The dying days of ANC rule

Jeremy Gordin writes that the air is permeated with scuttlebutt and ungravitas

I notice, mes enfants, that 19 August 1944 – a mere 78 years ago – was the date on which the (successful) battle for the liberation of Paris (Libération de Paris) began.

I’m more upset, however, that I’m probably also going to miss the liberation of the beloved country from the ANC. I have of course read reports of how the ANC – founded on 8 January 1912 in Bloemfontein and the oldest and certainly most moribund liberation movement in Africa – might not score so well in the next national general elections.

Even the SA Communist Party predicted – three months ago – that the ANC will fail to get 50% of the vote in 2024.

So, shall I see the heat-warming sight of the DA’s Helen Zille, standing up straight next to the gear shift of her blue jeep, calmly holding on to the vehicle’s windscreen, her face jutting forward, eyes hidden by the requisite shades, as she leads her column of troops along Upper Park Drive?

I hope so – but fear I might not live long enough. Either way, at least Ms. Zille would have the necessary gravitas, wouldn’t she? Yes, she would, as long as she doesn’t start trying to dance with the locals when she alights outside Croft & Co. in Tyrone avenue.

Yes, gravitas: “seriousness and importance of manner, causing feelings of respect and trust in others” – you know, the sort of manner that our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, used to adopt and exude when starting his family meetings on TV.

Of course, this was in the days before nearly everyone in Seffrica had a picture in their minds of Cyril, qua teletubby, bouncing on his Phala Phala sofa, throwing greenbacks in the air, and screaming ‘Wheeeee ....’ 

I’ve been cogitating about “gravitas” because I note that the DA has pulled yet another of their let’s-pull-down-our-pants-in-public stunts. The party’s leaders – or its politburo, or whoever calls the shots there, maybe it’s just John Steenhuisen, a fellow not yet with the requisite gravitas, but he’s got promise – the decision-makers have decided to take the post of chief whip away from Natasha Mazzone.___STEADY_PAYWALL___

I’m one of those rare Seffricans who believes the DA and its duly-elected office bearers can do what they like for the “improvement” of the party. Far as I’m concerned, it’s their call.

But I’m in a minority. And now my heart sinks almost as low as my belly button – because henceforth we’re going to be deluged by a legion of so-called political journalists and radio commentators, like 702’s Bongani Bingwa (who used to be a sweet fellow), gaaning aan about how the DA – having just changed chief whips – is therefore not capable of running a spaza shop. That genius among political thinkers, Makhudu Sefara of the Sunday Times, has already begun a round of such articles.

But there’ll also be the bevy of DA apologists who’ll explain why the DA is allowed to change its chief whip – and that this move doesn’t mean the end of democracy in our time.

This has all come about because, according to something I’ve just read, certain party members have “alleged [Mazzone has] failed to provide strategic leadership on certain issues and lacked ‘gravitas’”.

I thought that was the whole point. What would you do with gravitas in our national assembly? In fact it could be a serious liability. In addition, Mazzone has that wonderful Johannesburg northern suburbs’ uncalibrated, glass-cutting and vowel-flattening accent – you know, like the gorgeous Giokos sisters, Heidi (eNCA) and Eleni (CNN).

Some might call this a “Karen” accent, but personally I prefer the older sobriquet, a “kugel accent”. And what better weapon to wield in the national assembly? I’m sure it sends a chill down the spine of Juju Malema, Pretty Boy Floyd Shivambu, and the rest of the reprobates.

Talking of whom, did you read about Malema’s peculiar “attack” on former president Thabo Mbeki? Malema alleged this week that Arthur Fraser, the former spy boss who got JG Zuma out of chookie and shouted J’Accuse about the Phala Phala sofa latkes, is working in tandem with Mbeki to unseat Ramaphosa.

Juju said Mbeki was keen on seeing Ramaphosa fall and was looking at making a comeback to lead the ANC.

What had happened was that – speaking during a memorial service for the ANC’s Jessie Duarte some weeks ago, Mbeki said the ANC has no national plan to address a number of social ills, including poverty, unemployment, criminality and inequality.

He also told mourners Ramaphosa had not fulfilled the promises he made during his state of the nation address (Sona) in February. “Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, when he delivered the Sona in February, said ‘in 100 days there must be an agreed comprehensive social compact to address these matters’. Nothing has happened, nothing,” Mbeki said.

I don’t believe this was news to anyone, especially not to Politicsweb readers, but it seemed to stir something in Malema’s breast.

“The RET forces of the ANC have never in jubilation celebrated Fraser, including on the Phala Phala allegations,” said Malema. “They have never declared Fraser as a hero [nor have they] used Phala Phala as a way of decampaigning [nice new word from Malema] the president.

“They [presumably the RET forces] are asking themselves whose agenda Fraser is driving,” Malema continued. “The answer is Fraser is with President Mbeki in the unseating of President Ramaphosa, because Mbeki says he is still disgruntled [at] not finishing his term [as president]. Fraser is actually working with Mbeki and not the RET forces.”

Strange thing to say, don’t you think? Malema might have little gravitas, but he’s generally pretty shrewd – so why this rather byzantine theory of his? Does he genuinely think our Thabo is going to have a shot at returning to the arena?

Anyway, Mbeki has, as they say, hit back at Malema. “[Former] president Mbeki rejects Mr Malema’s scuttlebutt with the contempt it deserves,” said Thabo Mbeki Foundation spokesperson Siyabulela Gebe.

“He is certain that it originates from the old apartheid intelligence machinery [and] it is intended to deepen divisions within the ANC and to frustrate efforts towards the organisation’s renewal.”

Oh Lord, not the “old apartheid intelligence machinery”! C’mon Thabo, even you can do better than that. There’s no gravitas in blaming all those old guys, most of whom have died anyway. You need to come up with better stuff to refute Commander Scuttlebutt, CIC of the EFF.

Could be that you’re not on speaks with your erstwhile deputy, JG Zuma, but if you are, maybe you could employ his daughter, Duduzile, to assist with your foundation. She knows how to write the real stuff:

“My name is Dudu Zuma. I am a daughter of a great man, the G.O.A.T. [greatest of all time] of politics, Jacob Zuma. His blood runs through my veins. I have no fear. I will not be intimidated. I have beaten the dogs, now the masters are coming out. We see you”.