Cyril Ramaphosa wasn’t expecting a 10-minute ovation when he walked into the state of the nation (Sona) after-party — that hadn’t been compulsory since the day Thabo Mbeki left office, leaving behind a 450-page thank-you note and a soggy pipe-stem so that his saliva could be used to clone him once humanity was ruled by philosopher-kings — but some muted oohs and ahs, and perhaps a smattering of heartfelt applause might have been nice. Except now the goddamned French had found a billion barrels of paydirt in Mossel Bay, and Cyril felt like chopped liver.

He paused for a moment, hands on hips, chin jutting out, hoping that a regal pose in the doorway might jolt the comrades away from their phones. But all were hunched over their screens, googling property in Hartenbos and frantically trying to work out what a 10% kickback was on a trillion petro-dollars. He wanted to scream and throw his sausage roll at the wall, but then he remembered Jacob Zuma doing both those things when the nuclear deal was cancelled, and how wretched it had looked. Fikile Mbalula appeared at his elbow, doing jazz-hands and softly humming Despacito as per his new brief as party morale officer. Thank God for Fiks. You could always rely on him and his old-world sycophancy to pep you up when you needed a boost. “That was amazing,” said Fikile, accelerating his jazz-hands until blobs of humus were flying off his fingertips. “I especially loved the part about ...” “Shhh!” hissed David Mabuza, materialising out of a shadow with his palm over his cellphone. “I’m on the...

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