South African politics is a game of win and lose, and sometimes even if you lose, you can still win. Carien du Plessis looks at a few political survivors and those who didn’t survive so well.
Now reincarnated as the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, an ANC Youth League breakaway force that has some in the governing party worried, Julius Malema is proof that rejects can be winners.
After going into a brief retreat following his painful expulsion from the ANC and the league, Malema seems to be a survivor, if a little bit out in the cold.
The president is probably one of the biggest survivors of them all, having turned infamy into fortune by using rape charges and a corruption case to rally support behind him. He has survived several embarrassments since, including fathering a child with soccer boss Irvin Khoza’s daughter, whom he apparently had no intention of marrying.
Twice has this former MP and ANC head of education had a brush with the law for drunk driving, and once got off after his blood sample was lost. It remains to be seen whether he’d be so lucky again, having been caught for the same offence this week.
Yengeni lost his position as MP and ANC chief whip after being convicted of fraud, but he still managed to get elected on to the ANC’s national executive committee last year.
The sports minister was accused of philandering by a model in 2011 in the run-up to the ANC’s bruising Mangaung conference in December last year. Despite having rooted for the wrong team – those opposing Zuma – Mbalula managed to play his cards right and although he didn’t make it to the ANC’s national executive committee again, he’s managed to survive a few reshuffles.
After being forced to resign as DA KwaZulu-Natal leader in 2010, Steenhuisen was sent to become a party whip in Parliament. He was known for his squeaky clean political image while working in Durban, but news that he had cheated on his wife with the provincial party spokesperson, 10 years his junior and married to the DA’s provincial director, made it impossible for him to stay in his position.
Although he is now earning a salary as an MP, he has never really recovered after he was fired as Cosatu president and expelled from the organisation in 2008. This followed a Cosatu probe into the disappearance of a large cash donation in black bags. An alternative labour federation that was to be set up under Cope’s banner never really got off the ground. He was a staunch supporter of former president Thabo Mbeki.
Once a member of the ANC, he was expelled from the party and as Beaufort West mayor in January 2006 following a documentary that showed him kerb crawling in an area frequented by teenage prostitutes. He founded his own party, the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa, and was reinstated as municipal manager but was later fired again.
The former minister of communications and the most famous Christian Louboutin wearer in South Africa is still hanging in there as an MP. It seems to be a mere matter of time until she gets charged for an abuse of public funds involving her married boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa. She was recently found guilty by Parliament’s ethics committee of misleading them, and alleged death threats against the committee were met with a stern rebuke by the ANC.
The former KwaZulu-Natal arts, culture and tourism MEC was told to resign after a DVD surfaced of him having raunchy sex with a married socialite at a posh Durban hotel. These were sent to local residents’ postboxes.
He got into hot water as ANC chief whip for making sexual advances after hours towards his 21-year-old administrative assistant in the ANC’s parliamentary office. Goniwe was axed in 2006 after being found guilty of sexual harassment and, unlike his predecessor, Yengeni, he still hasn’t resurfaced in national politics.
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