My ass still aches, but 2018 is here

The ANC conference was insane. A week of being stuck in a cordoned-off conference hall with 1 500 media types watching each other’s every move while waiting to be herded into the main hall for the “open” sessions. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The ANC conference was insane. A week of being stuck in a cordoned-off conference hall with 1 500 media types watching each other’s every move while waiting to be herded into the main hall for the “open” sessions. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Tuesday. January 2. The first working day of the year is upon us. The two weeks of respite from deadlines was a relief. By the second week I was already dreaming about copy and filing plans. I guess it must have been enough of a break.

I spent New Year watching Jurassic Park with my 11-year-old while his mother went partying, so I’m close to match fit. Not totally, but I’m way more ready for this than the branch delegates to December’s ANC elective national conference were to vote for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the governing party’s new president.

The ANC conference was insane. A week of being stuck in a cordoned-off conference hall with 1 500 media types watching each other’s every move while waiting to be herded into the main hall for the “open” sessions. Furious bouts of filing with endless hours of hustling contacts over the phone in between. While the future of the country was being decided. My ass is still aching from sitting on the Nasrec floor for hours on end waiting for stalled sessions to get going.

The worst part was dealing with the ANC security cats. Conference for them means power over the media and their political seniors for a week. They’re not shy to use it. Hand out samples of the disempowerment of their real lives to others. Make everybody as miserable as possible. At least we don’t have to deal with them for another half a decade.

I was sitting on the floor in front of the stage when the results of the top six elections were announced. I was watching President Jacob Zuma’s face as it was announced that Cyril Ramaphosa had beaten Dlamini-Zuma for the presidency. Daddy looked like he had puked in his own mouth. Was trying to swallow his own vomit, while regaining control of his facial muscles.

Dlamini-Zuma was also sitting in the row at the front of the stage, across the aisle from her ex-hubby. Mama took the result way better than Daddy did. Mama managed a smile and a clap or two in acknowledgement of Ramaphosa’s victory.

Mama looked way less stressed about the outcome than Daddy. As if she had way less invested in her presidential campaign than Daddy did, radical economic transformation or no radical economic transformation.

Then again, Mama only lost the presidency. There’s already a lobby in KwaZulu-Natal suggesting her as a potential ANC KwaZulu-Natal premier candidate for 2019. Daddy may end up losing his freedom, with a less than sympathetic Ramaphosa running the party and with a court mandate to appoint a new prosecutions head, so one can’t blame him for having that look of dread on his face.

Back to Tuesday. My diary’s underweight. I’m scrolling the TV to catch up. It’s day one for recreational cannabis in California. I’m watching this cat in a suit reeling off the figures about turnover and taxes to be paid on it. They’re impressive. Millions of tax dollars just waiting to be collected by government. Thousands of legal, permanent jobs. I’m hoping somebody in treasury is watching. And in the higher education ministry. And in the ANC presidency.

Daddy gave government — and Ramaphosa — a serious hospital pass in December when he announced free higher education without a plan to make it happen. Or the money, given that his bras the Guptas have chowed it all.

There’s a sensible way to ease the pressure on the fiscus. Legalise 
recreational and medicinal cannabis. Regulate and tax the industry, like booze and pharmaceuticals. Use the proceeds to fun free education across the board. Join the modern world.

The mobile goes. It’s my mate, Glen. Glen’s an okay guy. Glen was a conscientious objector in the apartheid days. Glen got caught up in the punk movement. Glen got his face tattooed. Glen turned himself into a walking target for the forces of evil and reaction. Didn’t do his job prospects much good either.

Turns out, not much has changed. Glen’s been strip-searched in the street and arrested for a bankie of bud. Glen’s at the Umbilo cop shop. Glen’s got no money on him. Glen needs to be bailed out or face a night in jail before he can get to court.

I grab my wallet and head out the door. 

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