On the campaign trail: Tears for Msholozi

2014-04-23 09:54

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Tuesday. We’re in Embalenhle. Embalenhle does not live up to its name. Embalenhle’s a horrible scab of a place.

Embalenhle was built in the 1970s by the Nats. They needed somewhere to house the slave labour for Sasol. Sasol was meant to produce enough fuel to run the apartheid war machine in the face of international isolation and sanctions.

Mbalenhle’s ugly, but nowhere near as garish as the Graceland (I kid you not) casino perched on the side of the road between Secunda town and the series of mines and dumps linking the town proper and Embalenhle.

The Croc’s not in Embalenhle. Lucky bastard. The Croc’s hanging out at St Faith’s courtesy of a use-it-or-lose-it leave edict from above. Fair enough. We’re wage slaves, after all.

I’m teamed up with Gary for the CiC’s second last week before D Day. That’s May 7. Gary’s a shooter of note. Gary’s a young cat but an old hand. I boogied with Gary in Polokwane when the Commander in Chief removed the previous Commander in Chief.

We arrive at Embalenhle ahead of the CiC. We’re outside the building that houses the ANC Govan Mbeki constituency office and Amigos Finance.

Double Dee Mabuza, the cat who runs the ANC in Mpumalanga, and Mpumalanga, and Keith Khoza are in the ANC campaign truck.

They’re handing out ANC amaberete and T-shirts at a rate of knots to get the punters yellowed and blacked (and reded) ahead of the CiC’s arrival. The skippers have the CiC’s head (with grin) and Vote ANC on the back. Mpumalanga’s like that. One hundred percent Zuma, but no beach.

Double Dee’s a cool cat. Double Dee’s got a groove going with the T-shirt and beret distribution. Double Dee’s working the mike. Keith’s got the shirts. Another comrade’s shovelling the berets.

Double Dee’s got no time for con artists. He insists that the comrades ugoga amaskipa so that nobody comes back for a second. Double Dee knows a comrade from a comtsotsi.

We do the door to door to thing. Ward 19 Govan Mbeki Local Municipality. We hit the Shabangu home. Gary and I are waiting when the CiC clocks in.

The Shabangus are hyped as hell. Even Baba Reuben Shabangu, a 76-year-old former court interpreter who’s deaf and clearly battling with all that’s going on in his modest home in Extension 1.

President Jacob Zuma greets 76-year-old Reuben Shabangu during his visit to Embalenhle on Tuesday (April 23 2014). Picture: Muntu Vilakazi/City Press

The CiC breezes in with full entourage in absolute campaign mode. The CiC greets Baba Shabangu. It takes a while to get a response. The timer is lost, overcome by it all. I don’t blame him. Double Dee starts talking about the old man crying tears because Msholozi is in the house.

The CiC looks uncomfortable. And embarrassed for Mr Shabangu. The CiC sees the old man is struggling. The CiC does the right thing and starts to get the hell out of Dodge. Wants to leave the old man alone with his dignity intact.

Then a weird thing happens. Baba Shabangu greets the CiC back with a Nxamalala, Siyabonga. Zuma looks relieved.

He’s not the only one.

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