Ace has been stellenbosched, but his Hermanus lie was hugely impressive
While not a patch on the Mbeki-era lies, Magashule’s B-grade effort in a province where he doesn't matter, deserves grudging respect
During the South African War, British officers who were considered a liability at the front were sent to Stellenbosch, the idea being that if they were shuffling papers and filing reports they couldn’t accidentally lose the war. This practice soon became a verb: if you had been “stellenbosched” you could assume that everyone thought you were terrible at your job, a liability to others, and that your superiors wanted to send you far away without actually firing you.
Ace Magashule has been stellenbosched, almost literally. Sent to the Western Cape to campaign for the ANC, the godfather of the Free State is pootling about in the leafy backwaters of a province that holds him and his party in such low regard already that he can’t really do much more damage. Yes, journalists will throng about him and residents will gape, but that’s to be expected when the living dead lurch up to your house and peer into your fridge.
It is a measure of the man, however, that he is still managing to make headlines. Carefully and specifically sent somewhere to be invisible, he has donned a rhetorical jumpsuit bedazzled with sequins that spell out “BULLSHIT!” and is producing the sort of razzle-dazzle you’d expect from a seller of weapons-grade snake oil.
By now you will have read the story about his visit to Hermanus, and then read it again to make sure you weren’t hallucinating. But you weren’t: Magashule did go to a community of poor white residents and tell them that the DA was racist for wanting to evict them from privately owned land, and that they would get their land even if the ANC had to expropriate it.
I have written before about the sad decline in the quality of the ANC’s lies in recent years. In the golden era of Thabo Mbeki, the lies had a confident pomposity and brashness to them, as if their creators almost believed them themselves. They were proud lies; self-confident lies.
But once the sociopathic intellectuals fell out of favour, the quality of the party’s lies collapsed as the new wave of populist dimwits realised they needed only B-grade, kindergarten-quality lies to stay in power. Mac Maharaj’s favourite response – that some misdeed had “been taken out of context” – was phased out, presumably because the top brass didn’t know what “context” meant. In the end, all they could manage was “terminally ill” and “firepool” and “heh heh heh”.
All of which is why I have some grudging respect for Magashule’s efforts in Hermanus this week.He had nothing to play for. He knows that he’s been stellenbosched and that the province is lost. He wasn’t defending himself or his cronies. There were no stakes. And yet he stood tall and reeled off a lie that, although considerably too stupid to rank alongside the greats of the Mbeki era, was hugely impressive in its brashness and its commitment to the conviction that ANC voters will believe literally anything.Well played, Comrade Ace. You are truly a product of your movement, and a credit to its finest traditions.