Jan Gerber

#MiniBudget2017: What you didn't see on TV: Faction fights? What faction fights?

2017-10-25 20:15
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in Cape Town after he delivered his maiden mini budget. (Photo: Aletta Harrison, News24)

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in Cape Town after he delivered his maiden mini budget. (Photo: Aletta Harrison, News24)

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Cape Town - While reports suggest things are getting nasty in the ANC's leadership race as December nears, it was all smiles, hugs and kisses on Wednesday when the party's bigwigs bumped into each other in the National Assembly chamber for the Medium Term Budget Speech by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Hot on the heels of ANC MP Pravin Gordhan – who for once on budget or mini budget day doesn't have to make a speech - Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma entered the chamber shortly before 14:00.

She had a chat with ANC MP Connie September, whose yellow jacket matched Dlamini-Zuma's head scarf's sunny exuberance. After being hugged by Minister of Rural Affairs and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula greeted her with a kiss.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma entered the chamber.

Before reaching his seat next to Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa stops for a chat with his main opponent for the ANC's presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The two talked for quite a while, with Ramaphosa leaning back in laughter a few times.

The deputy president then took his seat, next to Zuma, who if some people connected to Ramaphosa's campaign is to be believed, plans to fire him based on a report that he spies for "the West". 

No handshake, but the two spoke, Zuma gesticulating with his hands, and both men laughing. They continued in this vein until Speaker Baleka Mbete came in and the honourable members all stood for a moment of prayer or reflection. When this was done, they resumed their chat, all smiles. Zuma enjoyed whatever Ramaphosa said (maybe a joke about the CIA?) so much that he slapped his desk in front of him. 

But then the EFF wiped the smile from Zuma's face. 

Gigaba didn't even reach the podium before EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi jumped up to protest against the minister from delivering his maiden mini budget, blaming him for state capture.

Zuma's expression darkened, and stared in front of him with a stark face, sitting back in his bench as the EFF MPs and Mbete had their to and fro. Meanwhile, Gigaba took a seat next to Zuma's waiting for his chance to speak.

As the kerfuffle between the EFF and Mbete continued – with Gigaba being compared to Zuma's Gupta-linked son Duduzane, Zuma leant over to his finance minister for a quick word and a smile.

The EFF's slurs didn't visibly ruffle Gigaba's feathers. 

Ramaphosa opened his tablet, and Zuma's face turned stony again.

To Ramaphosa's right sat Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, and to his right, sat Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu. Three of the candidates contesting the ANC's top job sitting in a row, thus.

Gigaba smiled when the EFF finally left the chamber by their own volition. A smiling Sisulu leant over to have a chat with Radebe. 

As Gigaba started his speech, Zuma pursed his lips, Ramaphosa looked at him, his tablet open before him, Radebe had his eyes seemingly on his tablet and Sisulu was writing a note by hand.

About 15 minutes into Gigaba's speech, Ramaphosa was eyeing his tablet arms crossed.

The presidential eyelids seemingly grew heavy. Zuma was sitting slumped on his bench, his head lolling towards his right shoulder. 

After a while, Zuma's head shot upwards, and he poured himself a glass of water. After a sip, he rummaged in a pocket, from which a roll of sweets appeared. He offered one to Ramaphosa, who accepted with a big grin.

Read more on:    parliament  |  anc  |  mini budget 2017  |  pravin gordhan  |  jacob zuma  |  malusi gigaba  |  cape town


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