Political Notebook | The RET-EFF romance blossoms


Political Notebook | The RET-EFF romance blossoms

MAX DU PREEZ on Jacob Zuma's spokesperson who is now an EFF MP, Ukraine's rebuke of Putin loyalists in Africa, Tina Joemat-Pettersson's questionable legacy, and Pride Month.


IS THE courtship over, is the marriage between the ANC's old RET faction and the EFF now official, or are they just engaged?

Mzwanele Manyi, once an ANC stalwart and senior deployed cadre, previously helped establish the African Transformation Movement as a proxy for the RET faction. This week, he was sworn in as an EFF MP.

However, Manyi still manages the Jacob Zuma Foundation and serves as Zuma's spokesperson. Zuma's daughter, who lives with her father in Nkandla, highlighted the sentiment well on Twitter:

Now one wonders what the Gauteng comrades Paul Mashatile and Panyaza Lesufi, who support a coalition with the EFF, will make of this — especially Mashatile, who has consistently been an opponent of Zuma.

And what if the ousted former secretary-general of the ANC, Ace Magashule, also joins the EFF? Or other RET vagabonds like Carl Niehaus, whose new party, Areta, has risen like a lead balloon?

Manyi is a renowned charlatan, someone about whom Judge Raymond Zondo had some unpleasant things to say in his state capture report. 

I see Julius Malema, someone who understands the ANC better than most ANC leaders, having a subtle hand in these new moves. The RET faction still constitutes a significant part of the ANC, perhaps even a third of the party's support.

Is this how the EFF will ultimately break through the 10% ceiling — by gobbling up the RET faction?

Ukraine is like the old Frontline states

Ukraine's young foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, made a crucial point that will make Putin supporters in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa very uncomfortable.

In an interview with the Brenthurst Foundation's Greg Mills, he said he wants South Africans to understand that “what Russia does now towards Ukraine is exactly what the apartheid regime was doing against Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe — trying to turn them into satellites by force".

Apartheid South Africa's violent destabilisation in the 1980s of what were then called the Frontline states made Africa furious.

As a good diplomat, Kuleba welcomes the initiative of five African heads of state to visit Russia and Ukraine to seek a peaceful solution. “If anyone has ideas for an alternative peace proposal, this should respect two fundamental principles: it should not imply territorial concessions by Ukraine; and it should not lead to the ‘freezing' of the conflict.

“African nations would agree that if the war takes place in your territory and if you are attacked, then you have the right to define the fundamental principles of the settlement. It shouldn't be someone else who would impose these principles on you."

Kuleba says if South Africans' affinity for Russia is based on historical sentiments, it is misplaced: “This Russia is neither the Soviet Union nor the Russia that you used to know before last February. This is a different country." He pointed out that it was Ukraine that chaired the UN Special Committee against Apartheid.

Watch the full interview here:

Rest in peace, skelm Tina

It is true that one should be cautious in besmirching someone who has passed away, because that person is not there to defend themselves.

On the other hand, there is also an argument to be made that historiography is more important than any individual; that we cannot simply sing the praises of a public figure with a poor record just because they have died.

Tina Joemat-Pettersson was a disaster as a minister, a disciple of Zuma. Yet even the opposition praised her when she died this week.

But the record shows that she was the energy minister who, in 2014, went to Vienna to sign the controversial contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant with the Russian energy giant Rosatom. It would have cost South Africa hundreds of billions. She did this without public participation and outside the normal processes, and the contract was declared null and void by the high court in 2017.

She was also the minister under whom 10-million barrels of fuel were sold from the Strategic Fuel Fund in 2015 for much less than the prevailing oil price. This transaction was also later reversed by the high court.

Joemat-Pettersson was sharply criticised twice, in 2012 and 2014, by the former public protector when she was still the agriculture and fisheries minister. Zuma never took action against her as the public protector had requested.

We will soon find out whether she was indeed involved in an alleged bribery scandal, and whether this indeed led her to end her own life, as is now alleged.

Over the years, some of her critics believed the main reason she held such senior cabinet positions and was untouchable was the wealth and generosity of her husband, the Swedish businessman Thorval Pettersson, who died in 2006.

Dali’s only superpower

It was predictable that the journalist Karyn Maughan and prosecutor Billy Downer would succeed in their court application to dismiss Zuma's ridiculed attempt to privately prosecute them.

Another feather in Dali Mpofu's losing hat.

But he and Zuma undoubtedly knew it was a hopeless case, just like the attempt to have President Cyril Ramaphosa privately prosecuted for allegedly not intervening against Downer. It was never about the merits, only about delaying the process.

That is Mpofu's only superpower: he can prolong legal proceedings indefinitely to serve his client's interests. He will now appeal against the latest ruling, so it will be a long time before Zuma finally has his day in court after 20 years of delays.

Mpofu was equally successful with the parliamentary inquiry into the suspended public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The aim is evidently to delay the investigation until her term ends in October, allowing her to receive generous retirement benefits.

One is not immediately cynical when someone claims ANC parliamentarians tried to bribe someone, as is now being said about the Mkhwebane inquiry: chairman Richard Dyantyi, Joemat-Pettersson and two other committee members allegedly wanted bribe money from Mkhwebane's husband to undermine the investigation.

What makes the claim unbelievable is that they wanted only R600,000. That's not the ANC's style. I would have found it easier to believe if it were R6-million.

It seems like just another delay tactic.

One of the well-known EFF propagandists on social media had his tweet about this retweeted by Mpofu.


The Legal Practice Council objected to a statement that appeared in the English version of my article about Dali Mpofu's scandals. The contested sentence reads: “The deputy chief justice, Raymond Zondo, reprimanded him sharply but the Legal Practice Council apologised on his behalf."

The council is correct. It did not issue an apology on his behalf. I apologise for the error.

Not that I had it wrong in the original Afrikaans article. There, I used the word "verontskuldig". The translator should have used “exculpated" or “excused", not “apologised".

We will double-check the English translations in the future to prevent such mistakes.

Not so much Pride

It is International Pride Month, the occasion for the world to acknowledge and show solidarity with LGBTQI communities.

But things are not going well everywhere in South Africa. It now appears that the party of Johannesburg's mayor, Kabelo Gwamanda, is highly homophobic.

Al Jamah-ah's national spokesperson, Shameemah Salie, requested on behalf of the party that LGBTQI groups be denied any input in the parliamentary investigation into the state of the family in society. Here she is in conversation with Stephen Grootes of Newzroom Afrika:

The retail chain group Woolworths, which supports Pride Month, has also come under pressure from conservatives, reactionaries and homophobes who are threatening a boycott.

I was pleased to see Woolworths' response to this: “Every person has the right to dignity regardless of their identity — this is a fact enshrined in our constitution. It is not up for debate."

♦ VWB ♦

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