Hein Kaiser
Journalist
3 minute read
9 Jul 2021
9:52 am

This week in SA politics: Zuma and Niehaus arrested, DA drops grammar ball

Hein Kaiser

When DA leader John Steenhuisen blocks you, you know you've arrived. Politics this week has been a rough ride on Twitter.

DA Leader John Steenhuisen. Picture Source Headtopics.com

When Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen blocks you on Twitter, you have made it.

Since first going on a Twitter blockade tirade two years ago, when he trended for not having a degree, Steenhuisen’s dislike for any criticism seems to continue. His social media timeline must be populated by a legion of yes-men by now.

I accidentally found out that I was blocked while researching political tweets. Steenhuisen’s firm Twitter hand was likely in response to uncomfortable questions I asked, that he never answered, rather deflected, earlier this year. That’s his politics.

When John Steenhuisen blocks you, you know you’ve made it.

The DA website mistakenly lists the respect for the right of a vibrant civil society and a free media to function independently. In addition, Steenhuisen and his party frequently call for transparency from government. But should people in glass houses really be throwing stones?

But if you have ever wondered who is really in charge of the party, Helen Zille’s biography on Twitter makes it clear. On it, the party’s federal Chair refers to herself as GodZille. She has not blocked me on Twitter, yet.

Is GodZille in charge of the DA?

The party continued exercising its right of free speech online this week, pointing out an accounting error in Gauteng. Ironically, it made an error.

And while the accounting error that inspired the vociferous tweet can be resolved, the DA could not fix its grammar. Spot the mistake: “Gauteng looses R6 Million of taxpayers’ money, after Provincial Treasury incorrectly processed $20 Million instead of the rand value of R20 Million for Microsoft fees.”

While the ANC-led Gauteng government erred in accounting, the DA got its grammar wrong

All said and done, it has been a dramatic week in South African politics as the former first citizen of the country, Jacob Zuma, was finally arrested for contempt of court. After evading almost 800 counts of corruption in total, who would have thought that annoying Justice Ray Zondo would become Zuma’s golden ticket?

The lockdown-regulation flouting cohort of supporters outside Nkandla was led by the ever-tweeting Carl Niehaus, who shares his antics faster on Twitter than the spread of Covid. His tweet, on being released after detention for not complying to lockdown regulations outside Estcourt prison, is headed with the rallying cry of Frelimo during history’s Mozambican independence war.

However, “A Luta Continua”, meaning the struggle continues, is only half the phrase. It completes with “vitória é certa” or victory is certain. Perhaps this omission may be more of an admission in Niehaus’ quest for social media relevance.

From the right-now political wilderness, suspended ANC-secretary general Ace Magashule tweeted some wisdom to the Jacob Zuma Foundation, saying: “Be strong now because things will get better. It might be stormy now, but it cannot rain forever. We soldier on.”

But it may soon rain on Magashule’s parade as he still has to face a judge in August and account for 74 counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering, amongst others. His charge sheet is not as impressive as Zuma’s and coming in at only around 10% of the total number of counts levelled against his leader, he will have a lot of catching up to do. Politics in South Africa.

But Zuma remains better off than Mango Airlines employees. And while South African prisoners do not earn salaries per say, they do get rewarded for labour and attending rehabilitation programmes.

Staff at the embattled state-owned budget airline have not been paid at all since end May, the fruits of their labour amounting to bounced debit orders and lapsing policies.

If all 749 Mango staff each had only two bounced debit orders, with fees as high as R80 from the banks for unpaid debits, it could mean up to R119,840 in losses for the cash-strapped staff.

Each prisoner costs taxpayers around R10,080 a month, so Mango employees’ bank fees would be enough to have financed 11 months of Zuma’s prison term.