The ANC's Project Moby Dick

Andrew Donaldson on the party's new plan to chase after the white electorate


INCREDIBLE news, but the ANC is reportedly mulling over a plan to attract more white voters in next year’s national elections. Lest there be any confusion here: the plan is to get more white South Africans voting for the ANC, and not against them. According to City Press, the aim here is to regain the two-thirds majority the party once enjoyed. 

The obvious response to this is that very, very, many, many white voters would be needed to crank up support for the ruling criminal elite towards the 67 per cent mark. Truckloads of them, in fact. 

Here at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”), we imagine a national lobotomy campaign. We can see these white voters now, zombified, in their new T-shirts, chowing down on Happy Meals and — God forbid — maybe even toyi-toying at rallies in far-off Limpopo or some such. Thanks to some weird science fiction mass hypnosis ray gun, all recollection of the disasters and corruption of the previous 30 years will have been wiped from their brains…

The sad reality, however, is that the decision by my old friend Carl Niehaus to abandon the party he once swore he’d lie for to spearhead the radical economic transformation movement and get rid of Cyril Ramaphosa has seemingly reduced the number of high-profile white ANC members to just two diehards: Derek Hanekom and Cameron Dugmore. 

The former has been a minister of land affairs and agriculture, science and technology and, more recently, tourism. He is currently a presidential envoy (it says here) tasked with promoting “investment with a focus on tourism”. 

This may seem like Hanekom’s best days are behind him. But being a tourism envoy does, I imagine, come with certain responsibilities. It is an important position and probably involves hosting foreign dignitaries on official occasions. There’s protocol stuff. Take care not to slur one’s words at wine tastings. Don’t slip into bwana mode in the game parks. Avoid restaurants where the servers look like extras from the Black Panther movies. Above all, refrain from the “uncle at the wedding” dance moves whenever old Miriam Makeba tunes are played at receptions.

Dugmore, meanwhile, is the leader of the opposition in the Western Cape provincial parliament. While that interesting fact settles down among yourselves, I’d like to remind readers that the telling blows Dugmore struck against the previous racist regime included participation in the removal of apartheid signs at beaches on the Garden Route. 

It is true that many of us also removed “Whites Only” notices from public amenities in the 1980s. But we did so because we were drunk or stoned or both and wanted to impress upon sociology students a louche disregard for authority and thereby hasten progress mattresswards. Dugmore, however, had followed a more principled calling: his mom was a member of the Black Sash and he was kind of following orders.

But we digress. A group which calls itself the ANC national group crisis committee is now hoping to mobilise farmers, students and “other community members” across the country to vote for the party.

City Press suggests that the president himself is “driving” this campaign to increase membership from white, coloured and Indian voters. There is some concern, apparently, over “the diminishing nonracial character of the ANC”. 

Try not to laugh. This is serious. Quoting an unnamed source, the newspaper added that Squirrel was hoping that, “even in government, the party would deploy some of [these ethnic minorities] to reflect it as a nonracial organisation with equal representation”.

It’s called “window dressing”, I believe. And, weirdly enough, it seems these people have done their calculations, totted up the figures and come up with a race-based formula for the ideal non-racial profile. “The assumption,” City Press reports, “was that, even if the ANC get 40 per cent in the votes as predicted by various surveys, if the party got 20 per cent from the white voters, it would win the elections with an overwhelming majority…”

Irony aside, this strikes me as extraordinarily naive. As many as one in five white voters supporting the ANC in 2024? And on what planet is this? Without being too presumptuous, I imagine the reluctance to vote for the gangsters is just as high among the Indian and coloured electorate. And it’s growing among black voters as well.

But hope, it is said, springs eternal. And Squirrel has told the party’s national group crisis committee that a “proper expression” of the ANC’s non-racial character was now urgently needed. City Press quoted him as saying:

“And we need to be focusing on that. Because, yes, this is where we’ve been a bit weak. The non-racial character of the ANC has been weakening, and I have said so on a number of occasions. Now we’ve got a number of people in our organisation, including white, young people who’ve come to the fore. Who’ve said we have joined the ANC. 

“We want the party to embrace everyone and lift the nonracial character of the ANC. It needs to be seen by all and sundry that the ANC is the home for all South Africans, every South African, be they white, Indian or coloured people ... they must feel that the ANC is their home.”

It’s way too late for that, I’m afraid. All those post-1994 race-based laws, you know. Besides which, we all know what the ANC mean by “home”. It’s a gated luxury estate surrounded by security fences where the power’s always on and common folk certainly aren’t welcome.

Storm clouds

Shortly after Donald Trump posted on Truth Social last month that he expected to be arrested within a few days and urged his supporters to “protest, take our nation back”, the late night TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel joked that this was “the calm before the Stormy”. 

A good crack — except that the run-up to the former president’s arraignment in a New York court on Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty to 34 charges of falsification of his business records has been anything but calm. Much of the noise and hysteria has been fuelled by the man himself. 

He has described the trial judge, Juan Merchan, on TruthSocial as “a Trump-hating judge” adding that “it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to get a fair trial”. Elsewhere, he posted that the trial was a “witch hunt, as our once great country is going to hell! America first!” And this wonderful outburst: “These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED the 45th President of the United States of America.” 

A better gag, perhaps, came from Guardian columnist Marina Hyde: “To adapt the calcified cliche about Al Capone, they’re trying to get him on sex evasion.” Trump has of course always denied his affair with the porn star Stormy Daniels even though he paid her $130 000 to shut up about it. After initially denying the payment, he later admitted that he had done so “to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair”. Whatever. 

On the whole, though, and despite having made history as the first US president to be indicted and face criminal charges, Tuesday’s events struck me as disappointing: no perp walk, no mugshots and no handcuffs. Prints were taken of those tiny fingers, however, and Trump was warned by the judge to behave himself — this after prosecutor Chris Conroy told the court that a protective order was needed “to address the defendant’s behaviour”. 

Among the statements Trump had made in run-up to his arraignment was a post on social media showing the former president brandishing a baseball bat over a photograph of district attorney Alvin Bragg’s head. Trump’s legal team argued that their client had been living under the threat of indictment for months and that he had responded to this threat “forcefully” out of frustration.

The judge disagreed. “I don’t share your view that certain language and certain rhetoric is justified by frustration,” Merchan said, before urging prosecutors and defence lawyers to speak to their clients “and remind them from making statements that likely to incite violence or civil unrest”. Addressing Trump directly, Merchen reminded him of his rights, adding, “If you become disruptive — and I don’t have any reason to think that’s going to happen — I do have the ability to remove you from this courtroom. Do you understand that?”

Trump certainly did. Nonetheless, his next hearing is set for December and, between now and then, he will certainly seek to further capitalise on Tuesday’s court appearance. Even if convicted and imprisoned, there is no constitutional barrier that bars him from running for office.

It’s not known how this would affect a presidential campaign, but it does appear that the indictment has galvanised Republican support for Trump. In the past week, he has raised about $8-million in political donations and, just as he was being booked and fingerprinted, his campaign team launched a fundraising email driver offering T-shirts for sale featuring a fake Trump mugshot.

There are, meanwhile, other legal hassles in the offing. The matter concerning the retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home, is continuing. He is also being investigated over his role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill riot and invasion of Congress. In addition, the state of Georgia is investigating him for alleged election interference over his attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

On top of that, there’s the defamation claims brought by author E Jean Carroll who alleges that she was raped by Trump in a department store changing room in the 1990s. Carroll is also pursuing an assault claim under a New York law that permits survivors of sexual abuse to sue their attackers after states of limitations have run out.

Somehow, out of all this, a genuine Trump mugshot will emerge. That’s the one that should be on the T-shirts.

Farewell to a friend

Many of the glowing tributes to our colleague, Jeremy Gordin, have mentioned in passing that, while his bark may have been worse than his bite, he certainly did not suffer fools gladly. That may have been the case where others were concerned, but it wasn’t the experience of this particular fool.

I’ve only known him to be kind and generous. He was particularly supportive of my writing, and seemed genuinely angry with the Sunday Times when they axed my column in 2010. I remain grateful for that, as the paper’s shabby treatment had shattered my confidence.

Over the years that followed, Jeremy would regularly email advice and suggestions for this column. Sometimes he sent me poems, obscure and often bizarre news cuttings and trenchant opinions on fellow hacks. But it’s the jokes and one liners that I shall miss the most.

When David Crosby died, for example, he sent me the Guardian’s obituary, with this comment: “They don’t tell the best anecdote of all about him (I heard it at one of their ‘let’s-make-up’ concerts in Seattle) – how he was once lying on the beach somewhere in California – and was thrown into the water by a crowd because people thought he was a beached whale…”

This, after I’d sent him a Bob Dylan video: “Uncanny stuff, uncanny. I must be channelling the fellow ... as a Seattle girlfriend of mine might have said…” There was much more, of course, and I’d love to share them with you but … well, there are libel laws. Still, what was it about Seattle, I wonder?