Pappi takes on Guru for Daddy


The sun has made it up before me for once, the legacy of Wednesday’s late-night Arsenal fixture and an overly enthusiastic dose of the full-plant cannabis oil shortly before kick-off, keeping me in bed a few minutes longer than usual. I had made it as far as half-time before the oil took the wheel, as it were, and ushered in that deep, dreamless sleep, from which I emerged, smiling and refreshed, to the news of a 2-2 draw and another game added to the unbeaten run.

It’s time to get serious, with the ever-present spectre of deadlines hovering over me. I power up the laptop and start checking out the news websites. I’ll clear emails later, after a coffee and once I’ve read last night’s match reports.

Something catches my eye before I get there.

It turns out that Bishop Bheki Ngcobo, the KwaZulu-Natal preacher who has been mobilising the faithful here in the kingdom to come gather in support of former president Jacob Zuma at his court appearances on corruption charges, has decided to launch a political party to contest next year’s elections.

The bishop is a seemingly holy guy — his English name is the rather biblical Timothy, after all — and he’s a leader of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa, which has, rather faithfully, been marching in defence of Zuma for some years now.

Last Friday the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership banned the good bishop and Black Label First from addressing the handful of punters who pitched up at the high court in Pietermaritzburg for Zuma’s appearance. They weren’t allowed to sit next to Zuma either, which, it appears, upset the bishop.

Ngcobo, who has been threatening to tell all seven of his followers to vote against the ANC for dumping Zuma, then decided to call the governing party’s bluff and start the People Against Petrol and Paraffin Price Increase, or Pappi, for short.

Pappi, it seems, will be launched on Friday, in Durban of course, where its manifesto will also be unveiled.

I wonder why the bishop chose the name Pappi? Is this some kind of homage to uBaba (Daddy), as Zuma is still known among the faithful, as in “I love you, Pappi”? Or is it some secret Zululand Illuminati codeword, known only to true believers in the Gospel of Saint Jacob, through which to mobilise?

Other issues raise themselves in my head.

Why petrol and paraffin? What about diesel? Did the bishop forget about ethanol, or doesn’t that count? What about cannabis oil, while we’re at it?

A thought hits me.

Perhaps the reference to paraffin is another swipe by the bishop at Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan? The Zumarites down here refer to Gordhan as Paraffin, some because they can’t pronounce his name, others because they think it’s funny.

Perhaps Pappi is all about stopping PG, as the comrades called him in the struggle days, from getting a salary increase, or from increasing in political stature? The Zumarites reckon Gordhan is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s prime minister and hate him with a passion, perhaps even more than they despise the man who replaced Zuma.

That must be it.

The bishop is this big, burly cat who, despite his taste for purple dresses, looks like he can handle himself when the shit kicks off, kinda like a heavier version of the African Christian Democratic Party’s Kenneth Meshoe, albeit with a knobkerrie. But if I were him I’d tread carefully while gunning for Gordhan. Guru, as some of the comrades still call him, is a heavy dude, a survivor, politically and otherwise, a streetwise operator in a business suit who was organising boycotts, strikes and stayaways when the bishop was studying Inkatha as a subject at school.

My mind continues to wander.

In seconds, in my mind’s eye, Gordhan and the bishop are going toe-to-toe, circling each other silently, about to engage in a deadly dance of death. The bishop, a younger man, has a height, weight and reach advantage, and makes his move, eager to land the first blow, but swings a little wildly.

The Guru blocks with his left forearm and steps inside, driving for the bishop’s throat …

The mobile goes.

It’s time to get serious.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations