SOON after Julius Malema was elected leader of the ANC Youth League in April 2008, the league put out a statement celebrating the suspension of the then CEO of the SABC, Dali Mpofu.
It was long overdue, said the league. Mpofu "ran down the SABC like a spaza shop and brought its credibility, image and reputation into disrepute ".
Ha ha ha.
My advice to Malema and his new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, now that Mpofu has announced he is leaving the ANC to join the EFF, is at least to keep the safe locked, even if, as always in politics, all is forgiven once you’re on the same side.
Mpofu can go through money like a knife through butter.
I’ll never forget, though for the life of me I can’t track them down, the full-page adverts he used to take out in the Sunday papers at the time he was CEO to denounce his critics in the press. They must have cost a fortune.
And there was a certain hysterical quality, I remember, in the adverts.
The ability to say sincerely whatever you like, regardless of evidence or reason — Cyril Ramaphosa will know exactly what I mean now that Mpofu, at the Marikana hearings, has insinuated that he had something to do with the cold-blooded shooting of 34 striking miners by the police — will be most useful to the EFF, which has a lot of broad-brush blood-curdling threats to get out in the next few months before the 2014 elections.
I’m considering, by the way, making a modest book on the date of the elections. I reckon the ANC is so nervous about the results it’ll wait as long as possible. That would be mid-July 2014. Of course, the sooner they hold the election the less worse they’ll do, but realising that and acting on it requires a clarity of thought and purpose in the party that for the moment just doesn’t seem present.
Working out how the parties will perform is nothing but guesswork and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply lying. At a best guess, the ANC will win 59% (65.9% last time), the DA 22% (16.7%), the EFF 4% and Mamphela Ramphele’s Agang SA 3%. Bantu Holomisa may have to throw his lot in with either the EFF or Agang SA. I suspect it would be the latter.
After the election, much will change. The current idea is that Ramaphosa becomes a sort of prime minister to President Jacob Zuma, who retreats a little into the background. That implies that Ramaphosa would have an unusually strong hand in picking a Cabinet. But there is opposition, particularly from Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal, to Ramaphosa ever ascending to the Presidency. For one thing, he does not speak the language well, Zulu-speaking reporters tell me.
But if the ANC is to avoid a catastrophe in 2019 then it needs a much more technocratic Cabinet as soon as possible, and Ramaphosa is obviously the guy to lead that. Tangible results are what the ANC needs to show people and that means decisions have to be made, fast, about almost everything. And they need to be acted upon so that people can see and touch the results.
President Zuma is by now almost completely incapacitated in the implementation of policy, so many favours does he owe to so many people and constituencies. Someone else just has to run the actual business of government. As it is, the air at ANC headquarters will be thick with intrigue for the rest of the decade as people manoeuvre to replace, if not oust Zuma, à la Thabo Mbeki. A 59% poll result next year would be very dangerous to JZ.
And just as change presses on all sides of the ANC, so does it on the DA. Critics who once worked their fingers to the bone for the party now lash it for losing its liberalism, for dabbling with heresies like BEE and quotas.
DA leader Helen Zille is quiet on these issues for she knows better than to provoke a public spat with people with unfettered media access. But, slowly, there is no question that the party is changing its tone. The face of this change isn’t Patricia de Lille or Lindiwe Mazibuko. It is the young Gautenger, Mmusi Maimane, who is storming around the province as you imagine Barack Obama conducted his early politics, drawing some truly authentic admiration in the process.
My guess is that Zille would be most reluctant to try to stop him or to "oversee" him even though he may be changing the party line.
The only Sunday paper to run a picture of the really impressive crowd Maimane addressed in Soweto on Saturday was Rapport. The others rather played it down, I thought.
Now why would they do that?