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JOHANNESBURG — The correlation in politics around the globe is sometimes seen but not heard. And it takes the likes of satirical columnist Simon Lincoln Reader to draw on them. He gives a soft warning to South Africa’s official opposition not to fall into the trap of: “becoming a movement based on reaction, consider yourself too proud to scrap in the gutter, do not lead so much as respond.” Because if the DA does, the organisation may just end up in the uncomfortable position of staring at nothing but the two cheeks of its own bottom. Did someone say Theresa May and that long, drawn out divorce saga called Brexit? Simon fleshes out more post election commentary before digging into that much tainted list the ANC drew up for its members of parliament. As always an entertaining read. – Stuart Lowman
By Simon Lincoln Reader*
When it was announced that BizNews.com’s Linda van Tilburg was interviewing Jessie Duarte at the ROC, I immediately feared she’d be stabbed. Happily I was wrong. Instead Linda managed to extract what was arguably one of this election’s best interviews from a notorious woman whose antipathy toward journalists and critics is legendary. I was particularly impressed that Linda’s scope extended beyond the election into Jessie’s ambitious rap sheet. To the latter’s uncharacteristically mild disposition, couple the fact that Ace Magashule’s blusterous threats of legal action against “Gangster State” author Pieter-Louis Myburgh have amounted to nothing. The smart money would hint at a gathering storm.
I’m not jeering the DA’s decline. For all its absence of ideas (which is what the ZACP bought to these elections), or the perpetuation of the occasional bad one, this party has always produced the kind of official you knew would perform more-or-less to the traditional expectations of public service – what it lacks in excitement, it compensates for in commitment, its greatest strength revealed through an admirable record in the inelegant politics of municipal administration.
Barack Obama’s first term coincided with the ascent of Mmusi Maimane’s star. The world then was a vastly different one – a curious evenness as both the left and right stared in astonishment into the pit of greed vacated by the financial elite. During this era Mmusi became enamoured with Barack, and soon little distinguished soundbite from soundbite.
But fluff only sticks to the navel. Atavism prevailed – natural divisions deepened by the uncontrollable advances of technology, opinions being based on what is read – and the speed at which it is delivered – more than instinct. This is where we are now.
When moderation is at risk, the worst thing you can do is try be more moderate. The DA’s call not to risk sacking Mmusi on the basis of symbolism – i.e getting rid of a black leader – suggests that support will continue to bleed for at least the next year, maybe two.
The party needs a street fighter. The only leader in the DA who is capable of enhancing its position whilst emphasising its strengths is presently sitting in his office in Johannesburg, doing the kind of job for the City of Johannesburg most (if not all) present ANC apparatchiks simply could not.
Unlike Jacob Zuma, the growing demands for Theresa May’s resignation are not based on moral infractions, so watching her stumble toward the inevitable is painful, each hour a grasping twitch closer to the unenviable title of being the least popular British Prime Minister in recent memory (an April YouGov poll revealed Margaret Thatcher as the most popular Prime Minister post WW2).
Her supporters will claim Theresa inherited a curse: her critics will argue that she was robotic and unimaginative. In June 2016, there was potential for this once revered party to again boast the monopoly on the best ideas of public life. But under Theresa the party went the civil service way, appointing hopelessly inadequate people like James Brokenshire and David Lidington to senior cabinet positions whilst submitting to some of the progressive bumpf that has emerged from the opposition benches in the Jeremy Corbyn years.
Her fortunes are a stark reminder to the DA: be a movement based on reaction, consider yourself too proud to scrap in the gutter, do not lead so much as respond – and quickly you will find yourself in an uncomfortable position, staring at nothing but the two cheeks of your own bottom.
Speaking of bottoms, this week ends in despair: Mosebenzi Zwane and Faith Muthambi look set to return to Parliament. Not Ebrahim Patel though, who – for all his delusions of East German economics – is reasonable, approachable and, by comparison, not irreversibly crooked.
The ANC has been swift to respond, its supporters pointing to the pending arrival of the grandson of HF Verwoerd to Parliament in the FF+, as if to say: “its not a perfect world”. Ye Gods.
So too have some of EFF lunatics condemned Dr. Wynand Boshoff, declaring there will be “a special welcome” for him. Now, I don’t know Wynand, but I did not once see his name mentioned in i) any of the multiple SABC controversies, ii) the Vrede dairy scandal or iii) VBS looting. Furthermore, as far as I can recall, he was never a director of On Point Engineering, nor has he ever seditiously emailed members of the Gupta family confidential information he was not entitled to. None of his party colleagues has ever suggested he should go to jail*.
Faith and Mosebenzi are the sum of the nine wasted years in a kind of breathing form, aided by a mechanical arm movement, swinging food to mouth between grunt and shuffle. Now rewarded for their attempts to destroy people’s lives, they are unpleasant, incompetent, corrupt and probably evil too – in China or Saudi Arabia, supposedly our allies, expedited investigations would have long concluded: it’s anyone’s guess as to whether either would be around.
*In 2018, ANC MP Lerumo Lakako agreed that Faith Muthambi must go to prison when it was confirmed she had lied to the parliamentary ad-hoc committee.
- Simon Lincoln Reader lives in London.