/ 28 September 2008

Smooth transition of beards

ANC members and opposition parties have welcomed the appointment of Kgalema Motlanthe as interim president, saying that his little white beard will help ease the transition between Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Meanwhile, Zuma has confirmed that it was Motlanthe’s beard, and his ability to stroke it in a reassuring manner, that won him the coveted position.

The appointment of Motlanthe has calmed many South Africans who were in shock after Mbeki’s resignation, a move many analysts believe was triggered by persistent allegations that Mbeki’s white beard was starting to look threadbare.

Mbeki’s beard first came to prominence during negotiations with the Nationalist regime in Dakar in 1985, when then state president PW Botha was so impressed by its fine texture and resolute springiness that he tried to grow one himself.

The attempt was unsuccessful and Botha reportedly tried to hide the failure by shaving off foreign minister Pik Botha’s lush moustache and gluing it on to his own chin.

Mbeki’s beard was again in the headlines in 1992 when it was credited with ending the threat of right-wing insurgency. In a meeting with AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche Mbeki’s beard impressed with its distinguished streaks of grey, while Terre’Blanche’s was widely condemned for looking like a pubic wig stapled to his jowls.

ANC spokesman Handpuppet Mxenge has denied there is bad blood between Mbeki and Zuma.

”Just because Comrade Mbeki has a slightly moth-eaten beard and Comrade Zuma has a sexy hot­chocolate dome and the skin of a man half his age doesn’t mean that they are not both committed to the revolution,” said Mxenge.

He said that Mbeki remained a valued member of the ANC, whose talents as an academic and intellectual would be invaluable when the time came ”to tutor our next youth league president in his quest to pass grade nine on the second try”.

Meanwhile, Zuma has deflected questions about his own clean-shaven appearance, saying that he does not want to detract from Motlanthe’s beard.

”Every single cadre in the ANC is capable of growing a beard,” he said.

Asked if this applied to women cadres as well, he said that he refused to discriminate.

This article first appeared on Hayibo.com