As the Al Jazeera Head to Head interview seeped into the country’s consciousness this week like poop through a nappy, the consensus was clear: Baleka Mbete had embarrassed herself. Her evasive replies to Mehdi Hasan’s questions were shocking. The whole thing was an inexplicable blunder.

I disagree. First, I’m not sure you can embarrass yourself if there is nothing left to embarrass. Perhaps, five years ago, it would have been embarrassing for the former activist to reflect on how eagerly she had undermined democracy and the rule of law to make sure the Sun King Zuma didn’t have to answer questions about Nkandla. But now? To be publicly embarrassed requires a reputation that is generally intact. After half a decade of being at best a passive enabler and at worst a vocal supporter of a gang of looters, ideas like embarrassment no longer apply.

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