Beer, gossip and donkey's tales

Malema supporters keeping vigil before this court appearance. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Malema supporters keeping vigil before this court appearance. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Cyril Ramaphosa, the group agreed as they passed around a beer, is irredeemably tainted by his enormous wealth, which extends to pretty much owning all the mines in the country, where he essentially enslaves people. Tokyo Sexwale, by contrast, is a noble revolutionary who gave up his wealth and privilege to serve the state.

And Julius Malema? Isn't he rich, if he has a R16million tax bill? The beer stops moving around the circle. "We don't believe those lies you people tell us," says the man holding the can. "If you lie like that about our chief, then you are going to have trouble here."

It was a fairly typical conversation outside the Nirvana Hall in Polokwane, where 600 people gathered on Tuesday night to await, they thought, an appearance by Julius Malema.

Four hours later, with no Malema, discussions occasionally turned stranger. Some of the supporters' weirder ideas: all shebeens should be nationalised so the government can both regulate the amount of alcohol sold and profit from it; schools that fail to produce enough ANC Youth League members should be starved of state funding; corruption should be punished by beheading.

But the analogies used by their leaders were better. After Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, that donkey spread word of how well he had been received, said Malema ally and former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, explaining to the vigil how he and others had gone from supporting Zuma to despising him.

When all the other donkeys went to Jerusalem expecting red-carpet treatment, they were beaten. "They didn't understand that what was important was [having] somebody on top of the donkey," he said.

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet writes about politics, society, economics, and the areas where these collide. He has never been anything other than a journalist, though he has been involved in starting new newspapers, magazines and websites, a suspiciously large percentage of which are no longer in business. PGP fingerprint: CF74 7B0F F037 ACB9 779C 902B 793C 8781 4548 D165 Read more from Phillip de Wet

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