All change…

So he was pushed to the very edge and now he’s jumped.
Well, I say “jumped”: actually, it was more of a dignified step.


Mbeki – gone: “Butchered”, no less.

Yes, it’s big news, but it’s not bad news. It’s not even unexpected news after the Nicholson ruling on the Zuma case. Scandals, allegations, divisions, resignations: this sort of thing happens on a fairly regular basis in democratic society. Of course, it’s a new thing for South Africa, because democracy is still a new thing for South Africa. But one only has to look to the UK (it’s about 6000 miles, I’m told) to see much the same process under way there.

The papers are full of screaming headlines about political uncertainty, mass hysteria, turmoil and disorder across the country. Anyone reading them would think that there is utter chaos here. And of course, there is always a difficult transition period in these matters. But life does go on and it’s going on completely as normal today. Slightly more quietly, perhaps, because there’s a public holiday this week.
Here’s what we were dealing with on the way to work this morning.


Another tough day in Africa after Mbeki resigns

I’m sure there will be more news to come from this story: in fact, I’ll be gutted if there isn’t. But for now, that’s it. Stay calm, don’t panic, watch with interest, enjoy the weather and don’t believe all that you read.
Apart from on here, obviously.

Blatter dancing for joy

FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s visit to South Africa to inspect preparations for the World Cup in 2010 appears to be a big success. Despite the unfounded concerns of a vocal minority, all ten stadia are on course to being ready in good time for the tournament. Addressing those sceptics, Blatter said:

They have to admit the stadia will be ready, people will be well received and so on.
What is needed, instead, is a little more enthusiasm in South Africa;
for the whole country to say … yes, let’s go, let’s do it.

It’s about time South Africa got some good publicity from the world’s press over 2010.
However, many of the reports I have read of the FIFA visit have been very keen to mention the political issues dominating our news at the moment and also the crime rate, which they are lining up as their big story of the tournament. I can already see the “FAN MUGGED!” or “TOURIST STABBED!” headlines being readied. Because that sort of thing only ever happens in South Africa. Never in London or Hamburg or Rio. Oh no.

blatt
“When I left the plane and arrived on African soil, I started dancing.”

In addition, much of the stadium construction work is ahead of schedule. Which is better than Athens 2004 or er… Wembley. Is that actually finished yet? I mean – really finished?

Work is ahead slightly ahead of schedule at Durban’s semifinal venue, and at the two stadiums in Johannesburg. FIFA general-secretary Jerome Valcke said that even Beijing’s “Bird Nest” Olympic stadium looked small compared to Soccer City. Even Cape Town’s 3.9 billion rand or $490 million stadium – the most controversial because it is in the middle of prime real estate – is on track.

Now the naysayers and the critics have had their naysaying and criticism, I wonder what they think will happen to the World Cup in 2010? Do they honestly still believe that it’s not coming to SA?
Or is this just now a case of sour grapes?

Live webcam feeds of Cape Town stadium site

Where I lead…

…the South African Human Rights Commission follows.

SAHRC Chair, Jody Kollapen on the Zapiro cartoon furore:

The view of the Commission is that while the cartoon captures a significant political and social issue within society today — on the role of the judiciary and its place in society — the cartoon may well have gone a bit too far in terms of how that particularly relevant social, political, legal issue was captured.

Hang on, isn’t that what I said?

Notes on the switching on of the LHC

The LHC is the Large Hadron Collider, a big circular tunnel under Switzerland (and a bit of France) full of expensive electronic equipment which scientists are going to switch on tomorrow – meaning that the universe is going to end and we’re all going to die. Possibly, anyway. If things do go wrong, then Jacob Zuma may never get his day in court. Poor bugger – he’s been waiting ages!

Look, everyone’s going to be blogging about this tonight and tomorrow, so I won’t waste too much of your (increasingly) valuable time. But just to explain:

Two beams of subatomic particles called ‘hadrons’ – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy.

To me it sounds like a whole lot of fun. Although if the British hadron overtakes the Finnish hadron on the chicane, it will probably be disqualified.
But anyway, I’ve checked and discovered that if they do accidentally create little black holes which suck the entire galaxy into a point of singularity (or whatever), my mortgage is covered. Happy days.

So if this is goodbye, then goodbye. And thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with some very sound advice:

I can just see that this is going to be a very productive day…

That Zapiro cartoon

Ever since The Sunday Times published the “rape” cartoon that the entirety of South Africa is now talking about (that would be Sunday), I have been literally inundated with an email asking what 6000 miles… readers should say when asked about it, in order to remain “on message”.

This cartoon was removed at the
request of Zapiro’s legal team.

6000, September 2009

Exhibit A: the cartoon in question.

Looking around the SA interwebs, plenty of others have already had their say:

“While we accept that cartoonists have the licence to express controversial views, yesterday’s cartoon is in extremely bad taste and goes way beyond limits of acceptability”
“The cartoon rubbishes the collective integrity of the alliance and constitutes yet another continued violation of the rights and dignity of the ANC president.”
“In a country where we have a serious scourge of fighting violence against women and in particular, rape, we need to be very careful how we use the notion and the concept of rape loosely to demonstrate any form of perceived abuse.” [link]

and for the other side:

“Good for you dude. That cartoon is an absolutely accurate description of the state of affairs… so I’m doing my part to spread it around.” [link]
“There is a very, very pronounced tendency in this country towards exceptionalism, as if our politicians are more sacrosanct than politicians worldwide. That I take issue with.” [link]

For me, Zapiro (the pen name of cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro) has taken things a step too far on this occasion. I have issues with his trivialisation of rape and his portrayal of abuse of women for political ends and also his imagery (again) linking Jacob Zuma with rape – 2 years on from JZ’s acquittal for that crime. It seems likely that Zuma will now sue for defamation – he may feel that he has a strong case, given Shapiro’s apparent vendetta against him.

Please don’t think that I am naive as to what Shapiro is trying to say – I wrote about the whole situation just last week. Disappointingly, the astute, amusing, politically savvy and downright insightful political spectator and commentator has let himself down with this particular piece of work. Many would say that in just stirring up this fuss, he has achieved his objective – to publicise the issue of JZ’s inevitable presidency versus his corruption trial and the difficulties that poses for this country. I think we were all aware of that issue anyway.

I just feel that it could have been done a whole lot more tastefully.