What did surprise, though, was that this time round it seemed so much more unhinged and surreal than ever before. Certainly, it was far more entertaining than the two hours of lowbrow “debate” we had just endured.
The celebrations started with a shower of phlegm from Fikile Mbalula, the small but shouty Minister of Police. Addressing the faithful outside the National Assembly, he roared away with the customary threat about the ANC staying in power forever more.
So far, so humdrum. Then came the dumb-dumb: “They want to come at us with camouflages!”
What was Mbalula on about? Who exactly were these devils in disguise? The DA? The EFF? The ANC MPs who did not vote to keep their jobs and their million-rand-a-year pay cheques?
Here at the Mahogany Ridge, the only notable we could see in camouflage was Carl Niehaus, the famous liar and alleged military veteran. He was standing behind Mbalula, and looked like one of those oafish Boeremag types at Eugene Terre Blanche’s AWB meetings in the 1980s.
Had there been a cigar jammed in his whiskered maw, Niehaus the Numpty could well have been mistaken for an early Cold War cartoon of a tubby Fidel Castro.
Admittedly, he does have a unique way with a military uniform. Because his take on reality is so altered, so otherwise, Niehaus is that rare man of action who believes a web belt should be fastened above the navel. Even ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe knows the full heft of a boep is best hung over a straining belt.
Which brings us, sadly, to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Lost in the throes of a toyi-toying, she managed to pull off a half-way decent impersonation of a bouncing castle full of preschoolers on a sugar rush. Social grant recipients would rest more easily at night if she went about her job with a fraction of the enthusiasm on display here.
Then came the man himself, who muttered some nonsense about taking money when people want to give it away, before slipping into some shuffling song and dance throwback to those fabled nights in the bush around the camp-fire so many years ago.
Then he was off, no doubt to plot a terrible revenge against those ANC MPs who had defied the party and supported the motion of no confidence.
The commentariat remains divided about Tuesday’s events. Some analysts suggest the outcome of the secret ballot was a win-win situation for the opposition; the ruling party was clearly divided, and the cracks in its foundation were widening.
Public law professor Richard Calland even described the vote as a “watershed” for the party; the first time in eight motions of no confidence in Jacob Zuma that the ANC had not stood united behind their president.
By backing a corrupt president, the ruling party had committed itself to defeat at the polls in 2019. If, as Julius Malema suggested, quoting an African proverb, an elephant was best eaten “bit by bit”, then Dumbo was self-basting itself and now limping about on three legs.
But other commentators felt the ANC’s victory may not have been as pyrrhic as some have suggested. Gwen Ngwenya, of the Institute of Race Relations, has dismissed the narrative that Zuma is weakened and the ANC divided, as fanciful. That 80% of the party’s parliamentary caucus back the president, she claims, is a resounding vote of support.
There are reports a witch hunt could be on the cards, as ANC heavyweights are threatening, to punish “treasonous” MPs. As one regional chairman put it, “This behaviour and tendency should be stopped. You cannot have members colluding with our enemy. This was a wake-up call and structures of the movement need to deal with these tendencies.”
The great fear is that the party knows who those MPs are - and probably knew even before voting on the motion of no confidence began. Which says something about secret ballots.
Remarkably, quoting “ANC sources”, ANN7, the Saxonwold Shebeen’s channel, reported before voting began, that at least 35 ruling party MPs would break ranks and not oppose the motion. They were right; 26 voted in favour, and nine abstained.
* Andrew Donaldson’s A Famous Grouse column appears in the Independent Media print titles every Saturday.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.