It’s the same old cock-up whenever the No 1 post is vacant

POLITICS

Monday evening. It has been a rough return to a full-time working life. A weekend of noise surrounding Deputy President Cyril Rampahosa’s penis and what he allegedly did or did not do with it. Two full days of death and misery at the high court in Durban. I had forgotten that stench of desperation, Jeyes Fluid and stale cigarette smoke.

I’m not match fit. Three months of lying on the couch eating up retrenchment insurance does that. Daily trips to North Beach courtesy of Durban’s nonexistent winter. Long bouts of awaiting the implementation of the Western Cape High Court’s one-man, one-plant cannabis ruling. Strict implementation of a total news and politics blackout. Nothing more intellectually challenging than the odd grade five science project. Every minute of the Proteas’ England Tests. I would have done it for longer, but the money was running out.

The toughest part was getting my Unemployment Insurance Fund pay-out.

Durban’s main department of labour offices have been closed for two years. In the meantime, the punters are redirected to Pinetown, Prospecton or Verulam. All are local offices. They’re all designed to allow unemployed people in the west, south and north of the city to sign without travelling all the way to town. None of them is designed to handle the mass of humanity herded their way from Durban.

Back to Monday. I hit the couch. My last boss bought it for me. It’s massive. All wood and dead livestock. I fit in head to toe, with a few centimetres to spare. The leather behemoth envelops me. It smells like one of those private clubs where old wit ous used to sit and drink whisky and count their blood money.

My mind moves to Ramaphosa. And his penis. Not lustfully, but in a more contemplative fashion.

I’m not surprised about the weekend’s sex scandal. It was always going to happen. Not because Ramaphosa is trying to quietly out-copulate the current incumbent, but because he’s hoping to replace him as the ANC’s Number One.

Scandal season is upon us. As it was before the nominations for the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference. And Mangaung five years later.

The road to Polokwane was paved with abuses of state organs. The intelligence services left their fingerprints all over the rape case against Jacob Zuma. Political interference got the corruption case against him thrown out of court. Thabo Mbeki wrenched the levers of state power so hard trying to manipulate the conference outcome that he broke them. Got himself a “don’t come Monday” in the process.

Mangaung? Different lahnee, same story. Doctored intelligence dossiers, reports, stitch-ups and false arrests. Potential organisers for the other side slapped with corruption charges in KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and elsewhere. Girlfriends and skeletons came flying out of the cupboards. By the time Gwede Mantashe mantashed in Mangaung, the fix was already in. Kgalema Motlanthe might as well have stayed at home.

The first sign that the grabber had been deployed again in 2017 came when Jeff Radebe stuck his neck out and mentioned a run for the ANC presidency. Bad move, bra. Suddenly, his requests for C.L.I.T. are headlines. At least he didn’t send any nudes.

Branches have started nominating Zweli Mkhize for ANC president. My money’s on him being grabbered next. Or arrested. Lindiwe Sisulu had thrown her hat in the ring. Hers will come once she gets any kind of branch or regional endorsement.

The muckraking is nasty, and it’s illegal, but it’s a part of the ANC succession battle. It is what it is. At least nobody’s getting killed. A few more months of this nonsense and grabber season will be over.

I’m way more worried about the Kalashnikov ballet playing itself out in KwaZulu-Natal. When the political violence in the 1990s ended here, the soldiers went to jail. The cats who gave the orders went to Parliament. The culture of impunity was never broken. It just got more deeply ingrained. The killings that started last May are getting more frequent. Death is heading our way.

My phone rings. Former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa is dead. He and two other ANC councillors were shot in an ambush after an ANC regional executive committee meeting in Umzimkhulu in July. He had been battling for his life since.

I roll off the couch and reach for my laptop. December suddenly seems a long, long way away. 

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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