I’m waxing biblical.
It’s hard not to.
It’s a beautiful morning in Durban, the metro in which — unlike Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni — Jesus failed to come back in the mayoral elections that were finally wrapped up on Wednesday, three days and three nights — sort of — since He nearly made a triumphant return.
The Son of Man certainly gave it a go.
It took three days of collapsed meetings; late-night hustling of the one- and two-vote wonders who scored seats on 1 November; an alleged bending of the council’s own rules of procedure and — according to the Democratic Alliance — a couple of brown envelopes — to keep the mayoral chain in the governing party’s hands — or around its neck, to be more accurate — and stop the Second Coming of the Lord that former president Jacob Zuma predicted, all those years ago.
If the comrades hadn’t cut the power and staged a pitch invasion at inaugural council meeting at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday to buy the ANC time to hustle votes to replace those of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), it was Jesus’s portrait, and not that of Mxolisi Kaunda, that was going up in the mayor’s parlour this morning.
The result of the vote for speaker on Monday made it clear that the IFP had bailed on the “governance agreement” its leaders had struck with the ANC last week and had abstained from the election, instead of backing Thabani Nyawose as expected.
The deal hadn’t sat well with the IFP’s councillors and as soon as the ANC failed to deliver on their side of the deal at Abaqulusi and Mtonjaneni and fielded candidates instead of backing the IFP, they got the excuse they were waiting for and pulled out of the deal around the province.
Overnight deals with the Economic Freedom Fighters saw Umhlatuze and Newcastle swing towards the IFP, with the red berets getting speaker and deputy mayor gigs in return.
Who would have thought?
In Durban the IFP contingent abstained from the vote for speaker while waiting for clarity from above — in this case, KwaPhindangene and not heaven — as to how they were going to approach the vote for mayor and deputy.
Word spread that the elephants were going with Jesus — in the form of the DA’s Nicole Graham — in the mayoral vote, with their caucus chairperson, Mdu Nkosi, running as deputy Nazerine — sort of a Peter, James and John, all rolled into one — with the backing of the DA.
So it’s no surprise that the meeting was invaded by the group of comrades who just happened to be gathered outside and who miraculously made it through two sets of metal gates and the large contingent of council security, South African Police Service and metro police who were on duty at the entrance to the stadium and didn’t reach its logical conclusion.
If it had, Jesus was riding into the Durban City Hall on the back of an elephant, rather than a donkey, by the close of business on Monday.
After the not-so-divine intervention, the ANC then did what the eThekwini region does best and — in the spirit of its late chairperson, John Mchunu — went to work on the disciples, like wounded money lenders — or Pharisees — sniffing out greed, ego, weakness, vanity, while the candles burned down.
Thirty pieces of silver, anyone?
By the time the cock (hadeda, actually) crowed on the third day, the ANC had found its Judas Iscariot — in the form of Philani Mavundla, the founder of the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) and a former funder of the former head of state — and was ready to make its move.
It also found Judas’s price: Mavundla — who famously refused a mayor’s salary at Greytown while paying Nxamalala’s bills — was willing to dump Jesus in return for the deputy mayor’s seat on an ANC ticket.
Factor in the single votes of the parties who stood on a ticket of removing the ANC from power in the city and the party had enough ballots — nine of them to be precise — to ensure that Jesus would have to put off His — in this case Her — return to eThekwini until 2026.
We all have a price — it’s just not always money.