Who will win the ANC Chumpathon?

Jeremy Gordin |

19 May 2022

Jeremy Gordin writes on a neck-and-neck race between Nathi Mthethwa and Naledi Pandor

An article from a while ago popped up in my mind this sunny Joey’s morning. I’ve been able to locate a small part of it (the article, not my mind) on my trusty desktop. But roughly 80% has disappeared – zoops! like a cosmonaut into a black hole [1] – behind one of those seemingly inevitable and ubiquitous pay walls.

I’ll tell you what, maibru: bloody pay walls have been more destructive to my freedom of reading rights than even that incident many years ago when some city council apparatchik confiscated my library card for smoking between the K and L shelves in the big public library reading room downtown, hard by Luthuli House or, as some of the twitterati would have it, Lootfreely House [2].

Ah, the depredations and imprecations of time spent living under the ANC regime; sharper than a serpent’s tooth, I tell you; felt more keenly than the gathering winter cold by us oldsters; sufficient to make one seriously consider volunteering for the Ukrainian army, emigrating to Cape Town, or working gratis for the DA and Eskom.

But sufficient foreplay now – as the bearded traveller on the Moscow-Vladivostok train said to the young woman seated opposite him, and with whom he’d exchanged only two sentences during the previous three days.

The article mentioned above was/is headlined “ANC horserace hacks are blind to the real politics of SA” and was written by one of my mentors, Prof. Anton Harber, a person as kind as he is wise, though why he’d want to be so mean to horses, I don’t know [3]

Best as I can tell, the learned prof. is in the article urging our (presumably) younger (and probably swarthier [4]) political hacks not to focus exclusively on the minutiae of ANC internal politics – the “arcane workings of the party structures” – lest they miss the really important issue, the “new” assaults “on our constitution and open [sic] democracy”.


The prof. is probably correct, as he of course generally is, about which end of the field, as the rugby commentators would say, the (journalistic) team should be playing its game.

Yet, leery as I am about disagreeing with him, I can’t help feeling that directing people’s feet solely to the pedagogical side of the street [5] could result in all of us missing a great deal of what is going on in the ruling party.

For example, consider those meetings – the NEC ones, or NWC ones, or the cabinet ones, or whatever they’re labelled – those that the ANC grootkoppe [6] often hold, generally turning an ordinary weekend into a so-called long one (for themselves).

You probably think (as I used to) that at those meetings various serious issues are analysed and discussed, such as what should be done about David Bullard and his outrageous columns, the provocative behaviour of Carl Niehaus, the floods in KZN, or even whether someone charged with a crime should be allowed to stand for office on behalf of the ANC.