It’s the same old cock-up when­ever the No 1 post is va­cant

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis - Paddy Harper

Mon­day evening. It has been a rough re­turn to a full-time work­ing life. A week­end of noise sur­round­ing Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ram­pa­hosa’s pe­nis and what he al­legedly did or did not do with it. Two full days of death and mis­ery at the high court in Dur­ban. I had for­got­ten that stench of des­per­a­tion, Jeyes Fluid and stale cig­a­rette smoke.

I’m not match fit. Three months of ly­ing on the couch eat­ing up re­trench­ment in­surance does that. Daily trips to North Beach cour­tesy of Dur­ban’s nonex­is­tent win­ter. Long bouts of await­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Western Cape High Court’s one-man, one-plant cannabis rul­ing. Strict im­ple­men­ta­tion of a to­tal news and pol­i­tics blackout. Noth­ing more in­tel­lec­tu­ally challenging than the odd grade five sci­ence project. Ev­ery minute of the Proteas’ Eng­land Tests. I would have done it for longer, but the money was run­ning out.

The tough­est part was get­ting my Un­em­ploy­ment In­surance Fund pay-out.

Dur­ban’s main depart­ment of labour of­fices have been closed for two years. In the mean­time, the pun­ters are redi­rected to Pine­town, Prospec­ton or Veru­lam. All are lo­cal of­fices. They’re all de­signed to al­low un­em­ployed peo­ple in the west, south and north of the city to sign with­out trav­el­ling all the way to town. None of them is de­signed to han­dle the mass of hu­man­ity herded their way from Dur­ban.

Back to Mon­day. I hit the couch. My last boss bought it for me. It’s mas­sive. All wood and dead live­stock. I fit in head to toe, with a few cen­time­tres to spare. The leather be­he­moth en­velops me. It smells like one of those pri­vate clubs where old wit ous used to sit and drink whisky and count their blood money.

My mind moves to Ramaphosa. And his pe­nis. Not lust­fully, but in a more con­tem­pla­tive fashion.

I’m not sur­prised about the week­end’s sex scan­dal. It was al­ways go­ing to hap­pen. Not be­cause Ramaphosa is try­ing to qui­etly out-cop­u­late the cur­rent in­cum­bent, but be­cause he’s hop­ing to re­place him as the ANC’s Num­ber One.

Scan­dal sea­son is upon us. As it was be­fore the nom­i­na­tions for the ANC’s 2007 Polok­wane con­fer­ence. And Man­gaung five years later.

The road to Polok­wane was paved with abuses of state or­gans. The in­tel­li­gence ser­vices left their fin­ger­prints all over the rape case against Ja­cob Zuma. Po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence got the cor­rup­tion case against him thrown out of court. Thabo Mbeki wrenched the levers of state power so hard try­ing to ma­nip­u­late the con­fer­ence out­come that he broke them. Got him­self a “don’t come Mon­day” in the process.

Man­gaung? Dif­fer­ent lah­nee, same story. Doc­tored in­tel­li­gence dossiers, re­ports, stitch-ups and false ar­rests. Po­ten­tial or­gan­is­ers for the other side slapped with cor­rup­tion charges in KwaZulu-Natal, the North­ern Cape and else­where. Girl­friends and skele­tons came fly­ing out of the cup­boards. By the time Gwede Man­tashe man­tashed in Man­gaung, the fix was al­ready in. Kgalema Mot­lanthe might as well have stayed at home.

The first sign that the grab­ber had been de­ployed again in 2017 came when Jeff Radebe stuck his neck out and men­tioned a run for the ANC pres­i­dency. Bad move, bra. Sud­denly, his re­quests for C.L.I.T. are head­lines. At least he didn’t send any nudes.

Branches have started nom­i­nat­ing Zweli Mkhize for ANC pres­i­dent. My money’s on him be­ing grab­bered next. Or ar­rested. Lindiwe Sisulu had thrown her hat in the ring. Hers will come once she gets any kind of branch or re­gional en­dorse­ment.

The muck­rak­ing is nasty, and it’s il­le­gal, but it’s a part of the ANC suc­ces­sion bat­tle. It is what it is. At least no­body’s get­ting killed. A few more months of this non­sense and grab­ber sea­son will be over.

I’m way more wor­ried about the Kalash­nikov bal­let play­ing it­self out in KwaZulu-Natal. When the po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence in the 1990s ended here, the sol­diers went to jail. The cats who gave the or­ders went to Par­lia­ment. The cul­ture of im­punity was never bro­ken. It just got more deeply in­grained. The killings that started last May are get­ting more fre­quent. Death is head­ing our way.

My phone rings. For­mer ANC Youth League sec­re­tary gen­eral Sindiso Ma­gaqa is dead. He and two other ANC coun­cil­lors were shot in an am­bush af­ter an ANC re­gional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meeting in Umz­imkhulu in July. He had been bat­tling for his life since.

I roll off the couch and reach for my lap­top. De­cem­ber sud­denly seems a long, long way away.

Grab­ber sea­son: Kgalema Mot­lanthe (right) never stood a chance against Ja­cob Zuma in Man­gaung in 2012. Photo: Made­lene Cronjé

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