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David Dison

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

“Tell me Nossel, what’s in a name?”

“What do you make of this Congress 11 l’directeur ?” Nossel mockingly enquired of his lunch companion, Nxumalo.

“You know that since I became a bureaucrat I no longer have the obsessional interest you show in politics in the New Republic” came the sharp retort.

“I know this crappy answer of yours, comrade, but let’s talk high concept. They had a triumphant legal win, no?”

Nxumalo’s beady eye forced Nossel to think that maybe he had pushed too far.

But then Nxumalo smiled: “You understand the concept of triumphalism well, dont you, you fucken provocateur. Yes Nossel, but what our previously entitled friends forget however is that we now inhabit a complex system of appeal and review; these resounding legal triumphs are of a previous era. ”

“You mean Old Republic times?”

Now Nxumalo got into his stride, speaking with worldly-wise articulation born of his many years in the diaspora, during the time of the Old Republic.

“Congress 11 might have scored the legal battle, for what it’s worth, but who will win the war? Imagine our old troubled movement being handed a gift by its under-resourced splinter group whose name links it to the movement forever. The legal challenge has confined them to this limited space, which has limited appeal to the voters. Congress 11 should have focused on substance rather than form. There’s so little to differentiate them from the movement they have left, other than dis-entitlement. Tell me Nossel, what’s in a name?”

“Can’t the same question be directed at the movement?”

“I see you don’t answer the question. Let me put it this way. I see no particular differentiating element in Congress 11′s politics, and no improvement at the leadership level, actually woefully weak leadership in my view. And on the downside their moaning about their lack of security and benefits is hardly attractive.”

The food arrived, and the two of them tucked in.


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