Dark forces threaten Member


Malusi Gigaba is an Honourable Member, as they say in Parliament. He is, shall we say, a member in good standing.

He is innocent until proven guilty, too. It’s the rule of law. Not that Gigaba is fully cognisant of what the rule of law entails, given his Fireblade fumbles and the considered opinion of a judge that he lies when it suits him.

Speaking of suits, he has some good ones. History will record that he is a good suit-wearer, better even than Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who looks like Gigaba’s poor cousin.

Whatever he’s innocent of, Gigaba is guilty of ambition. How sweetly, almost shyly, he admitted that he has presidential hopes. But then he had to admit that, or the narrative of dark forces acting against him in a concerted manner to ensure he never becomes president wouldn’t fly.

This is known as the Zuma defence, as pioneered by the former president. In his case, the dark force trying to stop him becoming president was Thabo Mbeki, and we can all agree by now that Mbeki was right. In fact, he probably didn’t try hard enough. He thought that simply firing Jacob Zuma as deputy president, while noting that he was implicated in bribery and corruption as shown in a court of law, would be enough. 

He may have imagined that such a move would sufficiently embarrass Zuma to abandon his presidential plans, but he imagined wrong. Zuma could not, cannot, be embarrassed. Zuma was not an Honourable Member.

The dark forces arrayed against Gigaba are different. They include those pesky persons who leak reports linking him to malfeasance at Eskom, for instance — but, let us hasten to add, that report is unfinished. Gigaba has to be presumed innocent, at least until the report is finished, though he would probably argue that even a finished report is not enough to prove him guilty, and, after all, Gigaba is an Honourable Member.

And why would anyone want to stop Gigaba becoming president? That’s the part that doesn’t make sense. They must be very dark forces indeed to try that trick, and rather thick too — for it must be said that no number of sexual indiscretions (even rampant self-exposure) have damaged the career of any South African politician. Those dark forces are perhaps too idealistic, as Mbeki was in the case of Zuma; they think Gigaba is embarrassable. He is not. Look at that lovely pilot’s outfit he used to wear to the opening of Parliament, for one thing. That is not the garb of an embarrassable man.

And why not President Gigaba? He wears a suit well, as we have said. He read out the budget earlier this year with much aplomb, proving that he’s a good actor. He’s threatening to sue a radio commentator, proving he is willing to cling to his dignity even when it has been shattered, which is the kind of self-belief a president needs (ask Donald Trump). He blames mysterious dark forces whenever things go wrong, as presidents do, and of course he’s never done anything bad in his life. For he is an Honourable Member.

Ooh baby!

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Author Shaun de Waal
Shaun De Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week.


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