The Political Art of Cheerleading
Mail and Guardian
Niren Tolsi reports on the support network that swung into action for ANC president Jacob Zuma's court appearance this week
A reserve team of cheerleaders wheeled themselves out for ANC president Jacob Zuma's appearance in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday.
Zuma was in court in order for various trial dates to be set. Political heavies like ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, ANC provincial chairperson Zweli Mkhize and SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande were in attendance. However, the public gallery appeared more the domain of the wannabes and the wanna-be-seens.
These included provincial health minister Peggy Nkonyeni -- possibly there to pick up tips for her own defence against corruption charges relating to her department's acquisition of an over-priced cancer detecting machine.
Also present were politicians such as KZN provincial agriculture minister Mtholephi Mthimkulu and eThekwini mayor Obed Mlaba, whose political standing appears to have waned during, and in the aftermath of, the Thabo Mbeki-Zuma battle for leadership of the ANC.
In addition, in the gallery was SA National Civics Organisation Ruth Bhengu who, every time she takes the stage at a public rally, appears to be auditioning for the role of the Bride of Chucky.
Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi, a flash-bulb glutton dressed up as lamb, was also there to lend support. As Rajbansi doffed his toupee in the direction of Mantashe, the formidable ANC chairperson could be heard asking him: "When are you going to allow us on to one of your platforms?"
Judge Leona Theron rubber-stamped an agreement between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Zuma's legal team, which provisionally set down August 25 as the date when Zuma's application for a permanent stay of prosecution from the criminal charges he faces will be heard.
The criminal case against Zuma (which includes charges of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering) was also adjourned to August 25.
Zuma's co-accused, Thint (PTY) Limited and Thint Holding (South Africa) Limited, will have their application for a permanent stay of execution heard on June 24 and 25.
ANC lawyer Asif Latib confirmed that the party would join Zuma as amicus curiae (friends of the court) for both the high court application and Zuma's appeal to the Constitutional Court to have Supreme Court of Appeal judge Louis Harms's January verdict overturned.
Harms had overturned high court Judge Chris Nicholson's findings that there was a political conspiracy behind the NPA's criminal charges against Zuma. Nicholson had thrown out these charges and instructed the NPA to reconstitute them.
Latib said Zuma's criminal charges were "not in the interests of the nation. The ANC, as custodian of the interests of the nation as the ruling party, believes it is not in the interests of the country. This is what we will try to prove in court."
Outside court meanwhile, a crowd of close to 3 000 people *1 listened intently to ANCYL president Julius Malema's Alice in Wonderland thesis on morality and pride, responded to ANC campaign head Fikile Mbalula's exhortations to jive and chanted various slogans including "Hands off our president! Hands off!"
Wouldn't a polygamist with the reputation for easy-going camaraderie and pumping flesh want the opposite?
With acknowledgements to Niren Tolsi and Mail and Guardian.