In the late evening of the 31st March 2009 I suffered a major heart attack and was admitted early the following morning to the intensive care unit of the Linksfield Clinic in Johannesburg. At 48 years of age and despite my lifestyle it took me by surprise I can tell you. While I thought it was just a case of reflux when I visited my doctor Sholomo Levine at the Bagleystone Clinic he was certain it was heart not hernia. After a quick electrocardiograph he booked me into hospital where I spent the next 5 days.
That’s not the end of it, next Tuesday I will be having stents inserted as the next part of the recovery process.
All of this I guess needs to put into context when reading my articles over the period 6th April 2009 to the 9th April 2009. As stunned as I was at events happening in my own life I could not work out which faction of the ANC was pissing me off more; former president Mbeki and the revelations made by the NPA or ANC President Jacob Zuma and the methods employed in order to release that information and have the charges dropped. Both sides got it with both barrels.
Even though I had been told to take it easy before the stents (something I’ll never be good at) by not only the doctors but also my editor at the Mail & Guardian I believed that if I was going to drop then best it be while trying to protect our constitutional democracy than reading the latest Grisham. If I was going to die then there was no way I was going to allow this ongoing nonsense to pass without comment.
The strange thing was that having more time on my hands afforded me more of an opportunity to read up on events taking place and the analysis thereon than I usually have. It also allowed me the opportunity to gauge not only the parties’ intention but also sentiment.
As I have always done – perhaps even more so – I said what I felt needed to be said.
So on the 10th April 2009 and with half the Alliance running around looking for vengeance from the other half I once again said what needed to be said. Calm down, take a pace back and start focusing on the final run in to the election.
While I know none of you knew I had had a heart attack or am facing procedures next week I was still interested to read some of the comments to my call for calm. My best was that someone had sent the heavies around and I was now towing the line. If they had, then short of a bullet they would have received the harshest article ever written in South Africa’s 350-odd year history.
Even better was one genius telling me that it’s too late I have been too hard on Zuma up to now and I am beyond redemption.
Let me break the news: the Alliance is now less than two weeks away from an election. The fact of the matter is that even the bitter faction-fighting has to pause to take that into consideration. Unlike the author of that comment I am not a member of the party, am not interested in a place within the new administration and will continue to hold it to account post election regardless.
In addition I was pleased to note that Mondli Makhanya, the editor of the Sunday Times, has subsequently written an article calling for this cycle of vengeance between the Mbeki and Zuma factions to stop. As he points out this battle has “fractured our nation”.
This does not mean we must not ascertain what has gone on within our state organisations and the abuse thereof by politicians. In order to put an end to this continuing or being repeated, full investigations must still be carried out. Those who have abused our system must be called to account. That will now require a step back by the NPA, NIA and judiciary to ascertain what has gone on and charge offenders.
In terms of the opposition I confirmed their role is to batter the government and ruling party while the Alliance must focus on the election.
I repeat that call and sincerely hope to read your comments.