Meandos at the end of the Rainbow

Pressing flesh: Former president Jacob Zuma (right) was not supposed to take part in the ANC’s campaign in KwaZulu-Natal, but he keeps popping up on the election trail. (Rajesh Jantilal/AFP)

Pressing flesh: Former president Jacob Zuma (right) was not supposed to take part in the ANC’s campaign in KwaZulu-Natal, but he keeps popping up on the election trail. (Rajesh Jantilal/AFP)

Saturday.

I’m not sure how many days it is to go till the May  8 election. It’s quite a few. Too many, from where I stand.

I can’t wait for the elections to be over.
Once they are, the two factions in the ANC can end the (sort of) temporary halt in hostilities and get back to the business they left unfinished at the party’s elective conference at Nasrec in December 2017.

The knives were temporarily sheathed, up to a point, in the name of post-conference unity, with the war in the governing party moving to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and the list process of selecting candidates for Parliament. The big showdown between the supporters of former president Jacob Zuma and his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, is coming after the poll.

I should know how many days it is till we vote, but right now, thinking about it seems like too much effort.

On Monday, I’ll probably have to follow Zuma around KwaZulu-Natal — where he’s campaigning for the ANC, despite the party’s provincial leadership dumping him from its election campaign about a month ago — unless there’s divine intervention in the form of the Mail & Guardian’s annual “God edition”. There’s a short week ahead and a mass of deadlines that have piled up since last week, so higher powers may decide that I don’t get to run around after the former head of state, after all.

Perhaps.

Zuma’s silent reinstatement in the ANC’s provincial campaign would be a giggle if it weren’t so serious.

The governing party’s brass in the province decided to cut Zuma loose from its campaign — along with anybody else facing criminal charges — to try to clean up its act. Tough, but necessary, if it is to shed itself of its criminal enterprise image.

A couple of weeks later, Zuma is back, scheduled to lead the ANC’s campaign in Empangeni, Stanger and Durban, as if he’d never been dumped. Nobody’s explaining anything.

One day uBaba is feeling the cold, as it were, then one salvo on social media later and Nxamalala, as he’s also known, is back in the ANC fold and scheduled to be its point man for the Musa Dladla region’s campaign.

It’s amazing what tweeting pictures of oneself with a rival political party can do for one’s standing in the ANC. If one is Jacob Zuma, that is.

It would be a giggle, all right.

Perhaps I’m wrong and the ANC never decided to dump uBaba.

Perhaps.

If I were the ANC, I wouldn’t risk using Zuma as a front man for the May 8 campaign. It’s not just the contradiction — some could say insult — inherent in using a man charged with corruption, and who was fired over allegations of state capture, to spearhead a campaign based on the promise to stop stealing.

I know the governing party screens people pretty carefully before deciding they can interact with uBaba and its other campaign lahnees, but what if somebody drops the bomb, asks Zuma where Gadaffi’s $30-million is, right in front of all the TV cameras? Or, even worse, asks Nxamalala what he meant when he used his word “meandos” in Parliament, back in the day before he got fired.

Back to Saturday.

I’m in a front booth at the Rainbow. The place is packed. Economics have dictated that the Sunday gigs, a fixture at the Pinetown jazz club-cum-tavern for more than 30 years, have moved to Saturday afternoon. On Sundays the Rainbow is a place of jazz. On Saturday, it’s a place of drinking. The band comes on just before the end of the Premier Soccer League fixture on the big screen — the other reason, along with alcohol, that most of the Saturday punters come to the Rainbow — so things can get rowdy. The only way for the band to survive is to play hard and loud and try to win the punters over. That said, it’s a great gig, and it’s free.

This Saturday is no different.

Saxophonist Abraham Mennen is playing with a quartet: Ariel Zamonsky on bass, Reza Khota on guitar and drummer Claude Cozens. I’ve seen Zamonsky live with the Amandla Freedom Ensemble and Khota with Babu. Both can hammer it hard and have tamed the Sunday crowd on previous outings, so we should be in for a swinging afternoon.

The band hit the stage.

Mennen lets rip with his sax, a deep, raw brass that cuts through the crowd, still stunned by the disappearance of Kaizer Chiefs from the big screen behind him. A pause and the drums, bass and guitar crash in.

We’re on.

Zuma and his meandos can wait.

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