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We 'vanilla thrillers' also marched, but to what end?

Opinion
It won’t take much for the ANC to lose its parliamentary majority, and those breakaways could then find themselves in the pound seats, writes Andrew Donaldson.

Frantic activity at the Mahogany Ridge on Thursday evening as the regulars worked on their posters for the march. Perhaps it was the drink, but we came up with some real peaches:

“Dear Zuptas, it’s not you, it’s us. Ha-ha, only kidding. It is you. Very much so.” “Jacob eats puppies! And kittens!” “Where’s the cake?” “Does this a*** make my country look small?” “I am really quite cross!”

Look, it may not have achieved much – if there ever was the remotest possibility that marches would make a difference, they’d be outlawed – but, hey, that’s just the way the middle-classes like to roll. Which is not very often, but when we do, well, there we were, in our tens of thousands

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Protesters outside the National Treasury offices in Pretoria protesting against President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Bongani Shilubane

Our children have been laughing at us, the ingrates, and posting articles on our Facebook pages like “Protesting 101 for White People”. Snarky advice about singing Kumbaya and the proper clothes to wear.

The little s****, they forget that we grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, where you really did get beaten at demonstrations. And beaten very hard.

After which we settled down to our chosen careers so they could loll around, waited on hand and foot for 20-odd years – only to have them now lecture us about white privilege and what have you.

We digress. Commentators have pointed out that marches are effectively useless, and that change will only come through the ballot box.

How right they are. But, apart from allowing us to vent our fury, protests do serve a useful purpose: They annoy the ruling party intensely – and that is immensely satisfying.

It’s a given the ANC is notoriously thin-skinned when it comes to criticism. Those of a fascist bent are, and the goon squad violence around Luthuli House bore testimony to that.

But, even as I write, there are reports of protesters massing outside the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, demanding the family make a sexual departure most pronto. That shebeen, surely, is falling.

More supposedly sober voices predicted that working-class South Africans would not be turning out on Friday because these “vanilla thrillers”, as one of our brats dubbed it, do not “connect with the masses”.

They add that it is only up to those ANC members who oppose the Zupta machine, only they are capable of stopping the rot. But after that supine display from the National Working Committee, it would appear that the Zuptas have effectively dealt with their opponents, the so-called decent members in the party.

Which brings us to this disturbing narrative that has emerged, particularly in the memorial services for the revered stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada, and that is we must save the ANC by removing Zuma.

Frankly, the ANC is beyond redemption. It’s riven in two. One half, the ANC of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, belongs in a museum. The other half, the ANC of the “military veterans” and the middle-aged youth league, should be stuck in a circus side-show tent.

The public would pay handsomely, for example, to see the social development minister, Bathabile Dlamini. Poke her through the bars of the cage, she may even dribble on about her victory in the Constitutional Courts, or how former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was a vampire of white-monopoly capitalism who bit the heads off babies, etc, etc.

Back in the real world, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has turned down a request for voting on the April 18 motion of no confidence against the president to be conducted by secret ballot.

The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa has threatened to go to court over the issue, arguing that the threatened reprisals against ANC MPs who may break ranks make this necessary.

He may be right. So far, there have been seven failed motions of no confidence against Zuma. At the most recent one, in November, 58 ANC MPs including Gordhan did not vote. Was that how they suffered a crisis of conscience?

If they and other MPs broke rank now and voted for the motion, what sort of reprisals would they suffer? Expulsion from the party? Kicked out of Parliament?

I believe a great deal of horse-trading between opposition parties and the conscience-stricken ANC members has gone down behind the scenes. It won’t take much for the ANC to lose its parliamentary majority, and those breakaways could then find themselves in the pound seats.

Weekend Argus

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