Hydraulic cranes, fake machine guns and snatching the Webb Ellis Cup – the howling politicians hate being upstaged.
Attempts to reduce the Bok victory in France to political pantomime were a resounding flop as the four-time Champions of the World toured cities and towns like royalty on their return to home soil.
EFF CIC Julius Malema thought he would get in early on the Sunday immediately after the victory, proclaiming the Springbok an apartheid symbol.
How dare the nation celebrate, the Grumpy/Shouty One must have thought. Mind you, here is a man who walks around with a bodyguard carrying a toy gun. This is from his own lips in sworn testimony in a court of law.
A figure of ridicule and hilarity on X, he is toxic in real life when his oxygen – lies, insults and exhortations to violence – don’t land him in the headlines.
If Jacob Zuma was the King of Meandos, Julius Malema is the Emperor of Deceit.
Malema has an addiction to media, evidenced by regular, rambling, hours-long press conferences where the Leader pontificates, jokes and threatens as his mind unspools.
The game of rugby, Malema told members at a “ground forces forum” last week, was invented in the Eastern Cape.
“They” had “found it here” he announced with all the clarity of a man who values education above ignorance.
Big Man Syndrome
Then the leader of the governing ANC’s Taliban faction in KZN, the towering Siboniso Armstrong Duma, prodded the ANC Women’s League from deep slumber this week.
Duma had “grabbed”, or “snatched”, the Rugby World Cup trophy from Eben Etzebeth, an actual Springbok, hoisting it aloft while Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube clutched at air.
Dube-Ncube, in the province’s political hierarchy, was meant to lift the cup for the adoring public.
On the political playground with all that cheering and clapping, Duma, overcome by established KZN male hierarchies, took the cup and held it aloft for the cameras.
Immortality in his big, big hands.
Duma later explained that the incident had occurred not because he was an example of toxic masculinity, but because of his height.
It was not his fault that Dube-Ncube was too short (or a woman) to scrum for the trophy in the heat of the media moment.
Duma, who is almost 1.82m tall, has a thing about height. Let’s call it Big Man Syndrome.
Chris Pappas, the DA mayor of the uMngeni Local Municipality who is a candidate for premier of KZN, is about the same height as Dube-Ncube.
Pappas is also gay and speaks and dances in fluent isiZulu. Duma has often attempted to bully Pappas, labelling him a “little boy” and a “racist”, and announcing that he would be “dealt with”.
In KZN that could mean anything from assassination to kidnapping. Luckily, Pappas has the real political cojones to carry on regardless.
The ANC in the region, or a faction thereof, it is rumoured, will be courting Jacob Zuma, fresh out of jail and with the July 2021 insurrection a distant memory, as a star voter attraction.
The thing about this type of political solidarity is that it thrives on empty theatre and public folly.
However, the ANC Women’s League was moved to complain that Duma has in fact repeatedly undermined the authority of the premier, a woman.
We reckon the gripe will end up in a queue on the complaints line at Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, where secretary-general Fikile Mbalula stalks the corridors like an escaped giant yellow canary in designer D&G pyjamas.
“Welcome to the ANC complaint line. We value your call. Please hold while we locate someone in the building. If the line cuts out, it is because we forgot to pay the bill.”
Duma, like Malema, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and others, suffers from serious episodes of intellectual slippage, when truth and facts blend like fierce farts in a strong wind.
Malema is a serial consciousness slipper, this we know. He has now acknowledged it publicly himself. His initial support of the Boks had been one such moment, he has proclaimed.
But alongside Jimmy Manyi, now an EFF MP, Malema holds the world title for such lapses.
Remember when he screamed like a baby that he regretted the EFF’s decision to support the now impeached Busisiwe Mkhwebane as Public Protector?
A reminder, then.
“We just took a puppet from Gupta’s kitchen and said let’s give her a chance,” he wailed at a media conference at the EFF headquarters in January 2017 .
Come 2023 and Mkhwebane has joined the EFF leadership to great jubilation and fanfare, and with a dress-down from her favoured Valentino Rockstud heels to a red cleaning overall and kopdoek (headscarf).
In the same way that Dr Mamphela Ramphele parachuted into the DA in 2014, Mkhwebane, just like that, was sworn in as an MP, joining the ranks of those who had voted for her removal from office as Public Protector.
As a gift to mark the career move, Mkhwebane’s husband, David Skosana, bought her a big, fat, black German luxury car, a few days before Malema told EFF officials it was time for austerity. For the rank and file, of course, not the higher-ups.
The Ramphele/Zille merger splintered a mere five days later when Ramphele returned to her own party, Agang, only to see it disappear from the political landscape.
Get the popcorn
The EFF circus is going to keep rolling along and, like a dung beetle collecting layers, Malema’s orb will grow as it rolls downhill. Unlike Agang, it is unlikely to go down with a whimper.
While pantomime and theatre will be ramped up by those with little more to offer voters than howling in the run-up to the 2024 elections, reality offers a more complex challenge. Out there is a variety of sane and serious voices who understand liberty, freedom, democracy and accountability.
South Africa is a country in the process of becoming.
Rhetoric and hatred are the province of those bereft of ideas, who con us with their play-play real guns and their play-play real politics.
They are relics of an old politics.
If you need a hydraulic hoist to be seen, you look a tad desperate.
Enjoy the spectacle of it all for now, but read the fine print or just watch the farce and go with the adults on the ballot.
The overwhelming feeling of pride and joy that has washed over South Africa because of the Bokke was due to us, We the People, and a team that represents this country in more ways than one.
Voices like Siya Kolisi’s are carried on the wind of hope while the shrieking of the Malemas tries to drown them out with fire and flames.
Can’t be done. DM
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.