Sars makes my Monday

Monday morning.

Durban’s a sodden, grey mess from the overnight deluge. It’s clearing gradually, but my bed still looks attractive. There’s no chance of a lie-in though. There’s diary to sort out, then a quick run to the high court in Durban before heading off to Pietermaritzburg for another gig.

I’ll hopefully make it back by early afternoon in time to feed our 12-year-old, who will undoubtedly be starving to death because his mother isn’t there to open the fridge for him, before cooking him dinner and trying to understand grade six maths. If I’m lucky I’ll get it all done in time for the Arsenal game against Leicester. Unai Emery has been getting results out of a team that had gone soft as a result of Arsene Wenger’s overstaying of his welcome by about half a decade. The Gunners aren’t title contenders yet, but the possibility of a return to the Champions League next season is real.

The mobile goes. I dive for it.

Ever since the new Sunday Times lahnee announced that he was going to pay back the money the paper’s former investigative unit won for the Cato Manor death squad story, I’ve been waiting for the organisers of at least one of the awards to do the right thing and square me up. So far, they haven’t. I’m still hopeful that they will, though. Maybe they’re waiting for the cheques to clear first. I would, if I were them.


READ MORE: NOT the news. More damage expected in Sunday Times fake news fallout

I scoop up the phone. It squirts out of my hand. Hits the floor, for probably the 50th time since I managed to get my man Charles Bronson to part with it. I’ve already replaced the screen twice. I pick it up. There’s a faint hairline crack in the transparent cover I’d stuck over the glass the last time I replaced it. At least I can still use it.

I check the message.

It’s not my reparations payment. It’s not even the South African Revenue Service (Sars) following through on the small sweetener they promised me last Friday when I eventually gathered up energy to go and file my tax return.

I’d been dreading going to Sars. With all the filth that’s coming out at the Nugent commission into the tax authority I didn’t hold much hope that filing would be a particularly pleasant experience, or that I’d get any money back, so I’d put it off for as long as possible.

It turned out that my sense of dread was uncalled for. The queue was long — maybe 1  00 people ahead of me when I got there at about 1pm — but Zim Ngqawana’s Zimology and Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew on the headphones took the pain away. The queue moved quickly and a team of greeters made sure everybody had their paperwork in hand so there were no lost Muppets digging for their IRP5s at the last minute. I was out by 2.30pm with a lovely little SMS saying that the acting commissioner, Mark Kingon, was paying me more than his suspended predecessor, Tom Moyane, did during his entire reign as the taxman. A rather pleasant surprise all round.

Back to the phone. It’s the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Yeah, them. They’re calling a press briefing. The party’s leadership has canned its elective national conference. Again. The IFP last re-elected its president for forever, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, six years ago and has cancelled their conference several times since.

The latest postponement is apparently because the branches don’t want to elect Buthelezi’s anointed successor, KwaZulu-Natal IFP secretary Velenkosini Hlabisa, as president. They apparently want to elect Buthelezi’s former anointed successor, Mzamo Buthelezi, from whom Shenge, as his supporters call him, withdrew anointment a while ago, causing the last postponement, as party president. There’s no date set for the conference to be held so the IFP will go into the elections with Buthelezi as their “presidential” candidate. Again.

There’s no surprise in the postponement. There’s no way the conference was ever going to happen. Buthelezi has been president of the IFP since it was founded in 1975. That’s 43 years. Nearly half a century. Think about it: I was 10 years old when Shenge put on that Baden-Powell outfit for the first time. I’m 53 now. Shenge has been running the IFP for nearly as long as I’ve been on the planet and, clearly, has no plan to call it a day any time soon, retire, stay at home at KwaPhindengene. Watch music videos with the grandkids.

The way I see it, there won’t be another IFP elective conference as long as Shenge is with us. There will be postponement after postponement, while the party’s slice of the electoral cake continues to shrink.

Talk about overstaying one’s welcome. Shenge makes Wenger look like a dilettante.

The mobile goes again. This time it’s worth checking. The acting commissioner of Sars has come through on his promise. The money is in.

All, perhaps, is not lost.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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