Howard Feldman

It’s time for the adults in the room to grow up

2017-02-09 09:54
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Mom and dad are fighting again.

Even though they still smile and pretend that they love each other, it’s only in front of the bank manager.

It’s clear that they make-believe because he is nervous about their bond payments. And he is watching them to make sure that they don’t fall apart. So it’s important that we all play along. It’s not difficult, because when they speak lovingly to each other everyone is happy for a bit.

But it never lasts.

As much as the ANC family tries to show unity, everyone knows that you can’t fool us children. Especially when the relationship is so far gone.

The good thing is that unlike the dissolution of some other marriages, like in Syria, Somalia and the Sudan, there is limited physical violence associated with this divorce. The carnage is not the death of hundreds of thousands of souls and the destruction of cities, but rather the loss of opportunity, of potential and the waste of it all.

Like high blood pressure, it’s a silent killer and the effects will be evident in areas and at times when it is least expected. The damage is not contained. It’s just harder to see. As in any separation, the fallout is still significant and ugly. And it’s the kids who get most hurt.

The ANC is at war with itself. Everyone knows that. And as is the case with many divorces, the battle culminates with the financial. Sadly, in this case no one seems to really care about the children, but everyone seems to want custody of the bank accounts. Everyone wants control of the Treasury. And will stop at nothing to achieve this.

Then there is the issue of the friends. Dad and mom are popular and have a lot of friends who care about them (or at least pretend to). Who gets to keep whom? Some are obvious: Pravin was never dad’s friend so that is no challenge. Auntie Mbete always was, so that is clear but Uncle Gwede seems to want to be everyone’s “bestie”. This is confusing and will most likely result in him being friends with neither. But he knows it’s time to choose sides and it’s best he does.

Before he is laughed out of the house.

Dad also has friends in all the right places. Or so mom says. That is scary because they are very loyal and will do anything for him. We have seen it. Shaun Abrahams is a favourite but he has been quiet lately. The Guptas are close to him too. So is Brian Molefe but he seems to be trying to reinvent himself after the whole Saxonwold thing. Dad said he didn’t handle it that well. He definitely shouldn’t have cried.

No one likes a cry baby.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you,” he says, “Cry and you cry alone.”

Cyril is quieter than dad. He is not one to count anything out loud. But he has strength and determination and has survived what is and has been a very difficult marriage – even when dad tried to blame him for the death of the miners at Marikana. He has chosen his battles and been circumspect as to what to say in public. Because if anything angers dad, it’s lack of loyalty. Especially in public. Dad might dance a jig and laugh uproariously, but no one is fooled. And we are all afraid. 

No one fights quite like family does. Especially when there is so much a stake. As the ANC turn on each other and war for control of Treasury, the justice system, and the party itself, it would serve them to pause. To stop and to pay attention to the children of the country who are watching in horror as everything that have come to love, slowly gets ripped apart.

It’s time for the adults in the room to grow up. 

- Howard Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

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