SIMON LINCOLN READER: Only a matter of time before ANC leaps to Faith Muthambi's defence
There is a particularly menacing comet called 67P orbiting the sun that is about 4km wide. Upon learning that a collision would be fatal, I swiftly composed a letter to some eminent Nasa scientists enquiring whether its course could be altered to somehow position Earth within its path. This would ensure we’d never have to suffer the humiliation of witnessing members of the ANC protecting Faith Muthambi when she is hauled to the courts.
Just what was Muthambi doing at the time of Phumla Williams’s deposition at the Zondo commission? Well, I can tell you what she wasn’t doing: she wasn’t consulting the local wizard to cast a spell upon Williams’s tongue — that’s the kind of thing Edward Zuma will encourage his nephew Duduzane to do before he appears.
The Zondo commission is quite some distance from the Makhado municipality where, as a manager in 2005, she was accused of selling a luxury vehicle belonging to the council — and dishing out extravagantly to a lover contracted to build roads he didn’t.
She was, I’m convinced, more relaxed, unbothered, possibly shovelling mashed potatoes and gravy into her mouth with her fingers, as she is habituated to, not even halting to click her tongue dismissively at the thought of the proceedings in Parktown. Her furious denial, published on Tuesday, appears to have been crafted even before Williams took the stand, no doubt with the assistance of some northern suburbs shyster.
The Zondo commission is quite some distance from the Makhado municipality where, as a manager in 2005, she was accused of selling a luxury vehicle belonging to the council — and dishing out extravagantly to a lover contracted to build roads he didn’t. These, by standards she would later set and frequently surpass, were minor infractions, to say nothing of her dreadful incompetence as a minister.
But the problem now is not Muthambi’s existence, or her history, or even her central role in what the sensible describe as the "stolen future" — the broke institutions and misappropriated taxes absent at a time when the state so desperately needs them. Were Muthambi to leave us today, we’d still have people like Hillary Clinton or Linda Sarsour — or my favourite left-wing squealer, Owen Jones — to ensure our faith in humanity was persistently challenged.
Because despite the best efforts of President Cyril Ramaphosa to adjust the commission’s terms of reference to include the prospect of criminal charges should testimonies warrant such, there will come a point where we are faced with a familiar exchange, led by the ANC, that seeks comparisons between the past and the present, where the governing party will shift its loyalties accordingly.
It is again taking place under our noses: last weekend it was revealed that a member of the notorious Eastern Cape Guptas, otherwise known as the Watson family, has been implicated in allegedly bribing ANC MP Vincent Smith. The ANC immediately leapt to Smith’s defence, just as Jackie Selebi did for Glenn Agliotti and the Zuma family and others did for the Gupta family — exercises that illustrate the link between party loyalty and impunity.
It may appear there is diminished support for Muthambi, but this is temporary and will resume when Hlaudi Motsoeneng emerges from practising for his own trial by performing magic tricks to punters in rural Free State taverns. Motsoeneng, "media mogul" Mzwanele Manyi and many other ANC officials of the state capture profile will surface again and defiantly wrinkle their noses as they project the circumstances between people like Muthambi and someone like Markus Jooste.
Observing this yet again will be a tragedy I do not wish upon even the most self-righteous, Trump-hating white liberals in properties along Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard. I’m afraid it will have to be a big, ugly rock.
• Reader is an executive at financial technology firm Fourex in London. He is currently writing a book on British, South African and European politics.