which says something about secret ballots.

Remarkably, and quoting “ANC sources”, ANN7, the Saxonwold Shebeen’s infotainment channel, was able to report, before voting began, that at least 35 ruling party MPs would be breaking ranks by not opposing the motion. 

And how right they were. Twenty-six voted in favour, and nine abstained. Now, if only we were betting people…

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.