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Media Reports on the Launch of Kgalema Motlanthe: A Political Biography

Kgalema MotlantheThe launch for Kgalema Motlanthe: A Political Biography by Ebrahim Harvey was one of the biggest book launches of the year, with various high profile politicians and media personalities joining the Deputy President and Harvey for the event.

The release of this biography caused waves on Twitter, with the #Kgalemabook hashtag trending in South Africa on the night of the launch. Books LIVE was there to bring you a full report of the event.

Verashni Pillay from the Mail & Guardian and David Smith from The Guardian attended the launch and have written about the political implications of this biography ahead of the ANC elective conference in Mangaung in December, where Motlanthe will possibly be pitted against President Jacob Zuma for the top position in the ANC:

“Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, honourable ministers Tokyo Sexwale and Trevor Manuel, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe …”

There was a pause as the audience waited for the introductory speaker, Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley, to do the requisite welcome. Instead he burst out with: “Can’t you all just lock yourselves in a room and sort out this Mangaung thing?”

The Great Hall at Wits University exploded in a roar of applause, not least from the knot of supporters who had danced in the aisles singing pro-change songs relating to the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December and making the notorious “shower sign” in reference to President Jacob Zuma.

There are two gestures now essential to understanding South African politics. One is a rolling hand motion as practised by football fans when calling for a player to be substituted. The player they want yanked off is the president, Jacob Zuma.

The other is the cupping of a hand at a downward angle to represent a shower head – a mocking reference to Zuma’s six-year-old gaffe about showering after having sex with an HIV-positive woman, of which the cartoonist Zapiro constantly reminds him.

Both these gestures were prominent, accompanied by much singing and stomping, at Thursday night’s launch of the authorised biography of Kgalema Motlanthe, Zuma’s deputy and his only credible challenger in an African National Congress (ANC) leadership contest in December.

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