/ 2 March 2018

The Cat is out of the bag

Smokin’: David Mabuza, Cyril Ramaphosa’s new deputy, could use some eye drops to go with his nine political lives. Delwyn Verasamy
(Delwyn Verasamy)

Wednesday. Durban’s morning is glorious. I should be in the ocean at Battery with Jah No Dead, in town for the opening Test match against Australia, celebrating Parliament’s decision to get the land redistribution ball rolling for real.

Instead, I’m girding my loins for a day of relentless deadlines, courtesy of Monday night’s Cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa’s axe work has been pretty impressive for a first outing. Better than I had hoped for. Systematic. Logical. A sensible first offensive from the beachhead established at Nasrec in December.

Cull those implicated in probes by Parliament, the public protector and the courts. Use the paperwork piled up against Mosebenzi Zwane, Lynne Brown and company to send them packing without a murmur of dissent.

Move those who are implicated, but who haven’t yet been placed under proper scrutiny, to portfolios where they can’t chow money while you wait for the system to deal with them. Keep them around so they can either clear themselves or hang themselves.

Bring back some of the talented Cabinet members axed by Daddy for refusing to do the Dubai dance and let them loose to dismantle corrupt networks. Get working on reducing the size of the Cabinet.

A reasonable start, given Ramaphosa’s narrow victory at the ANC conference and the need to balance the party’s needs with those of the republic.

Ramaphosa had no choice but to appoint former Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza as his deputy. It would have been suicide not to. The Cat delivered the ANC presidency to Ramaphosa. The Cat held hands with the NDZ crew. Sang their songs while getting his delegates ready to vote CR17. Appeared to be still sitting on the fence when he was not.

The penny dropped literally minutes before the results of the ANC presidential election were announced. The Mpumalanga “unity” delegation, to the left of the stage, got to its feet in unison. Until then, they had been singing along with the other comrades about Oliver Tambo. The Cat’s cats surged forward, breaking into a song about how they were going to moer the Guptas. Supra Mahumapelo, went charging towards them with his bodyguards in tow, keen to shut them up, but it was too late. The deed was done.

The cat was, as they say, out of the bag. The Cat and his cats had jikaed on Daddy. Voted for CR17. Not NDZ. One plus one equals former president Jacob Zuma.

The Cat, dodge as he is, is the one who set the stage for the political whirlwind of the past few of weeks, including Daddy’s recall. Red eyes and all. Not bad for the Daggasmoker from the Farm, as the Cat’s enemies call him. Those of them who are still around, that is.

With all of that, and the fact that he is the ANC’s deputy president after all, there was no way the Cat wasn’t going to get Ramaphosa’s old job.

The Cat comes with a helluva reputation. All sorts of stories about private armies, bags of cash and shallow graves. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cat handles the scrutiny that comes with national politics. And lifestyle audits.

I have only one piece of advice for the Cat. EyeGiene. Please. Urgently. Or Ray Bans. Black Wayfarers. I have a spare pair I’m willing to trade for bud. The original ones with the heavy frame. But High Grade, not Swazi. It’s too heavy on the chest.

I hit the TV remote. Time to catch up with the news. Get moving on the mountain of copy waiting to be written. There’s this white journalist on TV. She’s mangling Ramaphosa’s surname in this nasal north Jo’burg whine. It’s horrible. Sickening. Makes my spine convulse. Makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Sets my teeth on edge.

I don’t get that. The man’s name is RamaphoSA. Not RamaphoZA. So why call him RamaphoZA, if his name is RamaphoSA? Especially if you go walking on the beachfront with him and all that.

Perhaps the mangling of the Ramaphosa’s name is some instinctive, 1652 reaction to the knowledge that he’s going to give back the land. A genetically ingrained land-robber offspring response to the understanding that Ramaphosa, with a little assistance from the Economic Freedom Fighters, is going to do what Daddy was too busy looting to do, plummy tones or no plummy tones. Perhaps I see things that aren’t there. Perhaps I don’t. Either way, it’s on. What should have happened in 1994 is about to go down.

The mobile goes. It’s Jah No Dead. The brother’s out of breath. I can hear from the tremor in his voice that he’s shattered. Scared.

It turns out he’s fallen victim to the rip at Battery. Got swept out to sea. Had to be rescued by a lifesaver in a kayak.


M&G Slow