Those who have become intimately acquainted with the protagonists and antagonists currently featuring in Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s long-running, live-televised Section 194 impeachment inquiry have come to know the players reasonably well.
On stage and in the shadows.
We have all watched the committee chair, the often tetchy Qubudile Dyantyi, steer the heavily listing Good Ship Impeachment through stormy waters. Dyantyi has held his hand steadily at the tiller at the worst of times. The iceberg is now looming and he is determined to avoid it and sail on.
Someone who knows Dyantyi at closer range is a parliamentary colleague, DA MP Glynnis “G4S Buster” Breytenbach, also the party’s spokesperson on justice and constitutional development.
Outside the confines of the current showdown in Parliament and with about 20 days left on the 194 clock, Breytenbach reassured Dyantyi during a National Assembly budget debate that she knew him as a man who would never accept a bribe.
The sting in her quip, spoken like a true lawyer, came at the end, however, and was aimed more generally (we would assume) at the ANC, Dyantyi’s party (or a faction therein).
“At least not for R200,000,” was Breytenbach’s punchline.
Race against time
The suspended Public Protector has been dragged kicking and screaming, instituting various legal obstructions and challenges to her impeachment process, which has been running since 2021.
Her term ends in October, which would render her technically “unimpeachable” as she would no longer be an employee of the state. The race against time is to get to a vote before then.
We shall hold off now on mentioning the many legal cases expected to be launched in an attempt to recover some of the money Mkhwebane owes in legal cost orders and also the R4-million-odd she might have to pay back in free rent she benefited from.
She spent her entire tenure living in the high-security, luxury Presidential Estate in Bryntirion, Pretoria, where she was not legally entitled to move in as a neighbour to Cabinet ministers. And the Office of the Public Protector paid the rent.
The most recent attempt to stall the 194 proceedings took place in the Western Cape High Court this week in Mkhwebane’s bid to have Dyantyi and DA committee member Kevin Mileham tossed overboard. Judgment was reserved.
Enter Mr Potty Mouth
From the start, everyone was expecting some dramatic turn to the Section 194 inquiry.
Advocate Dali Mpofu has at times warned that the show “would make Nkandla look like a picnic”, so it is not as if we didn’t expect plot twists and turns.
Heavy bets were on a Zuma-style Zondo walkout, or that Mkhwebane’s expensive legal team would pack up and go when the money ran out, after manufactured delay after delay.
The money – with about R300-million forked out by the Public Protector’s Office so far – did run dry, leading to Mpofu, instructed by Seanego Attorneys, packing up and leaving to defend former president Jacob Zuma in his legendary legal sagas elsewhere.
About R4-million was scraped together and ringfenced, but Mkhwebane appeared to be still having trouble getting anyone to represent her at bargain-basement rates.
No one, but no one, expected Mkwebane’s potty-mouthed husband, Mandla Skosana, to turn up. But turn up he did.
This twist occurred after “revelations” in The Star by journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika (he of the Sunday Times “rogue unit” story and an ex-colleague of former Pretoria News editor Piet “Decuplets” Rampedi) that Skosana had been approached and asked for a bribe “by three ANC MPs” to “make it all go away”.
The three had allegedly demanded R600,000 to facilitate this and, in the interests of transparency and democracy, Skosana opened a case of extortion against ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina, Dyantyi and Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who chairs the portfolio committee on police.
This sum, we assume, was allegedly to be split among the three, hence Breytenbach’s joke this week.
Anyone who has watched Joemat-Pettersson as chair of the police committee will be aware of her heightened sense of awareness about any untoward or unaccountable behaviour. She has been in the firing line before so she knows it burns.
Joemat-Pettersson is aware that all eyes are on the New Dawn and that no Dancing in the Dark will be allowed.
It was Skosana who in August last year tweeted: “The white pigs who are manipulating, writing media statements, political analysts, zombies, paid Twitter trolls, TV anchors are writing articles about the PP in every hour, what’s going on and the agenda?”
The white pigs who are manipulating,writing media statements,political analysts,zombies,paid Twitter trolls,TV anchors are writing articles about the PP in every hour,what's going on and the agenda?
— David Skosana (@DavidSkosana4) August 28, 2022
Skosana, who previously served as the communications director for SuperSport United, also tweeted a photoshopped image of News24’s legal writer Karyn Maughan, wearing orange overalls with sboshwa (prisoner) typed across the picture.
Money, money, money
Of course, former president Zuma’s attempt at a private prosecution of Maughan and the prosecutor in his arms deal corruption matter, Billy Downer, was funded by diamond ponzi king Louis Liebenberg. This crowd goes where the money is, no matter how dirty.
That Skosana has joined the fray is an indication that desperate times call for desperate measures. Call in the family.
Of course, Majodina, Dyantyi and Joemat-Pettersson have denied the wild claims and have threatened to take action against The Star. Over on Twitter, The Star promised to share concrete evidence.
The country waits.
Meanwhile, Skosana reckons the saga will end thus: “Zombies, Europeans, puppets are in pain but history will absolve her.”
The final season of “194 Impeachment” will end in an alternative hard reality.
In Mkhwebane’s “Spy vs Spy” world, time is running out. Twenty days are left to see whether accountability will trump propaganda and fake news, and whether the committee has been convinced by the mounds of evidence given so far.
Season 2 is going to be lit. DM
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.