It’s day 392 of the Covid-19 lockdown.
That sense of absolute terror that marked last April has dissipated over the past 12 months — along with my savings, courtesy of what is starting to look like a permanent salary cut.
Instead of the intense fear, there’s now a permanent sense of unease, a low grade anxiety that’s always hovering.
It’s been a busy week.
The head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa, has confirmed 27 October as voting day for the local government poll, ending months of speculation as to whether the pandemic would stop the elections from going ahead.
The suspensions have been flying — like chairs at an ANC regional conference — in the majority party. In Gauteng, the suspended presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko, has been served with a political Don’t Come Monday by the provincial executive committee. In North West, the interim provincial committee has slapped its former provincial chair and premier, Supra Mahumapelo, with a suspension notice that bans Black Jesus from party activities until his disciplinary process is over.
Despite this — or perhaps because of it — the majority party appears to have done pretty well in the year’s first round of by-elections, taking two seats off the Democratic Alliance from the early round of results.
Ramaphosa will be well pleased. A good showing by the ANC this week and in the May by-elections counters the argument by his critics that cleaning up the ANC will alienate its support base and hurt the party at the polls. More of the same — and a good result in the October elections — will strengthen Ramaphosa’s hand going into the 2022 ANC national conference and will boost his chances of pulling off a second term as party president and the lahnee of the Republic.
Tokyo Sexwale, the hardy perennial of failed ANC presidential bids, has again reminded us that a party national conference is on its way, with his bungled attempt to grab headlines with probably the most outrageous conspiracy theory we’ve heard since the pandemic began.
Sexwale appears to be unable to resist the temptation to throw his hat in the ring for the ANC presidency, regardless of whether a single party member would vote for him, let alone nominate him from the floor.
M’Japan has made his moves ahead of the past three ANC conferences — with zero success — so a reminder that he is still alive and willing to be lobbied to stand was inevitable.
Sexwale’s renewed presidential ambitions — or the ones in his head at least — disappeared nearly as quickly as the proposed European Super League did, with his realisation that he’s been the victim of a 419 scam and that R20-million he coughed in facilitation fees is gone.
Like the club owners who thought they would buy football, Sexwale has had another reminder that there are some things that money can’t buy.
The week’s drama didn’t end there.
The former head of state, Jacob Zuma, has been dumped by his legal team less than a month before his arms deal corruption case is finally about to get started. It’s been a decade and a half since uBaba was first charged for taking “seen rights” — as bribes are known in the Kingdom — from Schabir Shaik and French arms company Thales.
The parting of ways between Zuma and his lawyers is no real surprise.
It’s not just the fact that the supreme court of appeal has confirmed that the high court was right in halting state funding for Zuma’s legal teams and ordering him to pay back between R15-million and R20-million he has burned while playing “dodge the trial date”.
Our man has spent the past 15 years doing everything in his power to ensure that he doesn’t actually stand trial for the payments from Shaik and Thales, for which Shaik got a 15-year sentence.
Why would he stop now?
The withdrawal of Zuma’s legal team means the case won’t proceed on May 17. His new legal team — if he appoints one — will need time to familiarise themselves with the case, which means another adjournment.
The “crisis” over Zuma’s legal funding presents some nice opportunities. The faithful have already started fundraising for uBaba’s legal fees, which will go a long way towards paying the state, when the time to cough the R20-million eventually comes, as well as appointing a new legal team.
Not that uBaba needs the donations.
Nxamalala hasn’t spent a cent of his own money on lawyers since 2006, so it’s not as if Kemp J Kemp or Muzi Sikhakhane chowed Zuma’s millions keeping him out of jail.
There’s also an issue of principle involved here: Zuma has always paid for things with other people’s money, so him paying for his own lawyers isn’t gonna happen.