The gloves (and masks) are off

Thursday.

I awoke — like the majority of my fellow South Africans — rather chuffed with the news that the minister of health, Joe Phaahla, had finally decided to do away with the wearing of masks in response to Covid-19.

Masking up served its purpose during the earlier waves of the pandemic but it’s been apparent for some time that with the lessening severity of the newer variants, we can dump the face gear and crack on.

Granted, some of us looked better with masks than without them, having never been known for our beauty, and they did negate the need for regular shaving, but I’m with the good doctor on this one.

This is definitely going to create difficulties for our facemaskpreneurs, who popped up in the heady days of April 2020. They will have to find a new way of milking the national purse, now that the mask and sanitiser gig is pretty much done.

One wonders what direction our accountants-turned-personal protective equipment providers and the like will take, now that the Covid-19 profits are drying up.

The rebuilding of Durban is an obvious channel but it may prove to be a tad difficult, given central government’s unwillingness to release funds en masse to the province, and a little obvious.

Then again, nobody expected the wave of blatant looting that accompanied the declaration of the Covid-19 state of national disaster.

Like the Covid-19 regulations, the Zondo commission has also come to an end.

Like many of my fellow South Africans — or at least those with electricity — I found myself compelled to watch the live handover of the final chapter of the commission’s report on state capture to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night.

The commission has been a big part of our lives since 2018 and has educated us, somewhat, about how the wheels came off our fair republic — and who among our leaders were responsible for loosening the wheel nuts — so it made sense to watch Chief Justice Raymond Zondo officially deliver the goods to the head of state.

Zondo has kept most of the really juicy bits — the State Security Agency’s role in diverting millions from its secret funds and using its resources to fight the governing party’s internal battles and Ramaphosa’s testimony as ANC president and head of the country — for last, 

There was also a chance — albeit slim — that Carl Niehaus might follow through with his threat to carry out a citizen’s arrest of Ramaphosa over the millions of dollars stolen from his farm, so there was no way I was going to miss the final handover ceremony, just in case.

I was glued to the laptop screen in case Mpangazitha came hurtling out of nowhere — dressed to the nines in a 1970s railway police uniform — and tackled Ramaphosa to the floor before roping him like an Ankole bull and dragging him off to face trial.

Granted, Niehaus would have had to make it past a minder or two from the presidential protection service to pull it off but, given the alleged ease with which the Mattress King’s millions were made off with, the possibility of Carlito affecting a citizen’s arrest of the first citizen in front of millions of viewers couldn’t be completely ruled out.

Think about it.

One minute, Ramaphosa is making nice with Skhangane, thanking him for his contribution to saving South Africa from state capture, the next, the head of state’s been captured by Carl and hauled off to court in Nxamalala and an eleventy seven year prison sentence.

Perhaps a concern about being pinned to the ground by Carlos and arrested live on the telly — and not a sore back — was responsible for the president’s stiffness; the apparent discomfort with which he carried himself, during the handover.

I’d been expecting a bit of a party atmosphere, or at least a smile or two from the lahnee as he accepted the final report.

Perhaps the president was just tired: counting the millions from last weekend’s cattle auction must have been keeping him up at night — that and the parts in the report about himself.

If I were Carlito, I’d chill with talking up citizens to arrest the head of state.A number of his own comrades in the radical economic transformation faction of the ANC are pretty likely to be facing charges over the contents of Zondo’s final chapters in the not too distant future, and could end up being tackled by some stray punter and dragged off to jail themselves.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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