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Week of 23 April 1999

Happy FREEDOM DAY to you all for Tuesday. Ja Boet, it will be half a decade since we ALL stood for the first time in those queues to make our crosses. I will be celebrating being FREE AT LAST (and a couple of other things) in the antipodes for a while. Do not despair, for, like General MacArthur, I shall return, to the beloved country, to once again clog up your mail boxes with my ramblings.

- Who's who in the provincial zoo -

The ANC announced its nine premier-candidates yesterday, chosen by the president of the ANC, Thabo Mbeki on the advice of a national ANC committee. (Where the ANC wins a province in the election its premier candidate will become premier. In 1994 party provincial structures chose premier-candidates, but the ANC changed its own constitution in order to be able to nominate on a national level.) Out of the seven provinces currently under ANC control, three have had new premiers nominated:

-for Gauteng, Mbhazima (Sam) Shilowa (described by DP leader Tony Leon as a "flamboyant champagne-socialist"), secretary-general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu);

-for the Free State, Winkie Direko (described by sources as "one of those old ladies from Mongaung"), a former teacher and MP in the National Council of Provinces;

-and for Mpumulanga, Johannes Mahlangu, MP and former cabinet minister in the former KwaNdebele.

Free State premier Ivy Matsepi-Cassburri is now a candidate for the National Assembly. What ANC 'jobs' current Gauteng premier Mathole Motshekga and Mpumulanga premier Mathews Phosa will get after the election is unclear. The ANC denies they have been fired: "Their talents could be put to better use elsewhere," says ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe. But minister of health Nkosazana Zuma refused to accept the decision, and demanded reasons for their "dismissal". An ANC provincial leader in Mpumulanga said "Something has really gone mad in the ANC."

- Closets: who's in, who's out; and whose skeletons are so old no one cares anymore -

"If Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was the only woman in the world, I'd definitely change my sexual orientation," said DP leader Tony Leon to a half-full hall at Pretoria University yesterday in answer to a question as to whether Madikezela-Mandela was right when she claimed Leon was gay.

Judge Edwin Cameron, a High Court Judge, revealed during an interview with the Judicial Services Commission for a position on the Constitutional Court, that he has AIDs. He did so because he said he wanted to confront the issue "frontally". When asked what factor might count against his appointment, he replied, "Race." Judge Cameron made it known he was gay some years ago.

"I am prepared to stand by her against anybody," said Mbeki in defence of Madikizela-Mandela's right to stand for election despite her criminal record.

- From the mouths of those who should know -

Opinion polls show that Afrikaners now support the DP more than any other party. Every three out of te