OPINION: No one fooled by Collen Maine's stomach politics

Zenoyise John

South Africa is deeply entrenched in the politics of the stomach. Among the events of the last few weeks, when ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine threw his former political ally, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, under the bus, boldly reflects the dynamics of this notion.

In a move no one envisaged, the staunch Zupta 'evangelist', from whom former president Jacob Zuma drew most of his fanatical support, shocked all and sundry when he somersaulted and implicated Mahumapelo as the one who introduced him to the Guptas. Maine, who had been denying any association with this Indian immigrant family, left the mourners at the memorial service for late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the North West gobsmacked.

Still sporting the pot-belly he developed while on the Gupta gravy train, Maine sheepishly told the crowd that, unlike him and others, Madikizela-Mandela never surrendered her integrity in exchange for benefits from the family.

The arrogance and intimidating aura that were once the trademarks of this man, who scorned every advance made by Cyril Ramaphosa's presidency, have gone. He now faces a future of ignominy.

He thinks he can fool us into forgetting his many sins. But who can forget that the Gupta family paid a whopping R140 000 monthly bond for his posh double-storey mansion at a Pretoria golf estate? 

He also stands accused of accepting a R500 000 "donation" from Just Coal CEO Joe Singh in the hope that the league would convince Eskom against terminating their contract with Just Coal. 

Maine tried to fool everybody when he and his band of crooks preached socialism by day and practised capitalism by night. Instead of siding with the poor as a socialist should do, he enjoyed all the trappings of capitalism, using money stolen from the poor while eroding the nation's democratic institutions.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! At long last, the chickens are finally coming home to roost.  This is the same person who defended every evil that the former president and his cabal committed. Up until Zuma's downfall, Maine was his cheerleader who elevated him to a virtually untouchable figure. A praise-singer and worshipper at Zuma's corruption church, he frequently abused the public space to insult dissenting voices and political opponents who demanded accountability from the former president and his party faction.  

No river of crocodile tears can wipe away the damage he and his friends have done to this country. In fact, his crocodile tears are a spit in the face of the poor and a foolish insult to our intelligence. Even a fool knows that his sudden change of mind is not based on principle but on other narrow-minded and self-seeking considerations. He has devised a convenient tool for oiling his political aspirations in order to be acceptable to the new regime.

His statements regarding Mahumapelo only served to divide his own organisation, the ANCYL. Some in the league have crucified Maine, calling him a "sell-out of note" and that he "does not deserve to be called a comrade". Others, like the league's spokesperson, Mlondi Mkhize, are still prepared to rally behind him.

Maine's antics are a sad reflection of our political set-up where the deleterious stomach politics rule and contaminate our national political health. The electorate also has a duty to kill this cancer in our society. They must look out for political opportunists like Maine who would not hesitate to discard their promises to the voters in order to achieve their selfish goals.

Ramaphosa must be firm in ensuring the likes of Maine are prosecuted for the crimes they allegedly committed against taxpayers.

- Zenoyise John is a journalist and a Masters candidate in journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @zenoyisej

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