A GNU or a MOO?

Andrew Donaldson on the constellation of crazies challenging the results, and mobilising against an ANC-DA deal


CALL it deja voodoo, but it all seems so strangely familiar, this murmuring of alliances and talk of talks about talks. History, of course, does not repeat itself, but we’re definitely there again, what with the horse-trading and frantic negotiations as the ANC kisses goodbye to three decades of political dominance.. 

There is uncertainty, just as there was back in the early 1990s. The drums are beating, there is a threat of anarchy and violence. Public order police have been placed on high alert, and extra cops are on duty throughout KwaZulu-Natal. Once again, the government of the day faces a stark choice: pragmatism and co-operation or chaos and turmoil.___STEADY_PAYWALL___

It’s no exaggeration that the latter course is uppermost on Jacob Zuma’s agenda. Convict Number One is full of fury and has been channelling his inner Trump to the point the conspiracist twaddle is peaking in the red. Monday’s bullshit about rigged elections outside the High Court in Johannesburg was, for example, just another rambling tirade in a long string of such outbursts.

He’d been there, at the electoral court, for expelled MKP founder Jabulani Khumalo’s application to be reinstated as party leader. Khumalo claims that Duduzile “Lady Haw Haw” Zuma-Sambudla had forged his signature on a letter in which he purportedly ceded leadership to her father. Judgment in the matter has been reserved. 

Zuma had fallen asleep during the proceedings but was however less than reserved when, refreshed from the nap, he told his supporters that the MK Party had won the national elections outright. “We campaigned thoroughly,” News24 quoted uBaba as saying. “South Africans believed in us.” 

Except most South Africans didn’t. The MKP had boasted it would crack a whopping two-thirds majority at the polls. This, we were told, would allow the party to rip up the Constitution, expropriate land without compensation, nationalise the banks, eviscerate the judiciary and send pregnant schoolgirls to Robben Island. And a bunch of other stuff besides. 

As populist manifestos went, the MKP’s was much like the EFF’s, but with added sangoma mumbo-jumbo. Witness, for example, the video of the Blesser himself being blessed with smouldering African sage, or imphepho, that circulated on social media. I haven’t seen that much herb going up in smoke since the reggae parties of my student days. 

Still, the ancestors have been a bit kind, and the MKP should be comforted by the fact that they polled almost 15 per cent of the vote. This, in the scheme of things, was an impressive showing, especially for a party launched just last year. There are still masses out there prepared to support the corrupt and the inept along ethnic and tribal lines.

The Democratic Alliance, meanwhile, came in with almost 22 per cent, a level of support which appears to have baffled Zuma:

“Where does the DA get so many votes? Where does the ANC get these votes because we have joined the MKP in numbers? We appealed [against the results] before the results were officially announced. Upon hearing our complaint, the [Electoral Commission] rushed to announce the results. I wanted to tell them not to make the mistakes before they fix the mistake we showed them. They are provoking us. We haven't left this matter alone. We are going to walk slowly with them. We are the smartest in South Africa ... we won't back down.”

This garbled nonsense is typical of the electoral fraud narrative. The tacit threat of violent reprisal is, of course, an ominous nod to the July 2021 riots. As Zuma put it on Monday: 

“We don't want people to die. We want to show [the IEC] that we are South Africans. We will correct them ... We are number one. We produced big votes. We are silently working on this matter. We have won these elections. We want to rule this country how we want.”

Alas, democracy doesn’t work that way. This is something that Cyril Ramaphosa now understands all too clearly. He has been taught a harsh lesson, but he nevertheless managed to put on a brave face when he addressed the nation on Sunday:

“Whether we like it or not,” Squirrel said, “our people have spoken. The people of South Africa expect their leaders to work together to meet their needs. This is a time for all of us to put South Africa first.”

A bit late in the day for that, you’d think. But, tiny violins aside, something may have now shifted for the better. Perhaps not in a tectonic manner, but there are grounds enough for some optimism. As that familiar adage about South African politics goes: just when it can’t get worse, it really does — but not without some slender chance of redemption, an opportunity to at least think about applying the brakes before plunging into some godawful abyss.

My glass, then, is perhaps half full rather than half empty. The way the cards have now fallen indicate that, in addition to a national coalition government, alliances must also be formed in KZN, Northern Cape and, crucially, Gauteng. To my mind, this strengthens the argument for devolution of power, and points to a more federalist form of government with provinces managing their own affairs.

KZN is practically there anyway — at least in spirit. The province, to all intents and purposes, is a whole other place, a hotbed of Zulu nationalism. Back in April, when the parties were on the stump, the leader of the little known Abantu Batho Congress, Philani Godfrey Mavundla, outlined his vision of independence from Pretoria. The Sunday Tribune quoted him as saying, “We want the land of KwaZulu out of South Africa and we are very clear on that because being part of South Africa is not working for Zulus.” 

Here at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”), we believe that it is the other way round, that is is the Zulus who are not working for South Africa. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 

Independence, Mavundla claimed, was entirely plausible. There are precedents; other southern African ethnic groups had their own independent states, such as Botswana, Lesotho and eSwatini. 

Which is more or less true, but then he muddied his pitch with monarchist piffle and a perhaps unique take on history. “The colonisers unjustly took the land from the natives,” Mavundla argued, “and we are determined to fight for the return of Zulu land to our king and the restoration of the Zulu Kingdom to its former glory before the arrival of colonisers in 1652.”

Unfortunately, the electorate has condemned to ABC to irrelevancy. But there’s no reason why its vision cannot be adopted by the MKP. We should encourage them to do so. After all, they are, despite the fervent denials, fiercely tribal and wholly committed to leading their people back to the 19th century. Who are we to deny them? Let them play with their feathers and spears, just so long as the they keep to themselves.

The rest of us want to get on with things. It is true that an ANC-DA alliance — surely the most promising, if not the most likely of all possible alliances — would be anathema to those in the ruling party’s radical economic transformation faction. Lindiwe Sisulu is one such person, a veteran activist whose struggle to free her people from bondage has, in recent decades, been chiefly characterised by an indulgence for gorgonian wigs and Italian shoes. She has warned that such an alliance would amount to a “betrayal” of ANC supporters.

She has instead called for a coalition of black-led parties that, under the leadership of the ANC, would include, among others, the EFF, MKP, Inkatha Freedom Party and the Patriotic Alliance. All of whom would be united in comradely fashion under the commons goals of “black liberation and economic emancipation”.

Fine words, but in reality a union likely to be as cosy and fraternal as a sackful of feral cats. Consider, for example, the EFF’s conditions for entering a partnership with the ANC: Julius Malema has insisted his deputy, Floyd “VSB Mutual Bank” Shivambu, be finance minister and that one of his redshirt MPs be appointed Speaker of the National Assembly. While the MKP would agree to join forces with the ruling party, they would only do so if, in the words of Dudu Zuma-Sambadla, it was “not the ANC of Ramaphosa”. So, little chance of that.

This is not to suggest an alliance with the DA would be easy. We have been reminded on numerous occasions in recent weeks that, in the words of international commentators, the DA is regarded as “a pro-business” party, one that “is seen as catering to white interests”. Or, as Sisulu put it, “Black history in South Africa is painful, and many still bear the scars — just like me. A marriage between the ANC and DA may not help with the healing process of this beautiful nation.”

Such a union would bring back the “discriminatory practices” of the past, she added. 

“Allowing the DA to co-govern could bring about a mini-apartheid, as we see how the life of black people is in the Western Cape where the DA governs. Or should we be asking ourselves why would the ANC even consider a union with the DA and not our natural allies and brothers and sisters in the form of a Black Pact of Progressive Forces? After all, the struggle for our liberation was mainly to disentangle black people from colonialism and apartheid chains. So why are we donating ourselves, including our inherent rich and painful history, to our oppressors?”

For the benefit of readers who have only just this very minute landed on planet Earth, here are the Western Cape election results: DA 55.29 percent, ANC 19.55 per cent. It’s perhaps a little odd that Sisulu chose not to mention this, let alone dwell on the reasons why the party of “liberation” routinely fails to earn the trust of the province’s electorate. But no matter. 

If the DA brand is such a problem, why not chuck the IFP into the coalition as well, and call it a “Government of National Unity”? But, you may well ask, could it be truly one a government of national unity without the EFF or MKP? 

And the answer would be yes, most certainly, for the emphasis here is on the “government”, “national” and “unity”. An ANC-EFF-MKK combination would be the "Mayhem of Outlaws and Ochlocrats” or MOO option.

Lastly, Sisulu’s brand of toxic nostalgia and this tired yammer about the “inherent rich and painful history” of colonialism and apartheid is a common refrain among the populists. It is time that this sort of thinking be confined to history as well. It may sound trite and glib, but we really do need to move on. And with some urgency.