We have incredible talent in South Africa, some of it appearing at the Zondo commission

On Sunday, South Africa won the Oscar for best documentary for “My Octopus Teacher: s a poignant story about a burnt-out man who rediscovered his passion after a year free diving in the frigid waters of False Bay. It tells you everything about this country that until then Craig Foster’s exploits were probably better known because of a parody ad of a white Capetonian befriending his pool cleaner for Kreepy Krawly.

We have incredible talent in this country; some of it appearing at the Zondo Commission. The estranged La Gigaba, Norma Mngoma, could well have been up for best supporting actress in her role in the sequel to the 1994 blockbuster Rainbow Miracle that has fast segued into a morality tale for the ages.  In a marathon six-hour session on Monday night, the day before we reflected on the last 27 years since South Africa went to the polls in peace and shocked the world, she effortlessly threw her husband under the proverbial bus. 

She might even have set up the storyboard for her own biopic as a latter-day Marie Antoinette – blissfully unaware of the legions without jobs, dependent on state handouts and pit toilets, from her gilded cage funded by state capture cash stuffed into leather satchels. The viewing figures tell it all; 6 000 people watched the SABC’s live stream coverage on You Tube. The social media diva was trending across Twitter that night and well into Freedom Day. It was clear why husband Malusi had been so keen to have her dissuaded from testifying. 

No stranger to the film world he’d almost got his own gold statue, albeit the AVN version rather than the Academy’s, after his 2018 opus to his manhood. Famously mouthing “Can you imagine?” over the intimidating sight to whoever had been the unfortunate recipient, the audience this week realised he’d imagined all along just how damaging his estranged wife’s testimony would be. It also became clear why the Hawks had to be sent off to jail his wife – on a domestic dispute – and their desperation to confiscate her cell phone.

If that story line was gripping, the scriptwriters lost it the next day after Mosebenzi Zwane told the commission he hitched a lift on a Gupta jet to Switzerland for throat problems rather than just buy a packet of Strepsils. Then again, when it comes to plot holes, that one didn’t even register against Tokyo Sexwale’s White boy Solidarity Fund scam last week with numbers that would have given Jacob Zuma an apoplexy – to pronounce at least. 

The biggest drama of them all is still to come though. By the time you read this, Ace Magashule’s 30 days – even by ANC arithmetic – should have been finally up. Whether he steps aside or not is more soap opera than feature film, but for the rest of us, the option of spending an entire year freezing as we free dive in kelp forests trying to make friends with a lonely octopus is looking like an increasingly attractive option.

Originally published on 1 May 2021 by the Saturday Star.