Johannesburg - It was Sigmund Freud who famously said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar after scarring generations of children from sticking things in their mouths. The father of psychotherapy also gifted us the concept of the Freudian slip, a verbal gaffe that actually reveals the truth of what we were thinking of instead of what we wanted to say.
All of which, of course, renders ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe’s utterances on the party’s inability to raise funds to pay its staff compelling. Staff were actually threatening to interdict the ANC from going ahead with its conference last week. Instead, they embarked on a go-slow.
Speaking at the ANC’s gala dinner – which should also have been a major fundraiser - last Wednesday, he told SABC TV news: “The ANC is not a bank robber. The ANC relies on donations. If the ANC was running a cash-in-transit heist, then it would say: ‘No, we know the robberies we are going to be conducting in the next two months will give us enough’.
“The ANC depends on the people. It is the trust of those people, and once we enjoy it, once the people renew their love, trust and confidence in the ANC and start to reinvest their resources, we will be able to sustain this organisation of Nelson Mandela.”
Perhaps he intended his questions as rhetorical flights of fancy, but maybe Mabe and his comrades will start getting their answers as soon as the General Elections in 2024 on whether the people have renewed their “love, trust and confidence”.
As for the analogy with bank robberies, it’s hard to argue against the tenderpreneurial ravaging of the state and the plethora of State-Owned Enterprises in the last couple of decades. The institutionalised kleptocracy of 10 years of State Capture under JZ took some masterful planning too. The week of looting and pillaging of KZN 13 months ago makes the violence of cash-in-transit heists pale into almost insignificance.
Much like relying on the Department of Public Works to upgrade Nkandla, the ANC’s mistake was not to make it mandatory for the tenderpreneurs to tithe back their ill-gotten gains but instead believed in the milk of human kindness and the generosity of the kleptocrats. The picket lines outside Luthuli House are as much mute testimony to that approach as the cracks in the fire pool and the leaks in uBaba’s reception rooms are.
Say what you like about bank robberies and C-I-T heists, they’ve had better returns for their perpetrators than what actually belonging to the ANC seems to have done for the rank and file.
Meanwhile, on the absolute edge of Nasrec, if not the known world, there was the spectacle of Carl Niehaus, a suspended ANC staffer himself, among other achievements, bravely conducting his own one-man anti-Ramaphosa protest.
Carl is already in dire danger of becoming an internet meme for his antics; his choice of podium plastered with erection enhancement ads made the picture (that Niehaus himself posted) a mass campaign all in itself.
A Freudian slip by any other name?