NEWS & ANALYSIS

David Mabuza: Human rights bot

Andrew Donaldson writes on the former Mpumalanga Premier's new role as leader of SA's moral rejuvenation

A FAMOUS GROUSE

IT’S not often that we get a chance to come over all French here at the Mahogany Ridge, but it seems there’s a contretemps in Paris over the approval of the country’s first sex doll brothel.

Yes, vive le difference and all that, but communist and other ultra-left Parisian councillors have introduced a motion denouncing XDolls, which opened shop in the city’s upscale 14th arrondissement, as an insult to women. 

What’s more, according to The Times of London, they claim the brothel, which charges the equivalent of about R1 300 an hour, contravenes legislation outlawing prostitution and they want the place shut down.

Deputy mayor Bruno Julliard, a socialist, has however dismissed the motion as a waste of time. Police had inspected the brothel, he said. “They checked to see if it caused public disorder and on the face of it, that is not the case. Everything is in order. There are no complaints from neighbours yet.”

XDolls owner Joaquin Lousquy was quoted as saying, “The police officer was very nice. He looked at everything.”

We bet he did. But we can’t help wondering whether the experience offered by Lousquy might leave punters feeling shortchanged and there could well be complaints with the trade descriptions department.

Is it possible, for example, that a glorified mannequin could throw its back into the work and perform the requisite exaggerated moaning as it feigns la petite mort? What of the fevered whispers of “vous beau diable” and “mon petit chou” and other sweet nothings? The weary sighing that came with post-coital tristesse?

The more tech-savvy among the Ridge regulars suggest that it is entirely possible to programme these “sex-bots”, as the Elon Musks among us refer to them, to do all this and more. But such lip service will, of course, be especially mechanical and devoid of sincerity.

Much like, and more to the point, our new deputy president, David Mabuza, preaching to us about moral regeneration on Human Rights Day.

True, there came all the right noises as the dark overlord addressed a rally in Sharpeville, Vereeniging, on Wednesday. There was prattle of ethical conduct; that leaders become public servants once more, serving at all levels of government.

“Our state,” Mabuza said, “must be led by men and women of high moral rectitude, and dedication; people who have made it their mission to selflessly serve and improve the lives of ordinary South Africans; people who have nothing else but the interest of our nation at heart.”

But it was rather brazen that Mabuza should declare that, even as we celebrated our human rights, “we have many questions to answer to in our quest for renewal and unity”.

Frankly, it is Mabuza who alone has a great many questions to answer — chiefly about his journey from the badlands of Mpumalanga, where he was premier, to the Union Buildings via the controversial horse trading at the ANC elective conference in December where he delivered the party’s leadership to a severely compromised Cyril Ramaphosa.

It is a trail of the dead, as the DA whip John Steenhuisen charged, when he questioned Mabuza in the National Assembly on Tuesday about the spate of “morally repugnant” political assassinations in the province. 

The murdered, Steenhuisen said, included Mombela municipality speaker Jimmy Mohlala, who lifted the lid on massive tender corruption surrounding the construction of a 2010 Fifa World Cup stadium, and former ANC Youth League provincial secretary James Nkambule, who was allegedly poisoned after claiming that Mabuza was behind the spate of political assassinations in the province.

Steenhuisen was careful not to explicitly link Mabuza with these murders. Still, his questions did not sit well with the Deputy President and if looks could spit, well, Steenhuisen would still be surfing. 

The inference nevertheless remained that, whatever their moral rectitude, there was no place for whistleblowers in Mabuza’s style of “ethical” politics. 

There are many other questions that Mabuza could possibly answer. Among other things, these relate to his alleged poisoning by his enemies in 2015, when he was forced to take two months’ leave, and the alleged disappearance of R14-million in cash following a burglary at his farm house in December 2009.

The latter is particularly odd. At the time, it was claimed that Mabuza only reported R4-million missing as R14-million was too much and “would have raised eyebrows”. When Mpumalanga’s organised crime unit investigated the matter, they concluded that a mere R1 200 was taken — thus relegating the incident to one of petty theft which conveniently went nowhere pretty sharpish.

It is probable that, with time, we may get some answers. How much of a liability Mabuza will be in the interim remains to be seen.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.