Don’t you get fucked off with all these pop-up political and economic analysts?

They emerge, like verbal one-person flash mobs, every time the news agenda gets a little too complicated for journalists to follow. So instead of reading a court judgment and reporting on it, editorial teams wheel in someone with Professor or Doctor before their name (whether it’s earned, bestowed or stolen is never clear – ask Pallo Jordan) to provide some ‘analysis’.

Elections used to be the intellectual breeding season for analysts, but it seems this week’s deluge of ‘current affairs’ – the spy tapes, Nkandla, the EFF, the arms deal, the Farlam Commission, the “recession near-miss” – has got their hormones popping prematurely preseason. And so we have them sticking their badly dressed necks out all over the place, helping news anchors to deconstruct the story instead of constructing a proper story themselves.

Now I’m a spin doctor, not a medical doctor. But I feel it’s time embrace this national spirit of never letting your expertise get in the way of your opinion, so today I offer a highly opinionated medical diagnosis of South Africa’s number one trauma patient: my dearly beloved ANC.

First up, I have to say that it’s not cool to see such an institutional liberation movement show such visible signs of ageing, but 104 years is a long time for anyone to walk this earth, even if the last few years were spent in the back of a limousine.

I suppose when you combine that number of years with the damage caused by the cut and thrust of Zuma-era politics, you end up looking like Oscar Pistorius has used you for target practice.

Just this week, for example, the ANC was inflicted with a hammer blow in the pubic region from the public protector, a knife through the heart (Tsafendas-style) from Julius Malema, a blow to the head from Dali Mpofu, a rap on the knuckles from a judge, and several small nibble marks on the ankle from Mmusi Maimane.

No wonder Baleka Mbete et al are traumatised.

My initial diagnosis, therefore – after a detailed (three-minute) search of internet medical sites – is that the ANC is suffering from a medical condition called haemorrhaging.

The medical definition is rather informative:

“A haemorrhage may be ‘external’ and visible on the outside of the body or ‘internal’, where there is no sign of bleeding outside the body. Bleeding from a cut on the face is an external haemorrhage. Bleeding into the spleen or liver are examples of internal haemorrhage.”

The origin of the term “haemorrhagic” is informative, too: it comes from the Greek “haima”, which means “blood”, and “rhegnumai”, which means to break forth – “a free and forceful escape of blood”. That’s right, a “free and forceful escape” – also known as Trevor Manuel, Kgalema Motlanthe, Terror Lekota and the like.

So what are the symptoms of haemorrhaging? How do you know it’s happening?

Here, there’s a difference between external haemorrhaging and internal: “Externally, the symptoms are pretty easy to spot: blood (that overall-coloured stuff, Gwede) coming from an open wound.”

Internal haemorrhaging, on the other hand, is less easy to spot: “The major symptom is shock, which can cause any of the following symptoms: confusion or decreasing alertness, dizziness or light-headedness, a rapid pulse, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath.”

The other major symptom, online doctors say, is a sense of weakness. Sound familiar?

Now, before I became an expert internet user, I often confused haemorrhages with haemorrhoids. But from today, I know they’re vastly different. Although I suspect the ANC has those, too.

The medical definition of haemorrhoids is “a swollen vein or group of veins in the region of the anus” – in other words, a severe pain in the ass. It’s clear that today’s ANC has piles of those.

So now that we know the two main ailments affecting the movement – haemorrhaging and haemorrhoids – what’s the cure?

Again, online medical science has helped me form an expert opinion: In the case of haemorrhoids, the most effective treatment is generally surgical removal – but the ANC national disciplinary committee has already tried that, and it seems to have made the pain worse. Eating more fibre can help, as will getting more exercise. But the parliamentary lifestyle will probably counteract that.

The most appropriate online treatment I could find is probably the following: “When you feel the urge to defecate, go to the bathroom immediately; don’t wait until a more convenient time. Stools can back up, leading to increased pressure and straining.”

In other words, take a shit (or, in the political context, just talk shit) wherever and whenever you feel the urge. Now that shouldn’t require too much of a lifestyle change for some among us.

And what about the haemorrhaging? Well, treatment for this is a bit more complicated. Given the extent of internal and external bleeding the ANC is experiencing, a couple of options exist. To quote directly:

  • Calm and reassure the injured person, as the sight of blood can be very frightening. (Okay, that could prove difficult.)
  • Lay the person down. This reduces the chances of fainting by increasing blood flow to the brain. When possible, raise up the part of the body that is bleeding. (That may be difficult too, given the extent of the injuries.)

There is this advice, though: “Do not remove an object such as a knife, stick or arrow that is stuck in the body. Doing so may cause more damage and bleeding.” That could be good news for the public protector, I guess, but not necessarily for the EFF given that removing haemorrhoids surgically is the recommended method.

Ultimately, I suspect the solution may be more obvious. It lies inside another medical ‘current affair’ that’s been analysed at length by nonanalysts this week: Inkatha Freedom Party warlord-turned-war-hero Mario Ambrosini, who died while campaigning for the legalisation of medical marijuana.

In the light of the ANC’s current ailments, Ambrosini might have been on to something. After all, “medical marijuana can change your mood, making you feel happy, relaxed, sleepy or anxious”. Just the cure! Puff ’n pass your way to the next ANC national conference!

But I suspect some in the ANC leadership have already tried the Ambrosini method, and possibly even overdosed. As the same internet source warns: “Large doses of medical marijuana can make some people have hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.”

Sadly (or not, you may feel), Ambrosini is gone now, but his approach to sickness and pain could be useful if the ANC is really looking for a cure. Because, as we now know, after a long struggle, Ambrosini ultimately opted to kill himself rather than carry on suffering and causing more suffering for the ones he loved.

But then that’s just my opinion.



Pic Credit: EFF in Parliament by David Harrison

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