Ganja, Gigaba and the Guptas

Andrew Donaldson says our new finance minister has the one qualification that counts


THE Western Cape High Court yesterday ruled that we may freely possess, cultivate and use dagga in the home. Which is a good thing. We are going to need all the help we can get in these uncertain times.

Now, as I fire up this massive bong, I wonder about the next serious conversation Jacob Zuma will be having with his latest choice of finance minister. 

Will our constitutional delinquent be asking Malusi Gigaba if he has any ideas on how best to react to the coming downgrade to junk status by the ratings agencies? Or if he has given any thought on how best to further radicalise socio-economic transformation as envisioned by Accused Number One?

The thing is, Gigaba has no qualifications in finance and has not served on Parliament’s finance committee. But perhaps this is not necessary.

After all, as his predecessor, the unjustly dismissed Pravin Gordhan, told reporters at a briefing yesterday, he will be meeting with Gigaba on Monday to “take him through the key issues” at the ministry.

With that, Gordhan inadvertently hit the nail on the head. It is about the keys. The keys to the Treasury.

The only other qualification necessary for consideration here is the degree of fealty to the Zuptocracy. It’s deep. Maybe it’s the polio weed talking, but Gigaba’s right up that particular fundamental. Only his expensive pointy shoes are sticking out.

As the author and political analyst Ralph Mathekga told News24, “The fact that he’s in the Guptas’ pocket is beyond speculation. There was, for instance, a clear illustration of this when he used his influence to wrest a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport from the Oppenheimers for the Guptas.”

Meanwhile, it is widely suspected that the cabinet blitzing — “reshuffle” seems too polite a term — had been engineered from the Saxonwold Shebeen. According to Gwede Mantashe, the considerably unnerved ANC secretary general, the list of new appointments and dismissals had been drawn up without consulting the party, and was apparently “developed elsewhere”.

It’s not only the dope, but this sudden paranoia?

Here at the Mahogany Ride, we notice that those South African Communist Party members of the cabinet unaffected by all the chopping and changing — and they include Rob Davies, Ebrahim Patel, Jeremy Cronin and Blade Nzimande, among others — have not yet resigned as they previously suggested they would.

In February, the SACP’s central executive committee resolved that should Gordhan be fired, its members deployed in Cabinet may resign en masse to avoid being complicit in what it had termed “bad decisions”.

The party’s second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, told reporters that this action would be considered if Zuma’s discretion to appoint and fire ministers was done without consultation. As he put it, “We have not yet taken a decision to withdraw from cabinet or government. They will withdraw as ANC members, not purely as [SACP] members.”

The SACP repeated that threat on Thursday ahead of the Night of the Long Knives. This was at another briefing where it confirmed that Zuma had informed the party of his plans to fire Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.

But perhaps they’re still thinking about handing in their notices. Communists can be notoriously slow at times. It’s the nature of committees and collectivism. So it’s probably too early to say whether these Reds are yellow. 

Sorry. That definitely was the dagga.

To be fair, it was the SACP who revealed that Gordhan’s humiliating recall from his planned international investor roadshow in London had been based on a bizarre “intelligence” report that claimed that he and Jonas had intended to meet foreign businessmen in a bid to undermine the government. 

It also raised concerns about Gordhan’s alleged relationship with that other great distraction of our age, “white monopoly capital”.

Apparently cobbled together in the shebeen and scribbled down on the back of a beer coaster, the report has been widely rubbished as fake. 

Julius Malema has blamed the Guptas. The Economic Freedom Fighters leader claimed on Wednesday that the reports author was a spin doctor employed by the family. 

Speaking to reporters outside the Constitutional Court after the EFF had submitted an application seeking a directive to Parliament to take action against the President, including impeachment, Malema said, “[The Gupta employee] is responsible for the many fake news you see online in a desperate attempt to clean Zuma’s image.” 

The report was poorly written, not factual and incoherent, he added.

“We have this so-called intelligence report. It looks like it was written by a student of early childhood development.”

Or perhaps by someone who may have been on weirder, stronger medicine than our everyday homegrown puff.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.