Guns blazing or sweet surrender?

Thursday. The fine mist of rain over Durban has ended a series of madly humid days. I’m under the duvet for the first time in about three months. Bed is a far more attractive option than an early-morning keyboard session.

Unwritten stories have piled up like corruption counts against Daddy, our soon to be former head of state. Deadline day is upon both Daddy and myself, it seems, so I crawl out of my pit. Brush my teeth. Get a coffee and the laptop going.

Unlike me, Daddy’s made his deadline. On Wednesday night, at about 9pm we are told, Daddy made his representations to Stitch up Shaun — his bought and paid for National Deflecter of Public Prosecutions — as to why he shouldn’t face the 783 counts of fraud and corruption stemming from the R1.38-million in “seen rights”, as dodge payments are known in Durban, from Schabir Shaik all those years ago.

I wonder what Daddy’s representations were like? Shaik got 15 years’ jail for the payments, so what could Daddy’s say to Shaun, beyond his standard “it wasn’t me”?

Perhaps Daddy argued that because he never delivered on any of the deals Schabir paid him to use his influence and office to swing, he can’t be charged with corruption. Conning Shaik, perhaps, but not corruption.

Perhaps Daddy claimed Shaik pulled a Mark Fish. Confused Daddy with some other cat with two heads and a taste for other people’s money. Gave the cash to the other brother instead. Perhaps. Perhaps.

The charges stemming from the payments from Shaik may turn out to be a minor headache compared with what lies ahead for Daddy. The ANC has made it clear that Daddy’s gig as head of state is up, despite what secretary general Ace Magashule had to say in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday. The national working committee wants Daddy to watch President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the State of the Nations address on TV with his wives at home in Nxamalala village. On ANN7, if he wants to.

I wonder if Daddy will step down when told to do so? Go gently. No kicking and screaming. No risking impeachment and a vote of no confidence in Parliament. No last minute Cabinet reshuffle. Daddy’s never gone quietly before. Perhaps Daddy will do the right thing for once and fall on his sword. Perhaps.

If former Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa head Lucky Montana’s evidence at the parliamentary hearings on alleged state capture is anything to go by, Daddy’s problems could be worse than having to queue for unemployment benefits at the Eshowe department of labour.

Lucky’s evidence was like the last stand by Al Pacino’s fictional character in Scarface, Tony Montana, when the Colombian hit squad came to assassinate him at the end of the movie. Tony went out screaming defiance, firing off rifle grenades and wildly spraying bullets from his M16.

Lucky’s evidence about the attempts by the Gupta family, and Daddy’s son, Duduzane, to muscle him into giving them the multibillion-rand locomotive tender in 2012, was as deadly as a bullet fired by a dying man’s trigger finger.

The mobile goes. It’s Bongani, an old United Democratic Front contact from Inanda. I met him after he came out of Section 29 detention in the late 1980s. Bongani survived the war with Inkatha. Bongani became an ANC ward councillor. Bongani got purged when he fell out of favour with the leadership but stuck around in the party. Since December he’s been a happy man, positive about the change in party leadership.

Bongani is pretty agitated. The Inanda rumour mill is going mad. Daddy, the mill says, is getting ready to leave the ANC. Daddy and failed ANC presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have registered a new party, the Federation For Radical Economic Transformation (FFRET) and are getting ready to contest elections.

Bongani’s worried. Bongani doesn’t know whether to believe the FFRET story or not. Bongani is concerned that the Zuma supporters in the ANC in the province are so blindly loyal to Daddy that they would leave the party along with him and set up something that resembles a second Inkatha Freedom Party.

I try to calm Bongani down. Tell him this is fake news. More shit from the Gupta mill. Just another attempt to create reasons not to fire Daddy.

I suggest to Bongani that he call the Independent Electoral Commission as soon as their office opens. See whether either Daddy or Dlamini-Zuma has registered a party. Put his fears to rest. Get on with his life and enjoy a weekend with his wife and kids.

Bongani agrees and rings off, happier. I should charge for this.

The mobile goes again. It’s an invite to a press conference on Friday. Daddy’s friends outside the ANC are planning a hands off Jacob Zuma march on Luthuli House to demand that the ANC don’t fire him as head of state. Daddy’s friends are threatening fire and brimstone if the governing party sends him home to Nxamalala.

Daddy, it seems, is not going that quietly.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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