Should Expats be able to vote?

With an election imminent, as with any political party in any country, each of the political parties in SA is working out how best to maximise their chances of not losing too heavily to the ANC. Apart from the ANC, of course. Their tactic seems to be to not give a toss what happens because they’re going to win anyway.

Such is democracy.

Botox Queen Helen Zille’s DA (the Desperate Alternative) and Pieter Mulder’s FF+ (which is actually a political party and not a remedy for period pain) have launched separate court actions in Cape Town and Pretoria respectively to try and change the rules so that South Africans living overseas can vote in the upcoming ballot. And, since these are “white” parties and the majority of expats also fall neatly into that racial demographic, presumably for them.
One would imagine they’ve done their sums and worked out that the expat vote would be a “good thing” for their numbers, anyway. That would be a mighty own goal otherwise. Jacob Zuma would kill himself laughing.
Maybe that’s the plan.

So, should South Africans living and working abroad be allowed to vote in the SA elections?

No. They shouldn’t.

I should be allowed to vote here though. I’m a permanent resident here. I’ve lived here for five years. Paid taxes here for five years. So give me their vote. I promise to use it wisely (if not quite as they might have done).
The ironic thing is that I can still vote in the UK, despite not living there or having even stepped on British soil for over two years. I choose not to though. I think that I gave up that privilege when I made the decision to come and live here in Cape Town. And so it should be with those who have chosen to leave Cape Town – or wherever and head off to the UK – or wherever.

Don’t get me wrong. People like Gabrielle Johannes (does she mean renounced and not denounced, by the way?), currently annoying people in South West London on a two-year working visa, are not the ones I’m talking about. If you are overseas “temporarily” – like on a 2-year visa – then I’m all for your rights. Although, there’s always the counter argument that you knew the rules when you left the country and you still chose to go. Why moan now?

But if that also means that Frikkie van der Merwe who left SA in – let’s choose a year at random here – say 1994, also has the right to vote this year, then something has gone very wrong with the system.
And if that means that you renounce your South African citizenship (or at least that aspect of it) when you choose to move abroad – well, so be it. I have seen too many SA expats who rely solely on dodgy news sites with dodgy reporters and dodgy agendas for their information about South Africa. That those ill-informed individuals should get the opportunity to influence the future of the country is plain wrong.

As it is, whether Helen and Pieter’s court cases are successful or not will almost certainly have very little bearing on the outcome of the election. But it’s nice that they have suddenly realised that they want to campaign for the disenfranchised masses overseas. In an election year.

Who’d have thunk it?

Malema: the future of SA

Of all the things that will come with a Jacob Zuma presidency, perhaps none is quite so scary as the prospect of ANCYL Leader Julius Malema holding any position of authority.
While I am not a fan of the constant ZumaRumas™ which are regularly circulated by antagonistic, hysterical whities with racist agendas*, the thought of Malema being allowed near anything or anyone important fills me with dread.
The mechanic that serviced my car last week looked a bit like him and now my air-con has packed up. I recognise this is no reflection on Mr Malema himself per se, but it just seemed horribly appropriate and thus I felt I should include it here. 

I am also not a fan of radio stations doing prank phone calls. For me, just because someone is (in)famous, doesn’t mean that one should be able to ring them up out of the blue, imitating some other person, confuse and embarrass them and then broadcast it for all to hear. However, I’m going to make an exception here, as “Whackhead” from Highveld 94.7 in Jo’burg calls Julius Malema (via his PA) and “chats” to him.
While pretending to be Barack Obama.

Listen and weep:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_MbvTksmdg]

For me, the scariest bit is that Malema fails to actually say anything.
Is he overawed? Is he confused? Does he even know who Mr Obama is? 
Can Julius Malema get out anything more than mumbled, one word answers while talking to the most powerful man on the planet?

No, he can’t!

I know it’s not a fair situation to judge someone on, but please, for the love of all that is holy, couldn’t he have embarrassed himself by at least chatting to “Mr Obama”, perhaps congratulating him on his election victory, hypocritically spending $150 million on a big party, maybe talking about his visions for Africa – ANYTHING!
Just not “yebo” and “ugh”. Those are not the words of a competent politician.
But those are the words of Julius Malema.

* As Thabo Mbeki (remember him?) said last week, “It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.”

Wakefield’s Shameful Legacy

A new study, ironically published in The Lancet, raises serious doubts that the goal of elimination of measles in Europe by 2010 can be attained. The reason for this re-emergence of a disease which was completely under control 15 years ago is the “shoddy, litigation- and profit-driven pseudoscience” of Andrew Wakefield, whose now discredited study published in The Lancet in 1998, linked the MMR vaccine with autism in children.


Measles virus: small, but nasty

It later emerged that Wakefield was paid up to £55,000 by solicitors acting on behalf of the families of some autistic children to prove a link between the vaccine and the condition. This was something that he somehow forgot to mention to his fellow authors, medical authorities or The Lancet.

Simon Murch, one of the leading doctors involved with Wakefield’s research at the Royal Free, said that news of the £55,000 legal funding was “a very unpleasant surprise”.
“We never knew anything about the £55,000 — he had his own separate research fund,” said Murch. “All of us were surprised… We are pretty angry.”

10 years on and Wakefield’s scaremongering has resulted in a 13-year high in the number of measles cases in the UK: an “embarrassing problem” according to the WHO report’s authors. Vaccination levels have improved somewhat over the past 2 years, with concerted “catch-up” campigns for those who missed vaccination, but even cases of measles in South America, which was all but free of the disease, have been traced back to Europe.

Between 2007-8 in Europe, there were over 12,000 cases of measles, which should have been erradicated from the continent by next year. Over 1,000 of them were in the UK:

1,049 is the highest number of measles cases recorded in England and Wales since the current method of monitoring the disease was introduced in 1995.
This rise is due to relatively low MMR vaccine uptake over the past decade and there are now a large number of children who are not fully vaccinated with MMR. This means that measles is spreading easily among unvaccinated children.

As a microbiologist and a parent, I strongly urge all parents to do the decent thing and vaccinate their children. These are not called “preventable diseases” for nothing. Apart from the benefits for you and your kids, there should be a collective sense of social responsibility to help reduce the reservoir of these illnesses in society.
The results of a decade of misinformation, poor science and hysterical reporting are becoming evident now: disease, disability and even death for hundreds of children, all of which could and should have been avoided.

Don’t let it happen to your kids.

Trolling for Keith…

Warning! This post contains language that some may consider offensive!

Way back in July, I wrote about my feelings upon the release of Batman: The Dark Knight.
I was sick to death (no pun intended) about the amount of hype surrounding the film, which would have been much lessened were it not for one of the actors, Keith Ledger, dying during filming.

Now, a mere five months on from those wet winter days, Matilda, connecting via Boston, Massachusetts, has finally popped onto the 6000 miles… site to post her annoyance at that particular article:

matilda
takethat2008@lycos.com
65.96.221.103

    Saw what you said about Heath Ledger, go FUCK YOURSELF!!!
 

Yes, that’s really the best response that she could come up with after just 158 late nights spent rooting through numerous dictionaries, thesauri and finally, 1001 Best Insults – The Complete Beginners Guide To Swearing.  Brilliant. And a gold star for the Boston Education Department. 

Well, the hype worked and the movie earned shedloads of cash, but Keith is still dead and 11 months on from his “accidental” overdose, Matilda still hasn’t come to terms with his passing. The CAPITALIZATION and excessive punctuation!!!!! at the end there just screams of the spleen ventage of a sad, lonely, woman who only has her 27 cats and a 56k modem for company. A woman who remains deep in denial and who takes a really long time to think up comments to write on blogs.

I look forward to hearing from Matilda again soon. Well, June-ish, anyway.

EDIT: Emil may have stumbled upon something here:

matilda seems very cross with you! Probably jealous about your phone!

Yes, Emil – thinking about it,  that was probably the final icing on the coffin which broke the camels back. Good point.

Sorry – my mistake

Readers visiting this blog last week may have been alarmed by my reporting of the situation in Zimbabwe – especially that relating to the outbreak of deadly infectious diseases there and the potentially disastrous consequences for that country. However, after hearing the news today, it seems that those remarks were hastily made and ill-informed.

President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe has contained cholera.
In a nationally televised speech, he said: “I am happy to say our doctors are being assisted by others and the WHO [World Health Organization] have now arrested cholera.”
He went on to denounce former colonial power Britain, as well as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President George W Bush, who both called earlier this week for the 84-year-old to resign: “Because of cholera, Mr Brown, Mr Sarkozy and Mr Bush want military intervention,” Mr Mugabe said.
He added: “Let’s tell them that the cholera cause doesn’t exist any more.” 

I would like to unconditionally apologise for any undue concern that was caused by people reading my blog and believing that our neighbours to the north were in any kind of trouble. I’m left asking myself how I could have got it so very wrong?
As Mr Mugabe has clearly stated, things are obviously completely under control up there and it all seems to have been a bit of a storm in a teacup.
I must add that they really have done a tremendous job in sorting it all out so very quickly and eradicating a disease which threatened literally tens of thousands of vulnerable people, all of whom must be celebrating this evening.
That must be some party.

Well done Mr Mugabe and a hearty pat on the back for you and your wonderful team.  And again – sorry.