How to appear presidential after a disaster in Gangstas’ Paradise – bling your A-game in a Mandela shirt

How to appear presidential after a disaster in Gangstas’ Paradise – bling your A-game in a Mandela shirt
Panyaza Lesufi. (Illustration: Midjourney AI prompt: J Adamson. Photo: Oupa Bopape / Gallo Images)

You definitely are what you wear, especially as the Very First Citizen of Gangstas’ Paradise, and so he needed something that would convey the right message, however subtle, as he was making his great announcement.

The Very Important Politician Pantypad Lesushi, the premier of Gangstas’ Paradise (GP), was trying to work out which one of his 400 Mandela shirts to wear today.

He was going to have to announce an official inquiry by a retired judge into the deaths of 77 (or was it 76?) people in a fire that raged through a hijacked building in Johannesburg, once the richest city in the land, and he wanted to make sure he looked right.

He couldn’t wear the blue Mandela shirt, because then people might think he was signalling some kind of rapprochement with the DA, a party he despised and hated because they (a) were half white, and (b) kept pointing out how his party, the ANC, had completely and utterly failed the people of Johannesburg.

And he couldn’t wear the red one because then people might be reminded of his alliance with the EFF, a party of faux socialists who liked to dress up and pretend to be fighting on behalf of the endlessly suffering people of GP. Just because Lesushi’s party was also in alliance with actual gangstas didn’t mean one should draw attention to this fact.

Actually, he thought as he posed before the mirror, holding the red Mandela shirt in one hand and the blue one in the other, it’s rather ironic – the DA just voted, alongside the ANC, to increase city councillors’ salaries. Ha ha.

How to get one’s foes, usually at daggers drawn, especially since they were stabbed in the back by the Gangsta Party, to vote for what we want!

And those bigmouth flip-floppers from the EFF, well, they’d voted against the salary increase! Ha ha again.

They knew perfectly well that if the ANC and the DA, the biggest parties in the city government, voted together, they, in the EFF, would get the salary increase anyway – so it was perfectly safe to make a big noise about voting against it.

Ah, thought Lesushi, the EFF was maturing as a party.

The trouble, really, was with the sock puppets. That is, the guys from that silly little Islamic party who’d been put into mayoral and other positions so they’d adhere to the ANC-EFF alliance and give it a few more votes to assure the DA was booted out.

Pantypad Lesushi shook his head in puzzlement. Why don’t they just stick to their party’s goals, like murdering all the moffies?

Now there was Sock Puppet Mayor Number 2, Someone Kamikazi, tootling about, making quasi-mayoral noises but not really managing to manage anything about the city. And he was being accused of ripping people off in a funeral Ponzi scheme.

And we thought he was a safe pair of hands, thought Lesushi, because Islam forbids usury!

Perhaps Mayor Kamikazi didn’t understand the word “usury”. He must’ve thought it just means “business as usual”, and business as usual is all about fleecing people, especially the poorest of the poor, while organising a coalition to vote for salary increases and the funnelling of public funds to people propping up your party.


The Lilian Ngoyi Street explosion. (Photo: Luba Lesolle / Gallo Images)

What did the Party of Islamishness not understand about these elements of real­politik? It’s about power, dammit. It’s about money. It’s about fleecing people in the name of the Glorious Revolution, you dolts.

Fleecing people in the name of God is not quite what you’re here for.

Pantypad Lesushi shook his head in puzzlement. Why don’t they just stick to their party’s goals, like murdering all the moffies? It’s not like they had much else to offer, except those extra votes in the city council.

The Great Manipulator

Anyway, he sighed, that’s not today’s problem. And it was a city problem, in which he should not really have to get involved. He was provincial premier and, if it wasn’t for the total incompetence and stupidity of the ANC in the city, he wouldn’t have had to step in and manipulate things to get them back into power.

Now he was being seen as The Great Manipulator, a label he didn’t really mind, but his manipulations had exposed the uselessness of his own party in the city.

And now he had to go and make a speech about the fire, while avoiding any hint that his party might be mostly responsible for the disaster.

Oh, wait, now there was an explosion in Braamfontein. He’d been told about that earlier that morning, in fact, while he lay in bed in his canary-yellow pyjamas sipping a cup of steaming lapsang souchong.

Darn, another explosion. It wasn’t that long since the last explosion, which ripped up a road in the city centre. A road renamed after a hero of the struggle, too. That was bad luck.

Even while technically in mourning for 77 (or was it 78?) people who’d died horribly because of the city’s neglect and corruption, you still had to remind people subtly that you represented the Party of Bling.

He made a mental note to warn his underlings to be careful about renaming William Nicol Drive: before they renamed it Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Drive, they’d have to (a) make sure it wasn’t going to explode the day after it was renamed, and (b) make sure that the road signs were big enough to take a name that long.

Hopefully, they hadn’t blown their budget on fried chicken dinners for 804 people like that other department did.

And, speaking of blowing budgets, Lesushi wondered if there was still enough money in his clothing budget to send an underling out to buy him something in a sombre black. That’d be the right colour for a shirt he’d wear while making a serious announcement and acting all sad about all those people who’d died in the fire.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Very Important Mystery shrouds those men with boots and guns

Black but with a touch of gold, perhaps. After all, one didn’t want to neglect the bling element. Even while technically in mourning for 77 (or was it 78?) people who’d died horribly because of the city’s neglect and corruption, you still had to remind people subtly that you represented the Party of Bling, the party that might just enrich you if you bowed down and grovelled at the feet of The Great Manipulator.

Yes, black for blackness, his own best quality, and gold for… Egoli, yes, the City of Gold, as it once was, and gold for the Party of Bling. He’d be proud to wear that when he went out to make his big announcement.

Excellent, he thought. He’d be out there wearing a Mandela shirt, of whatever colour, and he’d be announcing an inquiry headed by a retired judge. Why, it was downright presidential. DM

Shaun de Waal is a writer and editor.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ed Rybicki says:

    Clever 😎

  • Denise Smit says:

    Excellent characterisation of Lesufi. Denise Smit

  • khozatg says:

    Please please Shaun, write something coherent.
    Because this is something I would expect Omphile Maotwe to pen, and not a responsible writer like you.
    Think again

  • Simone Spyker says:

    This is a brilliant piece of writing, Shaun! So hilarious! Such a lovely antidote to heavy, sombre news that we face daily. And yet, so chillingly spot on.

  • Irmgard Becker says:

    When outrage and indignation have little effect what’s left is satire. At least you made me laugh, Shaun, when mostly I want to cry. Sadly most young people don’t remember the beautiful orderly cities I grew up in. If like in Libya a catastrophic disaster were to strike in SA the results would be the same due to the corruption and incompetence of the people “in charge” and that’s just scary

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Brilliant, absolutely nails him. Lesufi is nearly as good a poster boy for ANC excellence as their empty vessel in chief Fix Fokol Mbalula

  • William Dryden says:

    Loved every word of the article, made my day as I laughed, we need more of this to take our minds of the incompetent ANC government idiots. I pray and hope the DA can unseat them in 2024.

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