We’ve become accustomed to some off-the-wall headlines from across the globe lately, but there are some that are really unlikely to see the light of day. Mondli Makhanya takes a look.
Unions agree to agree to agree
In a sign that 2021 is set to be another extraordinary year, South Africa’s curmudgeonly trade unions have decided to make this year one in which they agree to things.
This was the shock revelation in a survey conducted by Incredulous Surveys research company, due to be publicly released next week.
The survey, conducted among the leaders of the four largest labour federations, found that unions were so tired of being unhappy that they now wanted a year in which they actually became agreeable.
According to the survey results, the year 2020 took such a heavy toll on the emotional energy of unionists that they will do anything to be happy, including by taking the enormous step of not fighting.
Commenting on the results of the survey, SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said it reflected the mood of his organisation. The veteran unionist said Saftu affiliates would this year even refrain from calling government’s policies “neoliberal” and would call the finance minister “Comrade Tito”.
“We all just want harmony this year. We will resume the militant proletarian revolution in 2022,” said Vavi.
SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said his members might even willingly go to their schools and teach pupils this year.
“We will be in class when we need to be and we’ll teach for all the required hours of the day, and we will even mark tests and exam papers on time,” he said.
Labour analyst Reneilwe Tshukudu said that, while it was unthinkable just a year ago, the shocking idea of Sadtu members using school hours to educate children should be regarded as the “new normal”.
Carl Niehaus' mother speaks out
The mother of Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus has spoken out for the first time about how he was obsessed with toy soldiers as a child and how she is not surprised that he still likes to dress up in camouflage as an adult.
Mrs Niehaus said she initially did not raise an eyebrow at her son’s toy soldier obsession as many boys of a certain age liked to play armies. What did disturb her, though, was his inability to outgrow the phase.
“When he was in early teens, he used to stand in front of the mirror and salute himself – even to the point of calling the reflection a general. He would march up and down the garden and even hide in the bushes pretending to be firing at an ‘enemy’, and climb up trees and jump down on a ‘foe’. When he watered the garden, he held the hosepipe like a gun,” she said.
Niehaus’ mother would not talk about her son’s infamous lies about her mortality, saying his relationship with reality was as close as Mzwakhe Mbuli’s relationship with poetry.
Motsoaledi goes on mute
There were scenes of jubilation in government when Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi succumbed to an extreme form of laryngitis, rendering him unable to speak for six months.
Motsoaledi is famous in political circles for his ability to hold five-hour-long conversations with himself – in the presence of other people.
So much so that his senior staff accounted for 11% of the country’s Spotify downloads last year as they need to play music to stay awake during the virtual meetings in the department. The minister will now be reduced to writing notes on group chats.
Cabinet colleagues, the provincial MEC and officials have predicted that productivity will shoot up now that they will be able to work instead of listen to the monologues.
Kaizer Chiefs win cup
After more than a year in Covid-19 lockdown, the St Andrews Anglican Church in Phuthaditjhaba, Free State, held a fête to make up for the funds lost during the period in which there were no services and therefore no collections.
To make matters interesting, the parish leadership divided the congregation according to Premier Soccer League teams and got them to play various board games.
To everyone’s surprise, the Kaizer Chiefs team came out on top and won a plastic trophy. When the news was relayed to Kaizer Chiefs management, it was immediately posted on the club’s website. Amakhosi has not won a trophy since the beginning of Jacob Zuma’s second term.
Ramaphosa has successful spine transplant
The recent highly specialised spine transplant conducted by doctors on President Cyril Ramaphosa at one of South Africa’s top academic hospitals has been deemed a great success all round.
Barely two months since undergoing the operation, ministers and members of the ANC’s national executive committee have reported a remarkable change in the president’s behaviour. They say he has now discovered he has to make decisions, stick to them and even carry them out.
A minister told this publication that the days of Ramaphosa being pushed around by his own charges are over.
“The other day in a Cabinet meeting, we witnessed him giving Nkosazana [Dlamini-Zuma] a steely glare when she tried to behave like she was the boss. He didn’t need to say anything. Nkosazana just looked at her toes like a naughty child who has been bust. It was dead quiet until the president himself broke the awkward silence with a really funny joke about Kenneth Meshoe and golden showers,” said the minister.
A member of the ANC’s national working committee said there was even speculation in party ranks that Ramaphosa may have sought the services of a traditional healer who empowered him with courage, such was the fear he was now instilling in his opponents.
“The Ace Magashule crowd is now quite scared of him. When they see him approaching, it’s like a Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper seeing a Pirates striker coming towards him. I really didn’t know that a new spine could make such a profound difference,” said the seasoned ANC leader.
The identity of the spine donor has not been disclosed.
Brian Molefe's shebeen located
It has been a mystery that has dogged the world for years. In fact, the mystery of the exact location of the Saxonwold Shebeen, where former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe used to drink with the Guptas, is up there with the legend of the elusive Loch Ness monster; the missing Malaysian Airlines aeroplane; the JFK conspiracy; Bheki Cele’s hatred of alcohol; Donald Trump’s complexion; the identity of Jack the Ripper; and what species Boris Johnson mutated from.
But now, thanks to the lockdown and the police crackdown on outlets violating the booze ban, the Saxonwold Shebeen has been located.
Individuals close to impeccable sources who have intimate knowledge of developments say that it is a favourite haunt of female celebrity has-beens, hence the term “she-been”.
Our informants say it is in the back yard of a former musician who lives in Saxonwold. Apparently, she opened her doors to other has-beens to come and reminisce about their glory days and mope about the state of their careers.
It has been revealed that, on a good night, you will find musicians PJ Powers, Sharon Dee, Karin Kortje, Patricia Lewis, Zahara, Amor Vittone and Rebecca Malope playing each others’ songs late into the night. Usually joining them in drowning-sorrows sessions are has-been actresses such as Lillian Dube, Hlubi Mboya, Tina Jaxa, Xolile Tshabalala, Brümilda van Rensburg, Sarah-Lee Odendaal, Keketso Semoko, Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Thoko Ntshinga.
It is not clear how Molefe discovered the secret society, but sources say he soon became a favourite patron as he used his Gupta loot to bless the has-beens.
*Although the location of the shebeen is known to this publication, the editor-in-chief has censored the reporter and instructed him not to reveal it out of respect for the dignity of the has-beens.
Bathabile speaks on chewing habit
ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini has disclosed how she acquired her non-stop chewing habit, thereby revealing the origins of her trademark behaviour.
During her tenure as social development minister, Dlamini fascinated all and sundry with her ability to chew consistently while walking, sitting, thinking (although not much brain use ever happened), talking and singing struggle songs. This feat perplexed South Africans so much that an in-depth documentary was commissioned by the SABC, but it could not be completed due to the public broadcaster’s financial woes.
In an exclusive interview, Dlamini said her humble rural beginnings were the origin of the habit.
“As a young girl, I used to look after my family’s cattle after coming back from school and during holidays. I did not have many friends and the cattle therefore became my closest buddies. I would watch them masticating and think, ‘that is a real cool thing’. While other children were learning human habits from their mates and elders, I identified more closely with my bovine friends,” she related nostalgically.
By the time she realised that it was abnormal to masticate as a human being, the habit had been cemented and she has never been able to kick it. Dlamini does not regret it, though, and says she views her chewing as a tribute to the cows and bulls who shaped her personality: “I am indebted to them for who I am. Those two attributes woven into one made me the leader of people that I became.”