Not a nice one, Cyril

Jeremy Gordin on the awkward email in Dali Mpofu's hot little hands (and Fikile Mbalula's impressive grovel)

Not a Nice One, Cyril

All my working life (and that's 36 years now) I have gotten into trouble for writing emails - in the olden, olden days, before the Rinderpest, it was typed memos - saying what a tosser someone or other was. At Independent Newspapers, I think it was the chief operations officer who was my main target. At CNA-Gallo, it was probably the chairman of the board.

Thing is: if you want to hang on in a company and collect your annual increase and, finally, your pension, you can't do that sort of thing. In fact your best bet is to kiss ass generously and zip your lip. Fly below the radar, don't smoke in the no-smoke zones, and don't leer at anyone's cleavage, male or female. Don't mention fuzzies, darkies, curry-munchers, honkies, goyim, yidlach, Red Sea pedestrians, chicks in comfortable shoes, vershtunkende feminists or faggots.

Above all, as I have said, commit nothing, not even love (especially not love - or lust), to paper or virtual paper.

Check what's happened to one of our heroes of the struggle, Cyril Ramaphosa. The hero of our glorious and miraculous transition - the man, some say, whom Madiba wanted to be his successor - has just been hoist not by his own petard but by an e-mail.

Yesterday, at the Marikana commission of inquiry, that sweet man Advocate Dali Mpofu, the man paid (a huge amount) to go away from the SABC, and who used to go kissy-kissy with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (well, stand in line, brother) - yes, this Mpofu, representing the miners injured and arrested after the shooting on August 16, pointed out that there existed - in his hot little hand - an e-mail in which Ramaphosa strongly condemned the protests, describing them as criminal acts and suggesting "concomitant action".

Said the learned Mpofu (according to SAPA): "This [e-mail] was on 15 August at 14:58, exactly 24 hours before the people were mowed down on that mountain. We have e-mails that were being exchanged between Lonmin management, government ministers [of mineral resources and the police] and at the centre is a gentleman called Cyril Ramaphosa.

"He advanced [sic] that what was taking place were criminal acts and must be characterised as such. In line with this characterisation, [Ramaphosa said] there needs to be concomitant action to address the situation," said Mpofu.

Vus is dus "concomitant action"? Well, I guess that what Cyril was saying was that if the miners were going around killing the odd security guard, NUM official, and policeman, which they were, well then, something had to be done.

Mpofu said further that the aforementioned e-mail was addressed to a certain "dear Albert of Lonmin".

So who's Albert when he's at home and even when he's not? Not Albert Schweitzer, I would hazard, not even Albert Schwartze. I would guess that it's "Mr. Albert Jamieson, Chief Commercial Officer of Lonmin Plc, who joined Lonmin in 1989 after eight years at Impala Platinum, where he was responsible for their concentrator operations." 

Mpofu, rising to the occasion, said that Ramaphosa "had called for action to deal with the criminals, whose crime was to seek a wage increase [my emphasis]".

"What happened was premeditated murder of defenceless people," said Mpofu. Then he really got into his stride: "He [Mpofu] said the cause of the Marikana tragedy was a ‘toxic collusion between the state and capital [my emphasis]. The main causes of the massacre are the SA Police Service [SAPS], other agencies of government, and Lonmin'."

Could not have said it better myself, Dali; nor, I think, could Blade Nzimande or Zwelinzima Vavi.

Mazal tov, Cyril; you have the foreman's job at last, as it were. So, how does it feel? To be like a Rolling Stone? Or, rather, to be a real capitalist?  Think you're going to get a nomination at Mangaung? Well, maybe you will.

Now then, besides being careful about your emails, you also have to watch what you say, especially if you suffer from what I call Middle Eastern Potentate's Big Mouth Syndrome (MEP-BuMS). Two people afflicted with MEP-BuMS were the late Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and the late Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. And that fellow who is unfortunately not late, Mahmoud I'm-a-dinner-jacket of Iran, he also seems to have it. But you don't have to be Islamic. I think Bibi Netanyahu of Israel also might have caught it.

The form the affliction takes is grandiloquent and militarily-based rhetorical exaggeration. For example, in about June 1967, Nasser said: "You know that bunch of annoying Israelis next door? Our tanks are gonna drive them into the sea, and we'll cut off their ears into the bargain just before we do so," and so on and so forth. And, though I can't remember specifics, I'm sure Brother Leader, Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu have voiced similar sentiments.

Okay, the oke who suffers from it locally is Seffrica's Sport and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, known to some as Bamba-loola. You might remember that a while back in New Zealand (a long way from the Middle East, but so it goes), Bamba-loola said: "We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the sandpits, and we will never surrender. This is total war and we are ready to fight."

Problem was that it was a rugby world cup, not a world war, and the New Zealanders, Australians and Welsh took the opportunity to prepare for rugby not war. The result? The ou ballies then comprising the Springbok rugby team never stood a chance.

But now, oy-va-voy-lanu, Bamba-loola, as the result, apparently, of having a petulant frenzy, has pulled the ultimate career-limiting move.

["This is a petulant frenzy / I'm petulant, and I'm having a frenzy" - Frank Zappa, Honey, don't you want a man like me?]

What happened, as far as I can tell, is that this perfidious representative of the fourth estate, one Piet "Pompies" Rampedi (of The Star), needled Bamba-loola. Seems as though Rampedi said to the minister, "Hey, the guys in the Zuma camp say you're a wimp and opportunist and you now want to leave the anti-Zuma Motlanthe camp because Kgalema's fading ..."

To which our Fikile apparently angrily replied that he'd rather be underpantless in Gaza than hang out with a politically bankrupt individual such as Jacob G Zuma, an individual who thrived on corruption, who owed him everything anyway (who delivered at Polokwane, hmm, tell me that, babaloo?), and who was building a mansion at Nkandla and got married every week ....

The last part was a bit of an exaggeration; everyone knows that JG Zuma only gets married every 14 weeks. Really.

I mean, you know, you could perhaps admire Bamba-loola if that's what he believes and if he genuinely wants Zuma dumped because Zuma has let the side down.

Wouldn't it be cool if Mbalula said: "Hey, screw you guys. Print what you want to print. You know what, I don't care about my fat salary, or my expensive home and Lance Armstrong bicycle, I just care about my immortal soul - and I don't give a damn about that conehead Zuma and his weekly marriages and overdrawn political account. Let him go back to his underground bunker in Remulak, KZN."

But of course this isn't what happened. No cojones, my brother, no cojones. A real wet, like the rest of the Yoof Leaguers....

Bamba-loola did a quick and impressive grovel, denying that he'd been nasty to the main man what counts. He also denied making such comments; they were all a figment of Piet Pompies' imagination. Ja-nee, we'll believe the denial when Bamba-loola sues The Star and not before.

Remember back in 2001 (was it?) when the late Steve Tshwete ("sweaty Steve"), then police minister, announced that Zuma and Mathews Phosa and I forget who else (Ramaphosa!?) were involved in a coup plot against Thabo Mbeki? Bizarre stuff, wasn't it?

Zuma had to grovel publicly, promising he had no lust whatsoever for the main job. Plus ça change, my babes, plus ça change...

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter