I thought I’d said my last on the sad topic of Madiba’s illness. Tofolux would have certainly been pleased, as both my last two posts dealing with Madiba clearly upset him/her. But it was not Tofolux’s comment that got my attention. That honour belongs to BillyC, whose comment I initially disregarded as being impossible. It is an outrageous suggestion. But it has stuck with me to the point that I need to examine it, and in a way that completes the trilogy of posts. So, Tofolux, one last time and I’ll leave Tata alone, I promise.

BillyC dared suggest that Madiba will be supported at all costs for now, only to die if possible next year “when the ANC will need his passing, to creature a tsunami of grief, that will guarantee the desired 67% majority.”

At first glance it is an outrageous suggestion. To prolong a life for the simple reason of political expediency is a thought so horrific it should be disregarded automatically by any normal person. But dare we do so?

The ANC knows it is in deepening trouble. Jacob Zuma faces the strong possibility of answering corruption charges that are only likely to be kept at bay as long as the ANC stays in power and can use any tactic by any means to delay charges. With loss of grassroots support from the likes of Julius Malema’s EFF party on the left, Mamphela Ramphele’s Agang on the right, and an increasingly confident official opposition in the DA, Zuma can no longer be 100% confident of anything anymore.

What would the consequences of Madiba’s passing, let’s say, six weeks before the general election in 2014 be? An international and national outpouring of justified grief is inevitable. A funeral unlike any other will be arranged. Foreign presidents and ministers will attend. Media coverage will saturate the airwaves and other media. The ANC executive will embark on a PR exercise like nothing before to honour Madiba’s name, with a call to honour the ANC at the same time as a mark of respect for Madiba. A call to maintain support for the now struggling party by voting ANC is inevitable. Those contemplating a better alternative for their votes will be sent on a guilt trip of note.

How are the opposition parties likely to cope in this environment? How much effective campaigning is likely to be done in such a time? No one is going to care much about Helen Zille, Juju and Ramphele’s campaigns, political promises, and offers of a better deal. All of which will cost these parties significant votes.

Is this scenario feasible?

It is if Nelson Mandela has no say in the matter. If he is unable to make decisions for himself, and has no living will, others will make decisions for him. His family would be the major decision-makers at this stage. It is not inconceivable that doctors under orders would feed the family misinformation that encourages prolongation of his life, or appeal to a sense of patriotism to his legacy. The Mandela family hardly seems united at this stage, and their recent behaviour on many fronts suggests their considerations go way beyond that of the old man’s welfare.

What kind of doctor would take orders to do something as perturbing as this? Doctors under orders would. Military doctors. The ones who have been involved from the start with Madiba’s care and may still be. Military doctors understand what it is to take orders. Ask Wouter Basson — “acting under orders” has been a highly successful part of his defence for many years.

As pointed out in another comment Ariel Sharon, ex-prime minister of Israel has been kept very successfully in a “critical but stable” state for the past seven years after suffering a stroke. It’s highly doable.

In the heady and optimistic days of Mandela’s presidency, a suggestion like this would be laughable. But political governance has gone steadily downhill since then. Three hundred thousand lives were lost due to Aids denialism, and no one has been held to account. The arms deal, submarines rotting on the hard, the education crisis, the ruination of health services, Nkandla, SAA, Eskom, SABC, attacks on the Constitution — failure after failure. And the humiliating PR exercise just weeks ago when a frail and vacant Madiba was photographed in Zuma’s company.

Bluntly stated, I wouldn’t put it past this government. Not now, seeing what has been done to preserve power at all stakes against the realisation that their time is coming to an end.

Whatever the situation, the DA, EFF and Agang better hope that the work-up to the 2014 election is not overshadowed by Madiba’s passing, or that they have a very effective plan in place even if fate alone decides the timing of Madiba’s passing.

That’s it, Tofolux, I’m done.


Martin Young

Martin Young

Martin Young is an ENT surgeon living an idyllic life in Knysna. He is a firm believer that "the unexamined life is not worth living", writes for a hobby and is happy to speak truth to power www.drmartinyoung.com...

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