POLITICS

Four Cabinet Ministers' Snub Of Gordhan Tells Us A Hell Of A Lot

Bathabile, Lindi, Des and Mahlobo: we see you!

23/02/2017 12:43 SAST | Updated 23/02/2017 15:13 SAST
Tsepo Mhlongo
Spot the sitters

It's about a 20 or 25 metre amble from the podium in the National Assembly to the middle bench on the government's side of the house which Pravin Gordhan shares with minister of defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Normally the walk doesn't take very long. It is literally just a hop, skip and a jump past the president and the chief whip's benches, around the corner and down the aisle. Done.

On Wednesday, after the minister of finance delivered his budget speech, it took him 50 seconds to shake President Jacob Zuma's hand and walk back to his seat, enjoying fist-pumps and backslaps from ministerial colleagues and backbenchers of the African National Congress (ANC) while the whole of the house gave him a standing ovation.

All except Bathabile Dlamini (minister of social development and leader of the ANC's women's league), Lindiwe Zulu (minister of small business development and former leader of the MKMVA), David Mahlobo (minister of state security and Zuma's hatchet man) and Des van Rooyen (minister of cooperative governance and "the weekend special").

They sat down. Dlamini staring ahead, Zulu on her phone, nose pulled up and lips pouting, Mahlobo laughing and Van Rooyen . . . well, nothing.

Gordhan left the podium after 1 hour, 36 minutes and 42 seconds. He walked over to Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and was on his way after greeting them five seconds later.

By that time the house had erupted in applause, with everybody standing, except seemingly for Dlamini, Zulu, Mahlobo and Van Rooyen. The tortured expressions on their faces and their refusal to stand up to join the rest of their colleagues was captured in a picture by Democratic Alliance MP Tsepo Mhlongo and tells us a hell of a lot.

There are deep divisions in the Cabinet. There are deep divisions in the ANC.

Dlamini — who is playing Russian roulette with 17 million social welfare grants and has been berated by Gordhan for it — visibly detests the finance minister. As Gordhan makes his way back to his seat, she literally sits on her left hand. There was no way that baby was going to make an appearance.

The ample Mahlobo leans back, pink (maybe purple or red) tie traversing his torso, grinning and looking at the opposition, or perhaps the public gallery.

His benchmate, Zulu, absolutely does not want anything remotely to do with the praise singing of Gordhan.

During the speech her face told the story of someone opening up an unfrozen deep freeze with rotting game inside at the height of a Durban summer. Absolutely disgusted.

In the picture she's on her phone, looking down, maybe texting her friends at the MK Military Veterans Association about Gordhan and #WhiteMonopolyCapital.

Van Rooyen is just out of picture, but on other images circulated on social media it seems he might have carried the same expression on his face he in all probability had when Zuma phoned him on December 13, 2015 and told him: "Eish baba, good job as finance minister, but it's time to go . . ."

Gordhan reaches his bench one hour, 37 minutes and 22 seconds after he started his speech, 50 seconds after he left the podium. He shakes Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe's hand and sits down.

Colleagues Derek Hanekom (minister of tourism), Ebrahim Patel (economic development) and others warmly congratulate him and everybody sits down.

Except the fantastic foursome of Dlamini, Zulu, Mahlobo and Van Rooyen. They've been sitting down the whole time.