Frans­man and Zuma the epit­ome of bad taste

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

IT WAS good to see the trou­bled Mar­ius Frans­man on the cam­paign trail with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma on Thurs­day as it gave us much to dwell on here at the Ma­hogany Ridge.

For a start, there was the ques­tion of Frans­man’s cur­rent sta­tus in the rul­ing party. He ap­par­ently be­lieves he has been al­lowed to come in from the cold and he’s back as pro­vin­cial chair­man.

This after ap­par­ently be­ing told to stand down two weeks ago by the party’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment against him by Louisa Wy­nand on a road trip to at­tend the ANC’s 104th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in Rusten­burg in Jan­uary. Police are re­port­edly still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter.

Last we heard of it, Frans­man was all bit­ter­bek about his shaft­ing – es­pe­cially as he’d first learnt of it in a City Press re­port. He im­me­di­ately re­sponded with an in­dig­nant pub­lic state­ment, the con­tents of which in­di­cate it would per­haps have been wiser to have paused for thought be­fore putting pen to pa­per:

“It is with em­phatic ap­pal that I have learned to­day from the me­dia some of the con­tent of the ap­par­ent find­ings of the ANC’s in­tegrity com­mit­tee in the mat­ter of an un­sub­stan­ti­ated sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint against me‚ with­out hav­ing re­ceived any no­ti­fi­ca­tion what­so­ever from the com­mit­tee my­self. (sic)

“Such out­ra­geous breach of ANC pro­to­col and prin­ci­ple clearly brings the ANC into dis­re­pute and se­ri­ously tar­nishes the im­age of the ANC.”

Any­way, and much to the sur­prise of re­porters present, here was Frans­man in Philippi with Zuma, full of hu­mil­ity and suit­ably grun­tled, guff­ing on about united fronts, tak­ing the bat­tle to the next level, sta­bil­is­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion and what have you.

Frans­man’s pres­ence there was no mis­take, ac­cord­ing to Wa­ter Af­fairs and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane. “He is back in the ANC as the chair… the is­sues have been re­solved,” said she who had once vowed to de­fend her pres­i­dent with her but­tocks.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to ANC gen­eral sec­re­tary Gwede Man­tashe and na­tional spokesman Zizi Kodwa, the party has not yet made a rul­ing on the mat­ter. In fact, Man­tashe said, Frans­man has still to ap­pear be­fore the party’s dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee. So, is he in or out? Who knows? The more cyn­i­cal among the Ridge reg­u­lars be­lieve it would be es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing if Frans­man was back on the job. And most pronto. The elec­tions, after all, are around the cor­ner, and there has been much spec­u­la­tion on what fur­ther dam­age this master strate­gist can in­flict upon the ANC. Then – and there is no del­i­cate way of broach­ing the sub­ject – there were those hideous match­ing leather jack­ets worn by Zuma and Frans­man.

When the party launched its Ja­cob Zuma-in­spired col­lec­tion of branded jack­ets in 2010, the re­ac­tion from a scorn­ful fash­ion world was unan­i­mous: they looked as if they had been put to­gether by a com­mit­tee. The green and gold el­e­ments of the party colours were taken to what the BBC de­scribed as “neon ex­tremes, which look as though they would glow in the dark”. One de­signer said, “I don’t think any­body younger than 40 would wear that, out of fear of be­ing ridiculed.”

It is said the jack­ets, with their gaudy epaulettes, camp cuffs and naff zip­pers, are highly prized by col­lec­tors of po­lit­i­cal kitsch. In 2011, for ex­am­ple, the then-min­ing min­is­ter, Su­san Sha­bangu, paid R400 000 for Zuma’s “Pres­i­dent No 1” jacket at a fundrais­ing auc­tion. (In truth, though, she’s more a Zumaphant than a col­lec­tor.)

That par­tic­u­lar model, with its green and yel­low “rac­ing stripes”, was enough to earn Zuma a place – along with such fash­ion plates as North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, Chile’s Au­gusto Pinochet, Libya’s Muam­mar Gaddafi and Cuba’s Fidel Cas­tro – on Time’s list of the 10 worst-dressed world lead­ers in re­cent his­tory.

The mag­a­zine re­ported the “neon no-no” jacket “turned heads – in the op­po­site di­rec­tion”. Given the universal dis­plea­sure, you’d think the ANC would have al­lowed the jack­ets to qui­etly fade from mem­ory. As it is, the of­fen­sive range seems to have been dropped from the ANC’s web­site.

But no, look­ing as if they’d just fallen off the bridge of the Star­ship En­ter­prise, here was our com­man­derin-chief and his fawn­ing lieu­tenant, both in their Pres­i­dent No 1s.

An un­happy co­in­ci­dence? Or a de­lib­er­ate vi­o­la­tion against good taste? You be the judge, etc.

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