Chappies to open for Argus?

I’m not a big fan of cyclists, generally. They clog up the local roads, ignore red traffic signals, weave and wobble all over the place and then moan when you hit them. Yes, some of my best friends are cyclists, but we know that if civilities are to be maintained during a braai or social curry, then the subject of cycling is best avoided.

It doesn’t help living in Cape Town, where the Cape Argus Cycle Tour – the largest timed cycling event in the world – takes place each autumn. Sure, it’s “just a day”, but there’s all the road closures, detours and damn lycra everywhere. And all the parlance in all the local pubs is about “going sub-three” and stuff. (I was hugely disappointed when I found out that this was time to do the race and not metres underwater.)

But now, taking over the entire peninsular for a weekend and more is not enough. They want Chapman’s Peak Drive reopened for them for the day. “Because they’re special”…

photo: Hubert January on Flickr.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, ruining a mountain recently.

I should explain. Chapman’s Peak Drive or “Chappies” is a stunning road cut into the cliffs between Hout Bay and Noordhoek with some of the most amazing views in the world (personally, I prefer the R44 south out of Gordon’s Bay, but anyway…). But with cliff cuttage comes rock fallage. Fortunately, the (allegedly corrupt) Entilini company who built and now operate the toll road knew about this and put big nets up to catch the rocks which would otherwise squash the cars. These are called catchfences (the biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore) and they don’t work. That’s why Chappies has been closed since heavy winter rains last year made it too dangerous for cars and buses and lorries and people to go along the 9km route.

But not for 35,000 cyclists in March, apparently. No. They are invincible (except when in contact with motor vehicles) and thus, falling rocks pose absolutely no danger to them at all. And so they want Chapman’s Peak reopened for them. For the day.

Never mind the poor souls who live in Noordhoek and Kommetjie who have had to add an extra 40kms onto their journeys into Cape Town for the past 6 months. Entilini (who helpfully get paid by the Province whether they are collecting tolls or not) have consistently ignored their desperate pleas to reopen the road. “No,” say Entilini, “it’s unsafe! Rocks and stuff. Gravity. Squashed car. Lawsuit. See?”
But it looks like they’re going to open it up just so the visiting Jo’burg lycra brigade can have their jollies on March 8th. If I lived in Noordhoek, I’d picket, toyi-toyi and block the road*.

The announcement was promised last night and, because it’s being made by the Province, will actually be made this afternoon. And if it’s a yes, it will be a big two fingers up to the local residents, at which point, maybe we should be asking what Entilini stand to gain from the deal. Because otherwise – why would they open an unsafe road for 35,000 potential targets?

EDIT: And, as widely predicted on this blog, they have opened Chappies for the Argus. Shock.

What a disgrace. As Kaiser Chiefs once said: I predict a riot. Although knowing the gentle folk of Noordhoek, perhaps it will just be a stern letter to whoever will listen.
Presumably, on Monday 9th March, it will suddenly become “too dangerous” again and be closed for another 6 months.

* This is what I would do if I lived in Noordhoek and does not amount to incitement to violence.

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.”

SA’s UK Drug Hell!

Or should that be UK’s SA Drug Hell?


SAA: powered by weed (allegedly)

As fifteen flight and cabin crew from the daily SAA Jo’burg to Heathrow flight were arrested after 50kg of cannabis was found on board, South African rugby player Matt Stevens, now living and “working” in Bath, UK, failed a drugs test and looks set to be banned from the sport for two years.  

Stevens has admitted to taking “a substance” “while out with friends” and admits he has a drug problem, although he insists that they were not performance enhancing drugs. Anyone who has been watching his recent performances won’t be surprised by that assertion.
Obviously, they were recreational drugs, and probably imported from Jo’burg.

Which brings us neatly onto the SAA arrests, and I’m pretty sure they’ve got the wrong people. Anyone who has ever flown SAA will testify that they never send baggage to the right place. I’m pretty sure that 50kg of weed was meant to go to Miami or Sydney or Athens.
Perhaps the police in those cities should be looking at the incoming SAA flight crews and see which ones are nervously searching in the galley cupboards and looking confused. There’s your suspects.

Heathrow alternatives – the Runwet

On a day when the big news in the UK was the Government’s long overdue approval for a third runway at Heathrow airport, a pilot in New York went out of his way (literally) to show how Gordon Brown et al could have saved £9 billion by simply utilising the River Thames as an alternative landing area.


Greenpeace: Nearly right. But… not. Now, go and have a wash.

I guess a few of the bridges may get in the way, but one must consider the advantages of a centrally-located landing area, ease of access to public transport (especially water taxis) and the picturesque views of London landmarks for passengers as they come in to land.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, on the starboard side of the aircraft, the Houses of Parliament and on the port side, County Hall and the London Eye.
Thank you for flying British Airways.
Lifejackets are located under your seats. Brace for impact.

This water-based option also provides the opportunity to open aquatic runways – or “runwets” as I like to call them – in smaller cities and towns*. Beautiful Cambridge might have to shift some of the punts off the tourist-laden Cam, but it would save that horrible cross country road trip to Luton and provide direct access to college for overseas students.

Further north, the planes could land on the crunchy crust of pollution that sits proudly atop the waters of the Mersey in Liverpool. It could be called the Paul McCartney Mersey Runwet, to go with the John Lennon Airport, situated so inconveniently out of town.

    
Cambridge and Liverpool – diverse runwets in the UK

If you think about it, runwets would be self-perpetuating. As more planes are able to take off and land from runwets worldwide, CO2 emissions will increase, global warming will accelerate, ocean levels will rise and there will be more space for more runwets. Pretty soon, the whole planet will be one big runwet and Kevin Costner will make a hugely expensive flop of a film about it.

Just remember – you read it here first. As usual.

* There will be no option to land at a runwet in Bloemfontein, as there is no water anywhere in the Free State. Fact.