Dear Mabuza, don’t give Shenge another shot

After 36 hours of crawling my way through the third volume of the state capture commission report I’ve finally surfaced from the 1 000-page dive into a decade and a half of abuse of our state by the ANC and the leeches attached to the party — and the fiscus.

It’s been hard going, but compelling: a blow by blow of how Bosasa perfected the art of state capture, long before anybody heard the name Gupta; of how Gavin Watson and his cronies turned state departments into a personal bank for him, them and the governing party.

A history lesson about how the relationships that were born during the ANC’s hard years and flourished along with the party in government turned into a vile, parasitic network, with them — and the party — feeding off the state.

For a day and a half the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the football, sleep, have all disappeared — it’s just been me, the state capture commission report; the keyboard and deadlines.

Read.

File.

Repeat.

It’s a bit like going on a bender, to be honest; being focused on that single thing, with everything else ceasing to exist, until it’s done and then, suddenly, it’s time to move on to the next gig; to disengage, to sober up.

Decompress.

Like many of my fellow South Africans, I am a little perturbed by the news that Deputy President David Mabuza wants to be released from his government job to concentrate on work at Luthuli House ahead of the governing party’s national conference in December.

Not because The Cat, as Mabuza is popularly known, is the most dynamic or engaging of deputy presidents  — he’s been pretty much invisible since he took the gig — but because of the potential effect his departure may have on us as a nation.

With the release of the Zondo commission’s third report this week — and the impending completion of the fourth and allegedly final volume scheduled for the end of April — President Cyril Ramaphosa may not have many senior people in the ANC left from whom to choose a deputy president of the republic.

The natural attrition of senior party leaders generated by the state capture commission reports — this week it was Gwede Mantashe, Nomvula Mokonyane and Jacob Zuma, among others — may force Ramaphosa to take a leaf out of Nelson Mandela’s book; look beyond the comrades and appoint Mangosuthu  Buthelezi, the Inkatha Freedom Party’s president emeritus, as deputy president.

After the fourth report finally comes out, Ramaphosa may be left with no choice but to do so.

That would be a disaster, should Ramaphosa head off to the UN — or anywhere else across the Limpopo River for that matter, and make Buthelezi acting president.

It’s not just the relocation of parliament to Ulundi; the six-week long speeches; the extension of the Ingonyama Trust to cover the entire country or the dropping of the letter R from the alphabet that Buthelezi would order by presidential decree if he got control of the national remote for a couple of days.

The Inkwazi wouldn’t be off the ground and Shenge — the Vladimir Putin of Mahlabathini —  would already be declaring war and getting the troops ready for round two with Lesotho.

The Prince of Ka Phindangene is still smarting from when the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) got dealt with by the Lesotho army, which had mutinied in September 1998, sparking his decision to send in the troops, so he’s a cert to hit the red button on Lesotho if he ever gets a chance again.

Lesotho is not our only neighbour who might fall foul of Shenge’s own version of “deNazification” to borrow a term from the former occupants of channel 407, of the general Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

There’s a fair number of Zulu speakers in southern Mozambique, and Shenge has old friends in Beira, so a movement of SANDF armour to the northeast in defence of their linguistic and cultural rights could easily take place, if Shenge takes the wheel.

It would also be foolhardy to rule out Buthelezi pulling a Putin and ordering an incursion across the Lebombo Mountains to pay Eswatini back for the attempt to take Ingwavuma in 1982, if he were to be made temporary commander-in-chief again.

Shenge is still smarting — 1982 is only 40 years ago and our man can hold a grudge for centuries — so Eswatini should beware.

Hopefully, The Cat is going nowhere.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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