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So, the dog finally catches its tail.

I really enjoyed seeing president Mbeki being booted out of office last week.

No, not because I necessarily wanted him out. I quite enjoyed his time at the helm. Only a cursory glance through my posts will reveal that I quite like Mbeki — especially his brain. It’s a penchant I share with an individual of extraordinarily well-developed aural appendages who answers to the name ‘Kevin’.

But that says more about me than it does about president Mbeki. I quite like my presidents all academic, intellectual and harbouring a fair level of disdain for ordinary people. If ordinary people were important, they’d be presidents then, wouldn’t they? Ordinary people are supposed to toast in the sun at obscure stadiums like Curries Fountain for hours shouting ‘Viva!’ at the slightest provocation, fainting in ridiculously long queues to vote for presidents (or parties with short acronyms as the case may be) and beating up Mozambicans in Alexandra.

But I digress. Mbeki’s ousting was the most exciting thing I have witnessed in politics in a long, long time. Forget the day Mosiua ‘Terrified’ Lekota pretended to be deaf and mute inside a Polokwane tent with no air-conditioning back in December. I’m talking about something much more significant. I’m talking about the day Thabo Mbeki launched Winnie Mandela’s carefully assembled headgear into space with a roundhouse backslap that would have made Chuck Norris proud. Pity about Inkosi Buthelezi’s incredible hand-eye coordination. That mother-fornicator would have landed on the body in space formerly known as Pluto. But that moment gave me much more pleasure than the hijack scenes in Jerusalema. And I’m a darkie. We ‘people’ like watching that kind of thing.
I have complained about the lack of entertainment in our politics on these very pages. It seems that politicians are Silwane Files’ ardent readers because they sure have responded. Since Polokwane I have sat here pulling out my nasal hair by the roots to get some entertainment while these suckers sat there and did nothing. They sure have responded now.

My ignorance on the sophisticated intricacies of politics is well documented, but here are my random, uninformed thoughts.

President Mbeki

Underrated president. Exactly what we needed when he came along. A technocrat who was not shy to ‘steal with pride’ and get the ‘fundamentals’ in order so as to set the scene. I’ve often done this myself, before tough exams. I spent hours setting up everything I needed to get stuck into the books — without getting stuck into the books themselves. Considering that at the time we weren’t even in agreement about where we were going insofar as fiscal policy was concerned for instance, this unilateralism was invaluable. It gave even his most ardent detractors a springboard from which to launch their vociferous disapproval. All of a sudden, everybody had a standard to either attack or endorse. One was either pro-GEAR or anti-GEAR. Cosatu will never admit it, but they were still struggling to find the vocabulary to clearly define their vision when Mbeki defined ‘his’ GEAR and all of a sudden there it was, in black and white. But that is the luxury of the critic; the gift of hindsight.

Whether they admit it or not, I think he dragged the ANC kicking and screaming into the 21st century from the 1960s style Lusaka-based, liberation movement. But I think that the ANC was always going to be his Achilles’ heel. Liberation movements are not, by design, necessarily friendly to individualistic persons. Individualism messes up the herd mentality needed to topple intransigent racist regimes. Give me an army of free thinkers and I’ll show you a vanquished army.

Where he messed up spectacularly, I think, is in his belief that his excrement smelled sweeter than most — much to the chagrin of everybody who came into contact with him. People do not particularly like it when other people believe they are superior. Sharing a whisky with Mbalula and discussing issues of glans exposure (or not) might have garnered a few mileage points, for instance. In the end, he might be remembered as another Mugabe wannabee, desperately clinging onto power. That would be a shame. And unfair to his legacy.

The coalition of the wounded

Zuma. Mantashe. Phosa. Motlanthe. Vavi. Nzimande. Ramaphosa. Sexwale. Modise. Mbete.

Because I do not know much about politics, it is extremely difficult to piece together the thread that binds all these people together. I will leave that to the informed analysts. But from my position of absolute ignorance, it seems that there is only one thing that binds them together. No prizes for guessing. Yep, Thabo Mbeki.

It brings to the fore that old philosophical question. We’ve all experienced that comical scene when a dog chases its own tail with much fervour and passion. But what happens when the dog finally catches its own tail? Bit of an anti-climax, isn’t it? Mbeki is out in the cold, with everything that is despicable that he brought into the highest office in the land. But now that he is gone, a new dilemma emerges. Dealing with the aftermath. Let’s all be clear about what I’m saying. The decision to oust him was the absolutely correct one from the point of view of the ANC, I think. If his last act is anything to go by, then they were absolutely correct. I don’t care what ‘contextualising’ you do; releasing that list of cabinet resignations was childish. And dangerous. Disgraceful exit my black, hairy behind.

But back to the future. I’m not even certain that I know who really is in charge. Is it Zuma? Motlanthe? Mantashe? Phosa? They’re all part of the human race. Unless I’m completely wrong about how human beings are wired, South Africans want to be clear about who is in charge. This is what helped Mbeki stay in power as long as he did. There was never any question that he was the one charge of his domain, even if you believe he was steering this ship towards an iceberg. Well-intentioned and noble ideals such as ‘collective leadership’ can only lead to mass confusion.

We’re African and we need to know whose name to use when we desecrate yet another Methodist hymn and turn it into a ‘movement’ song. Motlanthe is the president. Mantashe insists Zuma is the ANC president. Phosa is busy writing mystical missives that are on a judicial slant. But what simple people want to know is; who is in charge? In whose name are we going into blasphemous mode?

The opposition

I saw these uninspiring palookas on TV last night, lined up to greet the new king, grinning from ear-to-ear. All I have to say about that is; bunch of star-struck, irrelevant bunch of overrated political ‘analysts’. Steven Friedman, Aubrey Matshiqi, Adam Habib, Sipho Seepe, Judith February etc have nothing to fear from each other in terms of who is the top dog.

Their real competition is from another bunch of ANC internal politics analysts. I’m talking about Zille, Holomisa, de Lille, Buthelezi, Meshoe etc. Do any of these people even have real political parties they are in charge of? Can you even remember the last time you saw anything on TV or read anything they said in the print media or their own websites where they weren’t giving you ‘insight’ into the ANC? And this is what I’m supposed to use as my basis to vote DA, UDM, ID, IFP, ACDP? Analysis into the ANC? Using parliamentary privilege to play whistleblower? I think there’s too much in the term ‘opposition’.

I’m personally not too fazed about what happens next. Human resourcefulness is underrated. Unless of course we’ve all been hoodwinked and Mantashe is not human (hey, it’s possible!), in which case we’re all stuffed then.

Regardless of what happens; I just can’t wait to see what this dog does now that it has caught its tail.

[email protected]


  • Once upon a time, Ndumiso Ngcobo used to be an intelligent, relevant man with a respectable (read: boring-as-crap) job which funded his extensive beer habit. One day he woke up and discovered that he had lost his mind, quit his well-paying job, penned a collection of hallucinations. A bunch of racist white guys published the collection just to make him look more ridiculous and called it 'Some of my best friends are white'. (Two Dogs, ISBN 978-1-92013-718-2). Nowadays he spends his days wandering the earth like Kwai Chang Caine, munching locusts, mumbling to himself like John the Baptist and searching for the meaning of life at the bottom of beer mugs. The racist publishers have reared their ugly heads again and dangled money in his face to pen yet another collection of hallucinations entitled 'Is It Coz 'm Black'. He will take cash, major credit cards and will perform a strip tease for contributions to his beer fund.


  1. Tshepang Pitso Tshepang Pitso 26 September 2008

    “bunch of star-struck, irrelevant bunch of overrated political ‘analysts’. Steven Friedman, Aubrey Matshiqi, Adam Habib, Sipho Seepe, Judith February etc”.

    Could not have said it better! You really know how to make someone’s day Ndumiso.

    Is it only in South Africa where these so-called ‘analysts’ can gather in a discussion panel, and all say the same thing and never disagree with each other?

  2. Musa Musa 26 September 2008

    Good one!!

    Yep, the question still remains, who is in charge?

    Unfortunately, you cannot cry victim forever.

    Should the NPA appeal, successfully, and then re-charge Zuma, will the revolutionaries blame Motlanthe?

    Interesting times ahead….

  3. Brent Brent 26 September 2008

    Thank you Ndumiso, great read could you please bully management to allow you to blog ever Friday as it is wonderful to start the week end with uncontrolable chuckles


  4. siyabonga ntshingila siyabonga ntshingila 26 September 2008

    Last I checked Zuma was president of the ANC,and the ANC had deployed Motlanthe to the Government office vacated by another of it’s members.Simple.

    I think.

    What will they do? Read up on Polokwane resolutions.That should shed some light.

    That said-sweet boet.The Silwane files are back and in true form.Legend.

  5. Khaya Dlanga Khaya Dlanga 26 September 2008

    hear, hear or is it here, here? excuse me but my british often fails me.

  6. Hlabirwa Hlabirwa 26 September 2008

    In the words of Gwede Mantashe: “In the ANC we discuss until we reach consesus” Then you ask who is in charge – of course “we” are in charge!
    Reminds me of the ‘everybody’,’anybody’,’nobody’, ‘somebody’ joke.
    The next target: Robert McBride!!!!
    As the opposition parties – in all honesty there is no opposition to talk about. Mzansi is settled with ANC ‘until the second coming’ as the Honourable Paster Msholozi has prophesised.

  7. Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos 26 September 2008

    “Can you even remember the last time you saw anything on TV or read anything they said in the print media or their own websites where they weren’t giving you ‘insight’ into the ANC?”

    Makes me only think about the time when we saw the small factions within the small opposition party: DA; remember when the wannabe-pale, Joe Seremane & the ever clamouring, Godzille were tussling for the miniature presidency. Everyone observed the true colours of the wannabe democratic, transformed DA party. It belongs to those who reside in the leafy parts of SA suburbs.

    Or what about the frivolous park in KZN? Do you still remember when the clannish led IFP’s Principal didn’t and wouldn’t even shift aside for Rev Zondi?
    Ag! Displaying dictatorship at its best.

    Or when the erstwhile Transkeian despot, kicked the hell out of whoever had dissimilar views within their dumfounding party. Bullyism in laboratory.

    Shouldn’t these small parties first get their houses in order, before being political commentators (regrettable competing with the likes of Mashiqi, Fikeni, Friedman, Habib, and the likes) on matters relating to the ruling ANC party?

    As the one time or should I say the all time self styled Pipe Smoking dim-wit’s fanatic once said, “The kettle is calling the pot, black”

  8. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 26 September 2008

    Actually I think that releasing the list of cabinet resignations was, unintentionally of course, one of the best things that happened. The free fall in the markets that resulted, was a much needed reality check for the Zumarites!

    As for the opposition – their job is to OPPOSE the ANC. This necessarily means discussing them and their policies – how else do you suggest they do it? That is what ALL oppositions do in ALL democracies.

    The relief that Mbeki has gone, is almost as strong as the relief that the president is not Zuma.

    I am very impressed with the credentials of both the new president and the new deputy president.

    And the relief that Manto has been booted out of health is massive!

    Actually you are confusing party and state. Who is in charge of the ANC, the party, is the root of the problem.

  9. Ntuthuko Ntuthuko 26 September 2008

    As for the internal analysts, Zille and De lille, in particular…they are opposed to everything and yet stand for nothing, much like you said.

  10. Bawi Bawi 26 September 2008

    Well thought out argument, balanced and as always great sense of humour.

    I have very simple thoughts on the matter. Thabo needs to go into a period of serious soul searching. We love him and no one, not even those who ganged up against him can deny the ernomous contribution he made to the development of this country. He does however need to look at himself critically and be honest about his mistakes, bad decisiones and judgements. I’ve always been a firm believer that the universe simply works with your energy it doesn’t matter how wealthy, educated or intelligent you are, you will always get back what you put in (karma).

    Even for the ‘currently victorous’, the future will produce for them the fruit of today’s seed.

  11. japes japes 26 September 2008

    The worst thing about the market falling out of bed was that I missed the obvious opportunity to short SA stocks and currency. Silly bastid!

    Wonder if Trevor orchestrated his little stunt after a nod and a wink to his broker?

  12. Themba Themba 26 September 2008

    So this thing really pissed you off so much you decided to write about it.

    I agree with most of what you say, but you should have excluded Mothlanthe and Mbete on the list of the people you are saying opposition to Mbeki was the glue holding them together. You will see what I am talking about as time goes on.

    One day I am going to write better than you do. Your writing style is not patented. If I take it and blend it with the style of the guy who used to write a weekly newsletter on the internet until December 2007, I am certain that I will emerge writing better than both of you.

  13. Steve Steve 27 September 2008

    Good for you Themba! You´ll show us all!!

  14. Liansky Liansky 27 September 2008

    Um…. okay.. i’m confused… you actually.. um.. took a position? Ok, it did have that, ‘take a position without taking a position’ element to it, but yeah, it is safe to say that you support President Mbeki and you don’t support Zuma. I know i’m going into dangerous backbone territory here, but yeah, that is it. As i said before, when you step off your fence, you become a really remarkable observer and analyst.

    You know what was even funnier? When the DA announcd a candidate…. wa.. wa… wa… wahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…
    heeho.. hee.. ho…

    Anyways, i would like to advertise whenever possible that i am no longer an ANC supporter. My allegiance lies with a Mbeki presidency and although i am relieved that the great moron, Jacob Zuma, is not the president, i am still not voting for some democratic socialist ideal that will eventuiall lead to… um.. oh, yes… my prediction.. did i tell you my prediction?? In less than 1 year and 6 months, South Africa will develop an unsustainable fiscal deficit which will eventually lead to a crises in all spheres of government and which wil lead to mass inflation and capital flight from both domestic and foreign investors.. because of some bullshit socialist all-encompasing consensus-reaching democratic principle. May all Jacob Zuma supporters remain poor for the rest of their lives while i take a first class flight to go work overseas and enjoy a culture of mass over-consumption. God bless… um… sorry… Darwin bless.. my bad.

  15. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 28 September 2008


    It was important for the DA to put up a candidate and force a vote.

    What I found interesting was that 1/4 of the delegates spoiled their papers or voted for Joe. Bearing in mind the vast majority the ANC presently has in parliament this was revealing. It was also revealing that the spoilt papers seem to show that ALL the other opposition parties appear not to have voted for either.

  16. Vapour Vapour 28 September 2008

    @Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos… “Everyone observed the true colours of the wannabe democratic, transformed DA party. It belongs to those who reside in the leafy parts of SA suburbs…” If that were true would that not then infer that all ex Cosatu, SACP, ANC and ANCYL are in fact now DA ‘cadres’?

  17. Siboniso Siboniso 29 September 2008

    ” If ordinary people were important, they’d be presidents then, wouldn’t they? ”
    So right you are, njengenjwayelo
    funny funny funny. We are living in the real Hollywood here in ZA (Viva ! JeLusalema :) )

  18. Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos 29 September 2008


    Oh!ANCYL,SACP,COSATU are all staying in Sea Point, Plumstead,Pinelands, Centurion, Summerstrand, Gonuibe, Top town, Benoni?

    Uuugh!! Why didn’t I know?

  19. Vapour Vapour 30 September 2008

    Siphiwo stop mentioning those white trash trailer parks. ANC ex cadres reside in Houghton, Sandton and other poor detached house neighbourhoods.

  20. Xolani Majola Xolani Majola 1 October 2008


    The problem with the opposition parties is that they remain just that, the opposition. They are like an alarm system, they wait for a triggering effect and then they respond, sounding a huge alarm and that’s just it, making noise.

    We are yet to have an alternative to the ANC. The rest are just mouth-pieces sitting on the opposing end of parliament making noise or shall I say sounding an alarm.

    I have also noticed just how some people speak as though they were in the ANC processes that culminated to President Mbeki being sacked from government. I also notice all the prejudice and negativity directed at Jacob Zuma and his future government. South Africans are good sangomas and soothsayers, because in anticipation of a bleak future under Jacob Zuma, some have already started packing their bags and ready to embark on the long journey overseas.

    It’s exciting to watch all of these events unfolding in our country. I keep saying we live in exciting times and only the worst of skeptics wont agree.

  21. Ntombi Dina Ntombi Dina 1 October 2008

    We were talking with some of my friens over dinner izolo and I was the only Zulu.So, we ended up asking if it was possible to be romentic in Zulu. So I thought I should ask you. Do you think our language is at all romentic?

  22. Art Art 1 October 2008

    I am one of the individuals who shed a few during our now former president’s exit speech, such poetry!! But I must add that my admiration for the man is only in retrospect; when i had to choose between his ‘British reserve’ and a song and dance puppetry exhibitionist who relies heavily on popular support.
    Interesting times indeed!!
    This is the time when I need to put my longstanding ambitions of bringing about a resurgence of the now ineffective PAC into action.
    I also call for the disbandment of the ANC, its tenure as a liberation party has been served and its objectives achieved, what we need now is the formation of new parties with new ‘mandates, Chief.’

  23. Linda Linda 2 October 2008

    Couldnt have said it better. Great read.

    Who’s the opposition by the way? DA?



    Has Thabo been immersed in those self-help books?
    Is he an ubuntu guru, with sophisticated looks?
    This guy, I bet you, is heading for Oprah,
    Dr Phil, I reckon, is probably over.

    “Never become despondent because the weather is bad,”
    Excellent advice to those who are SAD
    Its a Seasonally Affected Disorder,
    Gets you seriously depressed in winter.

    “Don’t turn triumphalist because the sun shines”
    Is also one of our ex President’s lines.
    Advising Jacob Zuma
    Re dancing Mshini Wama?

    “Trying times need courage and resilience”
    Don’t start crying, it makes no sense,
    Even if its a windy rainy day,
    Cheer up in Renaissance Africa, is what I say.

    “Gloom and despondency
    Have never defeated adversity”
    That certainly sounds like bad poetry
    To me.

    (blacklisted dictator/gorillamovement)

  25. thabo thabo 16 October 2008


  26. Xigalo Hinny Pin Xigalo Hinny Pin 3 December 2008

    Besides all monogous Political-cum-tribal hallucinations I read into politics, I don’t know through which mouth to express my disgust of Mbhazima Shilowa’s being used as a front by a tribal group that deters to maintain it’s lead of the country. I live about 13 kilometres from whence Shilowa was born, I therefore confirm that most, if not all, of what you read in tabloids about his being a non-father to his biological children and MORE, are valid and true. Joking!Did I say I’m joking?

    The man has become a Khosa (I’m sorry for the spelling error)… and I’m disgusted that, even though people can see that COPA (Congress of the Power-hungry analog) is a Khosa thing, they still follow this thing. About 85% of COPA members are Khosa, and they joined this Khosa thing simply because Shilowa is being navigated by his Khosa madam at home. I didn’t say, not because there is no promising Khosa to be the next Tyrant of RSA’s Pirates of the Carribean. No no no!

    As far as I’m concerned this tribal dermacation feel will remain and it might move into the ANC if we continue in the, “And no, I won’t translate what that means for whiteys and other funny types who don’t understand the president-in-waiting’s tongue.”, rationalism.

    Am I rude?

    By the way, I’m halfway your “Some of my best friends are white” masterpiece. Quite intriguing, thumps up!

  27. Katse Katse 14 January 2009

    good analysis, I will be very suprised to hear that you’ve joined Sentletse in the Coping business.

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