Hlaudi for president? I wouldn’t put it past him. In SA anything ...

Ideas

Hlaudi for president? I wouldn’t put it past him. In SA anything goes

Don't laugh: If you’re ambitious, possess the hypnotic charisma of Nosferatu, and have no shame, SA is a land of milk and honey

Columnist


Hlaudi Motsoeneng says his new party is “going to eat change”. This makes a refreshing shift towards austerity: When he ran the SABC he ate many millions of rand, he and his cronies letting the change dribble out of their mouths and clatter down over their gravy-stained bibs onto the floor.
Not everyone, however, was laughing at Motsoeneng on Thursday afternoon, when he launched his new political party, the African Content Movement. In fact, some wondered if the media attention was ethical.
After all, if a dazed-looking megalomaniac who regularly referred to himself in the third person called a press conference to announce that he was Napoleon, would you report on it or would you try to find a doctor and notify his family? Motsoeneng, some feel, doesn’t need votes: He needs help.
I agree that Motsoeneng needs help, but not in the way they mean.
SA has a very high unemployment rate, and if you have no skills and have been dragged off the ANC teat, it is almost impossible to keep yourself in shiny blue suits and pointy leather shoes. Launching a political party is an obvious entrepreneurial step.
And who knows? If Bathabile Dlamini can still be a cabinet minister and Nomvula Mokonyane can be tasked with environmental affairs just as scientists explain that climate change is about to end us, who’s to say Hlaudi can’t win the 40,000-ish votes he needs for a seat in parliament and another five years living on the taxpayer’s dime?
No, if you’re ambitious, possess the hypnotic charisma of Nosferatu, and are unencumbered by a conscience or a sense of shame, SA is a land of milk and honey!
I’m barely joking, by the way. Ten years ago, the prospect of a wrecking ball like Motsoeneng running for president would have been the stuff of pure satire. But that was before Donald Trump, Brexit, and the mainstreaming of 6% faux-revolutionaries and 0.006% racists like Andile Mngxitama. These days, anything goes, so you might as well shoot for the moon.
Besides, are those 40,000 votes really so unattainable? In the 2014 general election, the National Freedom Party got 288,000 votes and six seats in parliament, presumably thanks to aged, shortsighted racists who just read “National” and “Party”, and over-zealous IFP voters who saw “Freedom Party” and banged their X down without looking more closely. Hell, Hlaudi might be pushed over the line simply by having started his party’s name with “African”: All he needs is 0.4% of ANC voters to put their X in the wrong box and he’s golden.
The logo of the African Content Movement is two hands, each missing a finger, with the outline of Africa hovering over them. It is hard to tell whether the hands have just tossed the continent into the sky, or are about to drop it as it plunges earthwards.
Will ACM rise or fall? Is “Content” a noun or an adjective? We’ll have to wait and see.
But at least we know one thing for sure: Whatever happens, Motsoeneng will eat change until the main course returns.

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