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The story of Ali uBaba and the 198 Thieves

09 August 2017 - 12:07 By tom eaton
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Nasrec on 30 June 2017.
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Nasrec on 30 June 2017.
Image: Masi Losi

It was always going to be about numbers: how many votes in the ballot box; how many years left in power; how many dollars pouring into Dubai bank accounts.

One of those numbers has become quite famous since Tuesday evening. 198: the number of ANC MPs who‚ given the chance to vote in accordance with their conscience‚ confirmed that they didn’t have one.

For years‚ a narrative has floated around that insists there are many good‚ progressive ANC MPs. They’re just biding their time‚ people said. They’re working from the inside. They can’t show their hand because they’ll be fired.

It turns out there are about 34 of those. The rest‚ we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt‚ are hollowed-out bootlickers kowtowing in a pantomime of feudal loyalty before their king. Ultimately‚ they are the people who end countries.

Yes‚ 198 is a big one. And because of it‚ there are some other numbers worth considering.

3: the number of Guptas still running South Africa. Congrats‚ Atul‚ Ajay and Rajesh. We really are the gift that keeps on giving.

48: the number of hours left for those 34 rebel MPs to send out their CVs to recruitment agencies. Zuma can’t be too draconian with the December conference looming‚ but Big Men with thin skins and medieval minds cannot abide defiance‚ even if it happens in secret.

20-million: the number of South Africans currently living in poverty‚ whose continued poverty was guaranteed by the vote. Millions more children won’t be educated; millions more young adults won’t be trained or find employment. 198 vastly rich assholes threw away millions upon millions of lives‚ and then went outside and partied.

R20-billion: the amount of money that will be looted by Ali uBaba and the 198 Thieves between now and the 2019 elections. Using Pravin Gordhan’s estimate that R100-billion has been stolen by the Zupta gang‚ it’s fair to suggest that the state captors have been robbing us at a rate of about R10-billion a year‚ or R20-billion over the next two. Ka-ching!

And finally‚ 30: the number of pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus. I hope the sellouts in government have demanded a lot more. At least‚ as our country lurches lower‚ we can tell ourselves we’re worth a few million‚ a BMW and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.