Marius Fransman’s political dictionary

by The Editor

BullshitFEATURE: Few things are more entertaining than a Marius Fransman turn of phrase. At the same time, few things are more nonsensical. It is too easy, however, to dismiss so much of his rhetoric as rubbish. Rather, I think we should celebrate it – as a kind of comic relief. In that spirit I have compiled a collection of some of his more memorable sayings (and perhaps foolishly, tried to define them). Here they are then. Hopefully I will be able to produce a second edition sometime soon. Contributions welcome.

Marius Fransman’s political dictionary

By: Gareth van Onselen

27 February 2013

How best would one describe Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman? As a functional illiterate? That seems too damning, for his grammatical incompetence is just as hilarious and fantastical as it is nonsensical. I say it is something we should celebrate, not condemn. That said, how would one go about understanding what he means in the first place? He has a turn of phrase that combines Malema-like idioms with science fiction-like meaning. It’s a tricky business.

In order that all this ingenuity is not lost, I have attempted to provide some clarity by way of what I have called ‘Marius Fransman’s political dictionary’ – a collection of some of Fransman’s more spectacular language. It’s a weird and wacky world the man lives in, full of imploding bombs and biased petticoats, but quite a lot of fun too, so long as you don’t take him seriously, which no one does.

Unfortunately, the ANC doesn’t take him too seriously either. Every now and then it puts out a more serious statement in his name, the superior language and grammar of which makes it quite clear he wasn’t allowed anywhere near it with his colourful wit. That is a pity. And so, by way of a final introductory point, I would like to make this plea: Please, ANC, let Marius Fransman write more of his own stuff, he might do violence to the English language but we all need a laugh.

Here, then, is the dictionary, hopefully with another edition to follow soon.

Marius Fransman’s political dictionary: First edition


Adaptable Reaction [Noun] A pliable collection of words, like clay or silly putty.

Usage: “The adaptable reaction by DA leader Helen Zille…”

Bomb [Noun] Harmless device designed to destroy only itself – by imploding as opposed exploding – thus constituting no danger to others.

Usage: “What we have is a ticking time bomb ready to implode.”

Dancing [Adjective] Ad hoc collection of actions and props including mirrors, deception, eggs (the whole egg, sometimes just the shells are mistakenly used), summersaults and smoke. Fast moving and able to close the gap on a person some distance away.

Usage: “Zille’s egg-dancing with spin, lies, smoke and mirrors are catching up with her… Zille did similar summersaults about the ill-considered involvement of her advisers…”

Double Standard Hypocrisy [Noun] An honest account. To be differentiated from mere hypocrisy. Rather, a double negative. As in ‘I did not not talk nonsense’.

Usage: “This is typical of the double standard hypocrisy of the DA…”

Eye of the Storm [Idiom] The introspective and nervous part of a storm that, through a mastery of multi-dimensional time travel, is able to reproduce historical milestones. Can be calmed with affirmation.

Usage: “The eye of the storm rests pensively quiet, calm and almost tranquil, but it will stay its course and follow its trajectory leaving in its wake the ravages of time, and the milestones of history.”

History [Noun] A self-aware narrative, able to repeat itself in order to cause mischief. To be watched closely, lest it misbehave.

Usage: “History has a mischievous manner of repeating itself…”

Hollow [Adjective] Empty space with a bad smell. Much like a hole with halitosis. Avoid close contact.

Usage: “Barney Pityana’s criticism of collective leadership reeks hollow and must be exposed for what it is.”

Logic [Noun] The manner in which rationality expresses its insecurity. Not dissimilar from untrusting maths or suspicious science.

Usage: “…the former DA provincial leader’s paranoid logic is the obvious fact that…”

Lip Service [Idiom] Noble and honest rhetoric, to be engendered and encouraged.

Usage: “Now is the time to demonstrate that actions speak louder than words and that the lip-service that has been given to unity finds reflection in all that we do.”

Media War [Adjective] A web of violence spun by the rare Spin Doctor spider. Sticky and easily entangled in.

Usage: “…and are entangled in a media war she cannot win.”

Petticoat [Noun] A garment with a grudge.

Usage: “Her petticoat of bias is hanging out.”

[Aside: It has been suggested the petticoat is invisible, much like Harry Potter’s cloak, as that use of the term above was immediately followed by: “her intolerance of people from the Eastern Cape is again showed up and the emperor is found to be without clothes.”]

Pocket [Noun] Deep enclosure sewn into clothing made out of money. Excellent for hiding behind. Never hide in a pocket, always behind one.

Usage: “The DA and the MEC are hiding behind the deep pockets of the taxpayer’s money…”

Poor Communities [Adjective] Mere pawns on a chessboard, but with rights.

Usage: “…they are not merely pawns on a chessboard, but have rights too.”

Slippery Slope [Idiom] A dangerous and anti-democratic kind of slope able to bypass, even destroy, human rights through sheer sloping. Not to be confused with a gentle slope, a far kinder, more democratic creature.

Usage: “…eject her and her party from taking the City of Cape Town and the province further on this slippery slope that destroys and negates the lives and rights of people.”

Storm [Noun] Angry weather phenomenon capable of reaching temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Celsius (boiling point). Good for making tea. Not to be trifled with, on account of its temper.

Usage: “…yet in reality a storm of fury is brewing close to boiling point.”

Tirade [Adjective] Standing assertion with bad balance, thus prone to falling down. Needs help crossing the street.

Usage: “…as the failed Mazibuko and Zille tirade in December fell flat on its face…”

Umbilical Cord [Noun] A wicked appendage, so far as appendages can be wicked. More evil than the pancreas; less evil than the liver. It is said there is a special place in hell for all umbilical cords. Unredeemable.

Usage: “…he supports AGANG and its nefarious DA umbilical cord…”

  • Gareth van Onselen (@GvanOnselen) is the Editor of Inside Politics (@insidepols), Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

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