SA takes con­fi­dence in evening of no con­fi­dence

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE dis­play of tri­umphal­ism fol­low­ing the de­feat of the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the fa­ther of Ed­ward and Duduzane, as Ac­cused Num­ber One is now known, was not un­ex­pected, and yes, typ­i­cal of such oc­ca­sions, it was crude and vul­gar.

What did sur­prise, though, was that this time round it seemed so much more un­hinged and sur­real than ever be­fore. Cer­tainly, it was far more en­ter­tain­ing than the two hours of low­brow “de­bate” we had just en­dured.

The cel­e­bra­tions started with a shower of phlegm from Fik­ile Mbalula, the small but shouty Min­is­ter of Po­lice. Ad­dress­ing the faith­ful out­side the Na­tional As­sem­bly, he roared away with the cus­tom­ary threat about the ANC stay­ing in power for­ever more.

So far, so hum­drum. Then came the dumb-dumb: “They want to come at us with cam­ou­flages!”

What was Mbalula on about? Who ex­actly were these devils in dis­guise? The DA? The EFF? The ANC MPs who did not vote to keep their jobs and their mil­lion-rand-a-year pay cheques?

Here at the Ma­hogany Ridge, the only no­table we could see in cam­ou­flage was Carl Niehaus, the famous liar and al­leged mil­i­tary vet­eran. He was stand­ing be­hind Mbalula, and looked like one of those oafish Bo­eremag types at Eu­gene Terre Blanche’s AWB meet­ings in the 1980s.

Had there been a cigar jammed in his whiskered maw, Niehaus the Numpty could well have been mis­taken for an early Cold War car­toon of a tubby Fidel Cas­tro.

Ad­mit­tedly, he does have a unique way with a mil­i­tary uni­form. Be­cause his take on re­al­ity is so al­tered, so other­wise, Niehaus is that rare man of ac­tion who be­lieves a web belt should be fas­tened above the navel. Even ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe knows the full heft of a boep is best hung over a strain­ing belt.

Which brings us, sadly, to So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini. Lost in the throes of a toy­i­toy­ing, she man­aged to pull off a half-way de­cent im­per­son­ation of a bounc­ing cas­tle full of preschool­ers on a sugar rush. So­cial grant re­cip­i­ents would rest more eas­ily at night if she went about her job with a frac­tion of the en­thu­si­asm on dis­play here.

Then came the man him­self, who mut­tered some non­sense about tak­ing money when peo­ple want to give it away, be­fore slip­ping into some shuf­fling song and dance throwback to those fabled nights in the bush around the camp-fire so many years ago.

Then he was off, no doubt to plot a ter­ri­ble re­venge against those ANC MPs who had de­fied the party and sup­ported the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence.

The com­men­tariat re­mains di­vided about Tues­day’s events. Some an­a­lysts sug­gest the out­come of the se­cret bal­lot was a win-win sit­u­a­tion for the op­po­si­tion; the rul­ing party was clearly di­vided, and the cracks in its foun­da­tion were widen­ing.

Pub­lic law pro­fes­sor Richard Cal­land even de­scribed the vote as a “wa­ter­shed” for the party; the first time in eight mo­tions of no con­fi­dence in Ja­cob Zuma that the ANC had not stood united be­hind their pres­i­dent.

By back­ing a cor­rupt pres­i­dent, the rul­ing party had com­mit­ted it­self to de­feat at the polls in 2019. If, as Julius Malema sug­gested, quot­ing an African proverb, an ele­phant was best eaten “bit by bit”, then Dumbo was self­bast­ing it­self and now limp­ing about on three legs.

But other com­men­ta­tors felt the ANC’s vic­tory may not have been as pyrrhic as some have sug­gested. Gwen Ng­wenya, of the In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions, has dis­missed the nar­ra­tive that Zuma is weak­ened and the ANC di­vided, as fan­ci­ful. That 80% of the party’s par­lia­men­tary cau­cus back the pres­i­dent, she claims, is a re­sound­ing vote of sup­port.

There are re­ports a witch hunt could be on the cards, as ANC heavy­weights are threat­en­ing, to pun­ish “trea­sonous” MPs. As one re­gional chair­man put it, “This be­hav­iour and ten­dency should be stopped. You can­not have mem­bers col­lud­ing with our en­emy. This was a wake-up call and struc­tures of the move­ment need to deal with these ten­den­cies.”

The great fear is that the party knows who those MPs are – and prob­a­bly knew even be­fore vot­ing on the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence be­gan. Which says some­thing about se­cret bal­lots.

Re­mark­ably, quot­ing “ANC sources”, ANN7, the Sax­on­wold She­been’s chan­nel, re­ported be­fore vot­ing be­gan, that at least 35 rul­ing party MPs would break ranks and not op­pose the mo­tion. They were right; 26 voted in favour, and nine ab­stained.

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