Gigaba falling on his sword? That’s just not SA’s strong suit

Ideas

Gigaba falling on his sword? That’s just not SA’s strong suit

Why would he walk away in disgrace when so many wicked cretins in his own party are staying?

Columnist


Reader, do not scream. I am about to write about Malusi Gigaba without making a pun about his private life.
I know. It’s weird. It almost feels as if I’m breaking some sort of South African journalistic law by not stooping down to pick the lowest-hanging fruit in the national conversation. And holy Benny Hill, Batman, the fruit is low: some of the sexual innuendos labouring across our headlines would make a 10-year-old look like Oscar Wilde.
I suppose it was to be expected. Various commissions will still decide if Gigaba is one of the people who did the bidding of the Zupta thieves, but public opinion is clear: we can’t trust Gigaba any further than we can throw him in his shiny blue suit, and any misfortune that befalls him is cause for mirth and revelry.
What was confusing, however, was another idea that we saw everywhere this week: the curious notion that Gigaba would “fall on his sword”.
Some used it to wring the last nanolitre of comedy out of the sex tape brouhaha. Most, however, seemed to be suggesting, seriously and without a hint of irony, that Gigaba might resign.
I blame Nhlanhla Nene. One resignation and suddenly we’re all apparently trapped in an episode of Downton Abbey, expecting people to tender resignations for forgetting to change the water in the begonias in the drawing room or for placing the fish knife at two degrees off the vertical.
One resignation, however, doesn’t make a moral regeneration. Because, of course, a moral regeneration requires morals to regenerate, and a culture in which resignations are the standard consequence of scandal or incompetence.
And the truth of the matter is that you and I would struggle to name five captains of industry or senior politicians who have ever expressed regret for their actions and then resigned in disgrace.
No. We do not fall on swords in this country. If we’ve cocked up spectacularly, and our careers are a careening fireball, we might lie down on the carpet and then carefully roll onto a very blunt letter opener until the journalists go away.
But actually end a career?
Why? Why fall on your sword when all you have to do is stand upright and breathe long enough and you’ll either get your old job back or be moved sideways into something just as lucrative?
And honestly, why should Gigaba walk away when so many wicked cretins in his own party are staying?
Why should he walk the plank while the ANC keeps Qedani Mahlangu – she who oversaw the deaths of 143 psychiatric patients in the Life Esidimeni scandal – snugly embedded as a member of its Gauteng provincial executive committee?
Why should he fall on anything other than a pile of money when Ace Magashule, Bathabile Dlamini, David Mabuza, Jessie Duarte and all the rest are still living off our taxes?
No. If Gigaba goes it will be because he is pushed. A sword might fall on him. But fall on his sword? Now that’s funny.

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.