Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane 29 January 2018

Dear Premier Ace Magashule…. Let’s Talk Frankly

I hope it’s still safe to address you as Premier. I am made to understand by people who like peddling lies about the ANC that you are not leaping with too much joy to vacate your office as Premier of the Free State.

I don’t know you as well as Fikile Mbalula does, claiming not so long ago that upon your rise, the ANC will fall … but even I didn’t think you would insist on clinging to power as premier.

This is malicious and untrue – naturally you can’t hold both jobs as that would be illegal. The law requires that no member of the legislature can hold another paying job. So the delegates, especially the 24 delegates that constitute your margin of victory at the conference, have already made that choice for you. I hope you can soon take us all out of any misery that would suggest you wanted to hold both jobs and let us know when we can visit you in your more humble office in Sauer Street. It will be nice to have a neighbour like you – do visit some time.

I am impressed at the way that you are able to take criticism on the chin. I mean, the way that you brushed off Comrade Mbalula’s down-putting remark about your potential to ruin the ANC is a stuff of marvel. You did not pay too much attention to him – although some of us do listen to him when he speaks at first – not the somersaults that tend to follow.

You remember when he outed the Guptas for appointing him sports minister? He was almost in tears about it and we look forward to hearing all the gory details in front of Judge Zondo. Thanks for not taking it to heart and soldiering on to lead the glorious movement.

Many people sadly believe like Mbalula that your election does not scream credibility right away and many are cringing at the ANC placing its whole engine in your hands. They do so from a superficial basis though, because you have never had to run anything as complex as the ANC head office. I understand their cynicism that you thought it possible to do that from Bloem – but am willing to suspend my disbelief at your very election to this post and give you an opportunity to prove these people wrong. The ANC deserves a chance to claw back its remaining credibility.

You come at a time when the Integrity Commission has been given some teeth and I hope you will immediately issue guidelines of how members of the ANC can report unsavoury conduct of leaders to the committee. I hope you will also place integrity issues on the agenda of the NEC regularly. There are comrades, for example, who use sexual favours to give out tenders. This tendency is too widespread among comrades and I am sure you will clamp down on it as you correctly should.

Panyaza Lesufi has stated this in Gauteng, when a principal in a school behaved like that using his authority to get his way with school kids and even teachers. But I digress.

There also comrades who are accused of very serious crimes and yet refuse to vacate office in line with the Mangaung resolution – I hope you will remind them of this resolution passed in your backyard. We don’t want another John Block situation where people cling on to their jobs to the detriment of the ANC when they know what they did in the dead of night.

The ANC national chairman, your gravel-voiced predecessor, admitted that the ANC is seen in the same sentence as corruption these days. Your presence does not really mitigate this immediately; if anything it makes it worse – in the gospel according to Mbalula. But I for one don’t wanna argue with Mbaks, I want your deeds to do the trick.

To some you are unfairly known as a corrupt fellow who uses people and discards them. Some of the people from the Free State (who spoke to me on condition of anonymity) are happy to see you go from the Free State. They are celebrating your departure from that town. Apparently you are a bully. I don’t believe them. Even your 23-year stint as Free State leader could never qualify you to be a bully. After all, Tambo, who was ANC president for decades, was still described as a gentle giant after presiding over it for that long. I however have an obligation to listen to those who lived under your “reign of terror” in the Free State but at least they are happy you managed to get rid of Terror Lekota. I know its sounds crass but who am I to argue with the sentiments of your constituency? I can’t even tell you who they are, given these terrible rules about protecting sources. But they are impeccable as they told me this long before you were so important.

But let’s talk frankly…

Many people have not heard you speak too loudly against the State Capture tendencies. If anything, you seem to take a lot of pride with the fact that your son works for this greasy lot. Looks like you and aunty Jessie are in the same WhatsApp group though, as her brother seems to be friends with these chaps, giving her an unfair advantage as she may well know before all of the Top Six about who is likely to be reshuffled in the next night of the long knives.

Take a leaf from Gwede – say what you like about him, but he was at least immediately disgusted when the Guptas landed their dirty jet at Waterkloof. He was not as loud when the culprits were promoted to be ambassadors – something I think you can improve.

As SG you will find that in your inbox is a complaint about the minister of state security bribing away in Parliament. I know you will attend to it swiftly. This is despite your “non-knowledge” of R30-million that was spent on the Gupta wedding under your Free State nose by Zwane, who is now in charge of destroying the mining industry. A promotion he got after destroying the agricultural industry in the Free State. But look, the Hawks’ raiding of your office may well refresh your memory greatly, should they find some of those memos you may have been made to sign by your chief of staff etc. This is some of the rubbish that will be at your feet as the new King of Luthuli House.

How I wish politics were soccer. Then the usual ululating of your name would mean something – but sadly it means nothing now. You are going to have to work for a measly salary and you will be free of the tender manipulation burdens that always followed you in the Free State. This should slow down your ageing and also help you focus. I am told Gwede had blue lights, if that is of any comfort. I look forward to your reign and future press conferences – look, you have enough denial in you to cope with journalists, as you proved in your few pressers so far. So take heart and don’t play all your aces too early; we are watching you as you restart the greasy engine of our beloved movement.

Oh, I recommend van lines for moving some of your furniture out of Parys and dial-a-bed if you now have to do things yourself as a normal ANC worker. They deliver in Braamfontein and Maboneng, where I am told you want to settle in solidarity with city dwellers.

Good moving to you!

Yours Frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

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