Inside the ANC debates about how to stay in power and keep those R2-million car allowances

Inside the ANC debates about how to stay in power and keep those R2-million car allowances
While the ANC, the sole legitimate representative of South Africa’s masses, may not have solutions to all the country’s woes, it sure does know how to make promises. (Illustration: Midjourney AI)

Tune in for a sneak peek into the ANC’s campaign points discussion, featuring some heavyweight thoughts.

What does the ANC intend to argue when it’s campaigning in the elections this year? We got hold of the transcription of a discussion group of ANC heavyweights throwing some ideas around, which we reproduce for you here.

We aren’t giving the names of the speakers so that we don’t compromise the person who leaked it to us, but here’s what the brightest minds in the ANC are thinking.

Voice 1: Well, comrades, another election year is staring us in the face. I know everyone has more important things to do than beg for votes, but the surveys are saying the ANC, the sole legitimate representative of the toiling – or, in fact, not toiling because they’re unemployed – masses of South Africa, will drop below 50% in this election!

That’s scary. Think of all those ANC MPs who won’t be earning those huge salaries for doing nothing! They – and I mean “we” – won’t have R2-million car allowances! All that money will be going to the opposition MPs, raking in the money that should rightfully belong to us! To us! (Muttering and sighing among those gathered.)

And let’s not say, “Oh, that’s democracy, or you win some, you lose some” – that’s defeatist. We didn’t found this democracy so that we could be voted out!

We founded this democracy for the ANC! We are the sole legitimate representative of the suffering people of South Africa! No other party has the right to win an election!

So, comrades, in this ejection, sorry, I misspoke, I mean election year, let’s put our heads together and work out what we’re going to tell the people of South Africa when we’re out there on the stump.

Voice 2: Stump? Why’s it called the stump? It makes us sound like amputees, or like we’re standing on the body of an amputee. (Snickering all round.)

Voice 3: Ha ha, very funny, comrade. The opposition argues we are indeed amputees – our sense of decency, of true service to the people, has simply been cut off!

Voice 1: A typical white-bourgeois-constitutionalist view. The question is what we say in response, or how we distract the electorate’s attention from this accusation. We need talking points, comrades, talking points! And we should try very hard not to lie, either.

Are you listening, comrade Fiks? I see you are busy on your phone – tweeting again, I suppose. Perhaps we can save that for when we have something to say?

No, we really must try not to tell lies, to claim those easy victories. That’s just giving ammunition to the opposition, and they already have too much ammunition.

Voice 4: Ah, but do they have the big guns to use it? There’s nobody with any charisma there. Look at Steenhuisen – talk about a limp dishrag!

Voice 5: You’re forgetting Juju, my friend. Our former comrade Juju has more charisma, I’m sorry to say, than the entire ANC electoral list put together! I’m not trying to insult anyone; I’m just being honest. You said no lies.

Voice 3: Let’s not get off track. Juju may have the charisma but he’s not really opposition. Votes for the EFF are really votes for us – because we’ll form coalitions with the EFF and thus stay in power. We’ll just have to make a few financial, er, I mean ideological, concessions.

Voice 1: That’s not the official party line, comrade, and you know it. Never mind what Paul and Panyaza say. We have to at least pretend we’re in this to win this.

Voice 3: Right, so we ignore the Effies until the voting’s over.

Let’s also ignore the party that shall be nameless because there’s a copyright dispute, the party of our former glorious leader Jacob Gedlihgodknowswhat Zuma – it’s really just the EFF for old people, isn’t it?

Voice 5: And some tribalists from KZN. Don’t forget them. We still want their vote, don’t we?

Voice 1: Yes, yes, we want everyone’s vote. Even those of people who don’t vote because they’re so disgusted at what the ANC has become, at how it has failed the people of whom it is the sole legitimate representative and so on and so forth.

Voice 3: Okay, okay, enough with the failed this, betrayed that. We all know what we have to do. We have to make promises! Bigger and better promises than we’ve ever made before! We have to reach new heights of promising! We have to make promises so big they fill the sky!

And never mind keeping those promises – think of all the promises we’ve made in the past, promises broken by us, the sole legitimate, etc, but hey, they kept us above 50%, did they not? In most places, anyway.

Voice 1: The comrade speaks wisely. Which brings us to the NHI. And the, er … Copyright Amendment Bill, is it?

Voice 4: What does NHI stand for again?

Voice 2: I think it’s National Ho …  sorry, Nomvula, it’s, er, no, it’s National HeHeHe…

Voice 1: No jokes! It’s National Health Insurance. Please memorise that. Write it down, if you can remember how to write. And read. You can read, can’t you?

Voice 4: Of course! I read Twitter, I mean X, all the time!

Voice 1: Well, there’s our great big promise for election 2024! National health for all! That’s what we say when we’re on the, er, stump, anyway.

We don’t say it’s a massive cash grab, a stripping of assets from the medical aids with big shiny buildings in Sandton, a new tax on the middle class…

Well, don’t use the word “tax”. We already pour fortunes of tax money into public health and yet our hospitals are falling apart, people are dying as hospitals get flooded or burnt… 

Voice 3: And Parliament got burnt down. So many municipal buildings burnt, gutted! Maybe we should promise to burn down all the civic buildings in South Africa? That’s what the people really want, don’t they?

Voice 2: Now you sound like the EFF.

Voice 3: Then we should talk about rebuilding them?

Voice 2: No, no, now you sound like the DA. No talk of rebuilding. It just reminds people that they’re falling apart. The unbuilding, you might say, happened under the ANC’s watch.

Voice 4: I believe the correct expression is “on the ANC’s watch”, comrade.

Voice 2: Oh, shut up. Enough with the colonialist language. Just because you went to university for a year…

Voice 1: Comrades, comrades. No factionalism, please. No facts, either.

We have the NHI, then, as our big, big promise. It shows we’ve been doing something in Parliament.

And then there’s the Copyright Amendment Bill. We rammed that through our burnt-out Parliament. It’s an achievement.

Voice 2: But nobody understands that bill.

Voice 1: It’s simple. It strips away the rights to financial compensation from a whole lot of authors and writers of books. It’s taking a stand against Western colonialist concepts of ownership, of intellectual property, of hard work being rewarded. I think that’ll play well with the badly educated, won’t it?

Voice 5: Yes! In the future, that’s the whole of South Africa, no? Uneducated, unemployed, disempowered, impoverished…

Voice 2: Quite right! And we, the ANC, are the sole legitimate representative of them all! 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.

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