/ 19 August 2022

Let the number games begin

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United we shall stand: The ANC has two months to sort out who it wants the leaders to be — within boundaries. Photo: Delwyn Verasamy


I’m up earlier than usual, my sleep broken by anxiety over the possibility of having to swap Arsenal away to Bournemouth for Misuzulu vs Simakade at Nongoma on Saturday, which may be my fate.

I accept that there are people to whom monarchies are important — here and elsewhere — but I’m not among them, especially if I’m paying.

Perhaps I’d be better disposed towards monarchs and monarchies if Elizabeth gave the six counties back to Ireland; or if the winner of Misuzulu vs Simakade handed out title deeds to the people living on the land they’re fighting to control.

Imagine if those who wanted to have kings, or queens, did so at their own cost and in their own time — like Netflix or Apple Music or voting for Idols — and left the public purse to do what it is meant to do in a republic like ours and allowed people like myself to watch football in peace.

No brother versus brother.

No drawn-out court battles.

No beef between Toya DeLazy and her grandpa.

Another week brings another reshuffle, although in this case it’s not a shake-up of the national executive by President Cyril Ramaphosa — or even the “Taliban” pulling the strings in KwaZulu-Natal — but only Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen rearranging his shadow cabinet.

John has, we are told, decided to redeploy the party’s top team in the National Assembly to different roles, with chief whip Natasha Mazzone getting the heave, reportedly over her lack of gravitas, and being appointed as Steenhuisen’s national security adviser.

Siviwe Gwarube takes over the whip’s post from Mazzone, while Solly Malatsi is back as party spokesperson.

It’s much ado about nothing, actually. Leading a shadow cabinet is a bit like having an imaginary friend or a toy telephone and way less exciting — or important — than Phala Phala giving some of the deadwood in his cabinet the chop.

Then again, this is probably the closest Steenhuisen will ever come to running a cabinet — let alone the country — so there’s no harm in him telling us about deploying the party’s cadres where he feels fit to deploy them.

The governing party has, thankfully, gone public with its guidelines for the nomination processes ahead of its 55th national conference, set to be held at the National Recreation Centre in Johannesburg in December.

Paul Mashatile, the ANC treasurer, acting secretary general and acting deputy secretary general — the father, son and holy spirit of Luthuli House — must have been busy campaigning somewhere, so the comrades had Kgalema Motlanthe, who heads its electoral committee, do the briefing.

Motlanthe was, as always, Mr Decorum, but whether the comrades will respond to his line of march as decorously as he would like, remains to be seen.

Nominations open on 7 September, leaving them two and a bit months to “convince” each other as to their “preferences” for candidates for the presidency and the rest of the national leadership of the party.

The ANC has retained the step-aside rule, so nobody facing criminal charges will be allowed to stand for election, or attend as a delegate, despite the fuss kicked up by the “Taliban” last month.

There are to be no members of members at Nasrec this time around; no heads on T-shirts are allowed and delegates will be expected to conduct themselves with dignity and revolutionary discipline.

No wenzene’ing will — it appears — be permitted.

The ANC has also banned “foreign” practices such as paying “sweeteners” to delegates, placing them in “quarantine” or supplying them with flights and accommodation and psychoactive substances.

Paid advertising, factionalist T-shirts and slates are not allowed — but modest drinks are.

The electoral committee will have oversight with regard to all campaign funds accepted by the various contenders who will, for the first time, actually be officially allowed to admit that they are campaigning, after 7 September, within accepted standards, of course.

I, for one, am grateful.

Thus far the lobbyists for the would-be contenders for the ANC’s top posts — in particular the presidency and the deputy presidency — and those working for the individuals behind some of the contenders — have been wilding — whisperingly — behind the scenes, claiming all kinds of support for their unprincipled principals from comrades here, there and everywhere.

Now the whispering stops and the numbers game starts.

Nominations from the ANC’s branches get a candidate’s name on the ballot for the presidency, or the top six, or the national executive committee, not claims of support from this or that super branch, region or province — real, imagined or otherwise.In the words of the late, great Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on.