They say a week is a long time in politics. Well, four years is an eternity in our local politics, I tell you. Remember Jackson Mthembu? Back in 2012, when he was the ANC spokesman, we saw him standing on a podium exhorting party members to protect Jacob Zuma and boycott the Goodman Gallery for putting up a picture showing the president with no clothes.
Those were the good times. Even Julius Malema, now the leader of the EFF, was still nominally batting for Zuma. The party looked united. Those who had slunk off in 2008/2009 to join the Congress of the People were by then slinking back to the ANC.
Things have changed. Mthembu says today the ANC has "off-ramped" from its principles and is in danger of losing the 2019 election. He doesn’t stop there. He wants the entire ANC leadership — from Zuma to the most junior member — to step down because they have lost key urban voters and there is a concerted effort to get rid of finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
It’s all a bit embarrassing for the ANC. Mthembu is, after all, the party’s parliamentary chief whip. Those saying he must pipe down are people like ANC Youth League president Collen Maine. Tell me who you take more seriously. There.
The ANC has to elect a new leader by December next year, at its conference. But the party might not get to December. A split looks decidedly imminent.
Which would make Zuma a champion. There have been more splits and walk-outs from the ANC alliance in his two terms as party leader than there have been in the rest of the history of the party. When it happens it will make Zuma the ANC’s champion of divisive politics.
Even in KwaZulu Natal, where the ANC is supposedly solid as a rock, things are falling apart. The ANC’s eThekwini region has been so divided that it had to hold a conference four times last year before it had a winner in current mayor Zandile Gumede. She can’t sleep easy. Disgruntled members are cobbling together a lawsuit to unseat her.
No matter. I was in Durban on business and my divine hosts took me to 14 on Chartwell, in the booming Umhlanga area. The place is a building site. Hotels, office blocks, apartment buildings are springing up all over the place. It’s great.
This newish restaurant was abuzz with eThekwini’s high-rollers and beautiful people. W ord has it that it is the hip and happening place. You walk in and the place is dominated by a bar area where you can order from an extensive list of craft beers, local gin and other delicacies.
Most diners, looking dashing and gorgeous, sit at the bar and order, and it gets busy as the evening wears on. At the back there are banquettes for more intimate conversations. The place is small, so best you book.
The menu is long, starting with finger foods through to salads — quite inventive — and burgers. Their mains include oxtail, chicken curry and a whole range of others. I went for a salmon in butter and lime with a Wasabi mash and sugar snap peas. We were a big table, but service was excellent. Everyone rated the food top notch.
The ANC might be imploding, but on that evening we were all united in enjoying the good life in KwaZulu Natal.
**** 14 On Chartwell
14 Chartwell Drive
Tel: (031) 561-1017
***** Thuli Madonsela
* Jacob Zuma