The Afrofascist battering ram

2008-03-15 00:00

If the African National Congress was a good old Natal high school, Jacob Zuma would have won full colours for contact sports at prize giving. For there is no doubt that his function at the Polokwane Test match was to overwhelm the effete intellectualism of the East German-trained Mbeki team by volunteering to be the battering ram of the “left”.

Now, to continue with the high school metaphor, rugger buggers with long memories will recall the tendency, only recently abandoned, to keep star rugby players in matric until they turned 20, or maybe even 21. Then, so sadly, they were discarded, garish honours blazers their only reward. A few became groundsmen on the sports fields of the nation, others joined the police, while some — the lucky ones — joined the Parks Board and became sharpshooting poacher hunters.

This, in short, was their terrible destiny, the destiny of all battering rams, which, having smashed down the portcullis, would be chucked into the moat and forgotten as the golden horde rushed in intent on plunder. Nobody needs a battering ram for the final victory.

The question now on ANC watchers’ lips is this: what is going to happen to Zuma?

Ever since the Polokwane play-off, the Zuma team has marshalled itself behind its leader, elbowing aside the former elite.

Zuma himself has made many statements only to retract them later, sometimes with the help of his friends. His promises for future ANC action seem to be tailored by his speech writer to fit the specific audience alone. The contradictions are largely of interest to intellectuals and the hostiles, being lost on the broad mass of his support.

This is the essence of populism: the strong personality with big promises, the absence of articulated policies, the replacement of thought by slogans and sound bytes, the publically stated subservience to a mysterious higher authority which alone determines the populist’s power, mediates his behaviour and grants privilege and licence to his morals.

So what is going to happen to this muddled populist front nominally led by Zuma? God knows I’m no psychologist and even less of a shaman, but having gazed with interest into the entrails of a roadkill pigeon, certain images are beginning to form. Image number one suggests that Zuma will soon be replaced by those elegant gents in the smoke-filled rooms.

On their own, of course, these heavy cats could never have mobilised the Polokwane masses as well as the singing, dancing, much married and eternally fertile Zuma. Hell no, these sterile dudes with real power are waiting for the battering ram to collapse into the moat, so allowing the emergence of the next elite, willing and able to take on whatever it is that the ANC regards as its manifest destiny.

Of course Franz von Papen and his chums back in Berlin 1933 had similar ideas and expectations.

And just look what happened to their battering ram.

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