THE ANC's internal dramas could make for an entertaining board game.
Roll the dice. It lands on 5. Move Khumbudzo Ntshavheni even closer to Cyril Ramaphosa, past Mondli Gungubele.
Roll again — 2. Move Naledi Pandor even further away from the president.
Roll: 1. Fire Bheki Cele or at least knock his hat off. If the dice settles on its sharp edge, it means you can start believing Vincent Magwenya, Cyril's spokesperson.
A 6 makes Gwede Mantashe show his middle finger to Cyril. And a 3 means Fikile Mbalula tries to knock Mantashe off his square.
Two sixes and you throw Paul Mashatile off the board. But you'll have to roll three sixes in a row before you can move Cyril anywhere.
The strongest words I've heard Ramaphosa say to a colleague were when he gave his deputy, Paul Mashatile, a kick up the backside last week for his story of a conspiracy to get rid of him.
Ramaphosa said at a press conference last weekend that he confronted Mashatile about the story. “I said to him: what's this? We are going to have other discussions." And then he added: “There is just no thought, no plan, no inkling whatsoever that something like that could be in the works."
In other words, you're talking unadulterated shit, comrade.
Cyril knows, and I know and you know, that Mashatile fabricated the conspiracy theory because he knew News24 was about to publish a second damning article about his dubious personal finances and extravagant lifestyle.
It's an old ANC tactic, one Jacob Zuma repeatedly used: when you're under pressure, invent some kind of attack on yourself to generate sympathy and discredit your accusers.
The relationship between Ramaphosa and his deputy couldn't be worse. Mashatile has made it very clear in recent months that he won't be a docile deputy president. He will actively undermine Ramaphosa and increasingly act as if he himself is the president, holding talks with business leaders behind Cyril's back and giving endless speeches across the country.
But unless Mashatile can thoroughly refute the allegations in the News24 reports with real, detailed evidence, there's a hell of a dent in his political standing.
Knowing Pieter du Toit of News24 and his investigative team, their reports are watertight, documented, and vetted by lawyers.
In the Gauteng ANC, it might not cost Mashatile much support because his extravagant lifestyle on a relatively small salary works in his favour. The attitude is, if a man like that becomes president, we can steal with greater licence ourselves.
But the broader national executive committee might handle him differently, maybe even haul him before the disciplinary committee.
There are rumoured to be more revelations about Mashatile. Can a man with so many scandals one day become president? Oh, sorry, I forgot about Zuma.
But other dogs are barking at the gates of the ANC paradise.
Mantashe recently flatly refused a direct order from Ramaphosa to sign an energy agreement with Denmark and the Netherlands. “Screw you, Cyril," was his attitude, and what are you going to do about it?
And here comes Mbalula, ANC secretary-general, demanding that Ramaphosa discipline Mantashe, even kick him out of the cabinet. “Mandela dismissed people in his cabinet for acting wayward. Mantashe would never do that under Mbeki or under Zuma," Mbalula told the Sunday Times.
He says Mantashe has “embarrassed" Ramaphosa and action must be taken against him. “He doesn't need Luthuli House to give him permission to act, he must act."
The only problem for Cyril is that these two gentlemen are his foremost political bodyguards, the two bulldogs who are supposed to fight for him in the ANC. And now the two mutts are fighting each other.
You see, they know Cyril might not be president for much longer, and Mashatile is under a cloud. Both Mantashe and Mbalula, as I hear, have ambitions to grab the highest position in the ANC and the country for themselves.
Busi & Dali
Here's another suspense: will Busisiwe Mkhwebane succeed in prolonging the investigations against her for another three months so she can retire and put her R10m bonus in the bank?
She and Dali Mpofu have been making a mockery of parliament and the judiciary for over a year with their political theatrics, delaying tactics and endless court proceedings.
Yesterday, the two lost again when the Constitutional Court found that the president's decision last year to suspend Busi from her office was valid and not irrational. The president did not benefit from the suspension and was not biased, according to the court.
Busi is now apparently refusing to answer the final questions the parliamentary committee has asked her in writing. This comes after she and Mpofu played all sorts of deceitful games about her access to state-funded lawyers.
The committee will have to make a decision on her suitability without having her answers to critical questions. And that means Busi and Dali will once again run to court if the decision goes against her — and there can be little doubt about that. And then to the appeals court, and then to the ConCourt.
Far beyond October, when her term expires.
Nelson and the sparrow
Here's something for your next trivia night: Who was David Motsamayi?
Here's a clue: he was a house servant and gardener in a blue overall who worked for a white family on a farm outside Johannesburg, a “houseboy", as he called himself.
Answer: that was the name Nelson Mandela used when he was in hiding on Lilliesleaf farm in Rivonia.
A leader of the Communist Party, Arthur Goldreich, and his family lived in the house, and Mandela stayed in the “servant's quarters".
Mandela recounted that one day he was walking in the garden with Goldreich's son, Paul, and shot down a sparrow with an air rifle. He wanted to boast about what a good shot he was when the five-year-old, with tears in his eyes, said to him, “David, why did you kill that bird? Its mother will be sad."
Mandela suddenly felt ashamed. “I felt that this small boy had far more humanity than I had. It was an odd sensation for a man who was the leader of a nascent guerrilla army," he later wrote.
Why am I telling this story now? Because exactly 60 years ago this week, on July 11, 1963, the security police raided Lilliesleaf and surprised and arrested most of the leaders of Umkhonto we Sizwe's High Command: Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada, Rusty Bernstein, Arthur Goldreich, Denis Goldberg and Bob Hepple.
Mandela was already in prison at that time — he was arrested on August 5, 1962, at a roadblock. Hepple, Goldreich and Wolpe escaped and left the country. The others, with Andrew Mlangeni and James Kantor, appeared in the Rivonia Trial with Mandela as Accused Number 1 and Sisulu as Number 2.
♦ VWB ♦
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