Friends & Friction: Like a blind dog in a meat market

2014-06-17 10:00

You have to hand it to Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

He has single-handedly defeated the ANC and created the impression that this government is unable to create a predictable and productive environment in which businesses can thrive.

We can bury our heads in the sand, but we cannot deny the strike has devastated small businesses that feed off the mining industry.

Poor President Jacob Zuma – 50 years from now, no one will remember the unionists or the mining bosses. His Nkandla palace will be in ruins and a monument to his failures.

If popular soapie Muvhango is anything to go by, it will be the subject of family feuds for generations to come, a bit like the way the Porsche family had a bitter and public feud about who should control Volkswagen.

The rest of South Africa’s future is not as certain. The prospects for mining remain unclear. Mathunjwa has already destroyed the career of the new minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, in the first month of his five-year term.

In his book, The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins says: “The actions you take during the first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.”

Ramatlhodi tried to mediate and failed. He may have done it half-heartedly or was told to stop, as some rumours suggest. Too bad. He should have heeded the Shona saying: “Kudye mbwa hudye bono” (if you choose to eat a dog then eat a big one).

It means that when you decide to do something unpopular, get the maximum benefit.

If you order dog shank, ask them to cook it slow and long until it is soft and melts in your mouth. Be prepared to leave your best table manners behind. Ask for an extra-large white napkin.

Scholars of etiquette say you must never wipe your lips with your napkin during the meal, but I suppose all is forgiven when you’re dealing with the dog on your?plate.

We have a term in South Africa that goes: “Angeke ang’tshele usibanibani wahlulwa ukuthi nokuthi” (So and so can’t tell me a thing, he was defeated by such and such). It is a South African malady and is incurable. So by failing to finish the “dog”, Ramatlhodi has lost his power.

Understandably, the minister’s hands were tied. If Amcu wins, the ANC’s partner, the National Union of Mineworkers, will be seen as the loser. So Amcu must be seen to lose at all costs. Don’t shake your head. This is politics and has nothing to do with kindness.

Carl von Clausewitz put it coldly when he said: “The mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.”

So people will starve, small businesses will close down and feuds will continue. All the while, South Africa will suffer. Don’t despair, history never wastes a good crisis.

A new leader will emerge and it won’t be Mathunjwa.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.