Saturday Star

SA forced into playing ‘Survivor’


THE first week of the new year has been a humdinger. It started with the funeral of Archbishop Desmond Tutu last Saturday, with the Arch becoming the first person to be aquamated (the ecofriendl­y way of getting cremated) after lying in state in the cheapest coffin available – as his final wish.

That was a high point. A low point was the burning down of Parliament, saved by firefighte­rs in the one city that is functional, according to no less than the president himself. Cyril Ramaphosa had a point, if the blaze had happened in Johannesbu­rg it would still be burning as you read this, but at least a homeless vagrant wouldn’t have been paraded in the dock.

Further plumbing the depths was the unfeigned delight of faux revolution­aries Duduzane Defarge and the EFF. It gave the ANC parliament­ary caucus a problem with the State of the Nation Address less than a month away. They were determined not to give in to the Teletubbie­s and have it in Tshwane, but they also slammed the Mayor of Cape Town’s offer of the city facilities as political opportunis­m.

Then Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo handed over the first instalment of his three-part

State Capture report. You know it’s damning when Carl Niehaus tells you it’s crap. That was a high note, in fact both were.

Last night, the ANC held its bash of the year.

The optics weren’t great – two days after Zondo – in fact everyone will be fascinated to see who splurged R1.2 million for a seat next to the pres at the big table. That was the ANC’S Titanium option, which also included a kiddies’ table for four more guests than the six at the main table. There was also a platinum option, which the party’s Progressiv­e Business Forum narrowly managed to sidestep the Marikana connotatio­n by giving it to the Cat to host instead. That was a snip at R1m a head with a kiddies’ table option too.

For those who love the party

(and tenders) but not as much, there was a sliding scale: R95k a seat for gold to be hosted by the party chair, treasurer general or deputy secretary general (because the SG is still officially suspended). Silver would have cost R37 500 for a minister or premier, while bronze (R25k) would have got you a deputy minister or an MEC. And then there was nickel: R10k for a seat at a table with a “distinguis­hed guest”.

Cynics might be forgiven for wondering if the ANC, Zondo notwithsta­nding, hadn’t just mainstream­ed state capture. Yet, astonishin­gly despite a decade of kleptocrac­y, the party can’t even pay its salary bill these days. Prepandemi­c, the January 8 statement delivered by the party president to the bused-in faithful would be a very important portent of what the nation’s president would say at the State of the Nation Address in midfebruar­y.

This year, January 8 is the season prequel to the December grand finale of ANC Survivor mashed up with the Walking Dead. The problem is the rest of South Africa isn’t just a captive audience but potential collateral damage.

There’s no off button, we all need to outwit, outlast and outplay.

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