Ed Herbst: ‘A good story to tell’ – defining the ANC’s SA in quotes

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

JOHANNESBURG — There’s never a dull day in this land we call South Africa. You could probably fill a number of newspaper broadsheets, on an hourly basis, with interesting (and weird) things people say here. Subsequently, Ed Herbst is at his best again as he’s put together a series of interesting recent quotes by prominent South Africans. It almost reads like the real ‘State of the Nation’. And he’s promising more quotes in future. Strap yourself in and take a read of the below… – Gareth van Zyl

By Ed Herbst*

Movie buffs are familiar with the genre – The Return of the Son of Satan – the Sequel – Part III.

In real life it does not work that way and for seven long years we have been waiting for Alexander Parker and Zapiro to provide a follow-up to that wonderful book, 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa.

It lined up, in serried ranks and in alphabetic order, fifty of the country’s leading oxygen thieves.

Some of them have waved goodbye to the gene pool but none of these Dearly Departed, I am sure, have joined the heavenly choir to sing the final chorus in the final hymn in that place beyond the Styx where no shadows fall.

The others plague us even now and without respite

It is, of course, extraordinarily remiss of Parker and Zapiro not to have provided us with a sequel because we have a cesspit full of currently potential candidates.

To fill the gap I have decided to provide quotes gleaned from online articles to give us a local version of Kate Bolduan’s State of America programme on CNN.

Here’s ten to start with.

There will be, I promise you, a sequel.

President Jacob Zuma

… the country is in a recession (Zuma’s second in eight years), unemployment has spiked at its highest rate ever (27.7%) and business confidence is at a nine-year low. Social grants have increased by a whopping 328% in 15 years while real jobs have grown by less than one-tenth of that (24%). Every credit rating agency has downgraded our debt and we are just one notch from the credit junkyard. You have to wonder in which universe Zuma lives and which planet he orbits to conclude he is doing “very well”. – Tony Leon The Times 28/6/2016

Kgalema Motlanthe

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe proposed a toast and told the half-empty stadium that if they did not have champagne, they could take photographs of their leaders drinking, or raise clenched fists.

“The leaders will now enjoy the champagne, and of course they do so on your behalf through their lips,” he said. – 1,000s leave stadium before end of Zuma’s speech News 24 8/1/2012

The trouble with your rhetoric, Lieutenant General Phahlane, lies in a cursory but depressing examination of recent history. The woman on whose behalf you are acting, Riah Phiyega, has been suspended for nearly 18 months and labelled a perjurer. Her predecessor, Bheki Cele, was declared “unfit for office” and fired. His predecessor, Jackie Selebi, was jailed for corruption.

After all, the ANC plot twists have been so surreal, for so long, not even the Brothers Grimm could have concocted them. – Editorial The Times 23/3/2016

What do you think the ANC is, Father Christmas? I don’t know where this notion comes from that we are a collection of individuals who have conscience. We are members of ANC in a party political system. – Gwede Mantashe News 24 5/4/2016

We have had close to a billion rand’s worth of infrastructure burnt at our universities in the last 18 months, and yet not a single person has been arrested and convicted. How many places in the world do you know which would allow such a situation to exist? We have to fix the crisis in policing and prosecution. – Adam Habib Politicsweb 4/10/2016

Our government has been getting more and more distant from human rights. You don’t hear them talking a human rights language any more. We’re getting to a stage where leaders are regarded as more important than the sufferings of the people. I don’t know the ANC at all now. It’s not the ANC that I knew. – Former Constitutional Court judge, Zak Yacoob, in ‘So Many Questions’ with Chris Barron, Sunday Times 12/3/2017

The Constitutional Court of South Africa – custodian of the independent judiciary

when I first came back and I started looking for a job, I remember going for an interview — I won’t say which company — and the lady said to me: “You’re very qualified for this job, but you’re not dark enough. I know you’re coloured, but you’re not dark enough.”  And she said: “You see that lady sitting there?” And it was a white lady sitting there at reception. “She doesn’t even know her job’s gone, because we need to replace her with someone darker.” – Theatre impresario Farrah Fortune talking to Ruda Landman 13/3/2017

Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla

The fact that she has no qualms about using the abomination that is Nkandla is a huge problem. It leads us to wonder about her judgment. She has allowed herself to be corralled into Zuma’s spider’s web. – Barney Mthombothi Sunday Times 5/3/2017

Mosebenzi Zwane

How wonderful to see Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his deputy collecting a Porsche Cayenne and a Mercedes, costing twice the amount Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had requested they spend on cars, the day before the austerity budget was presented. Has no one told them that RDP does not stand for Rape, Devour and Pillage? – John Simpson The Times 27/2/2017

Obed Bapela

Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela said at the launch of the (Traditional Courts) bill that equality for women would be “encouraged, not enforced”. – Dr Aninka Claassens Sunday Times 29/1/2017

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.