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.

Amnesty for Zuma?

The debate is on. Should the charge of racketeering, the four charges of corruption, the charge of money laundering and the twelve charges of fraud against ANC President Jacob Zuma be dropped?

The charges stem from an arms deal way back in 1999 and the case has been dragging on ever since. In the meantime, Zuma has been sacked from his post as Deputy President of the country, has successfully defended himself against charges of rape and, more recently, been elected President of the ANC and is now effectively South Africa’s President-in-waiting. But all the while – in fact, now more than ever – those corruption (and racketeering, money laundering and fraud) charges have been hanging over him.

Over the years, certain groups have continually protested Zuma’s innocence and called for the charges against him to be dropped, claiming that they are no more than a political smear campaign. Now, as we finally approach the 2009 election and a possible trial date for Zuma, those groups are becoming ever more vocal.
They say that the trouble is that if (ok… WHEN) Zuma is elected as President of the Republic next year, it’s going to do the country’s somewhat shaky reputation a whole lot more damage to have a potentially corrupt fraudster in charge. I see that.
What I don’t get is their insistence that things will be better if we drop the charges. Look at it this way: if it goes to court and Zuma is innocent, then it’s all ok – we’re in the clear with him. If he’s not, then we’re in the poop. Again, with him.
But if the charges are dropped and we never find out, then what are people going to assume?

I also don’t like the way they are going about attempting to force this issue through. Threats of violence, anarchy, civil disobedience. COSATU’s General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi:

“There are sentiments that Zuma is a target of machinations that go very, very deep. And all of us fear what the reaction is going to be and what may happen the day something happens to him (Zuma) in particular. We can see exactly what the reaction is going to be.
People may misinterpret this as a threat to the judiciary or as a form of blackmail to try and get Jacob Zuma off the hook.
But this is an honest assessment. We honestly do fear what may happen if eventually the matter goes to court and the verdict is that he is guilty and going 14 years to prison.”

Struggling with what I should think on the subject, I tried to contact our 6000 miles… political analyst. But he’s in the USA chasing good-looking girls with strange accents and being re-educated into renouncing his links with Blade Nzimande.

I too fear for the future in SA if JZ goes to court. Then, equally, I fear for the future if he doesn’t go to court. But what message are we sending out if the charges are dropped? That certain individuals are above the law, no matter what crimes they may have committed?
We’re in for a very rough ride over the next few months (or years?) whatever happens, but while I see the sense in protecting the country’s reputation and economic status, something just won’t let me support an amnesty for JZ.

Sorry, Msholozi.

The Perfect Storm?

It’s Spring Day tomorrow in South Africa. The unofficial start of the good weather that will last through until next July, allowing us to enjoy braais, beers by the pool and some dreadful home performances by the nation’s cricket team. But winter had one last throw of the dice and scored a lucky 7 with a particularly evil cold front which came through on Saturday afternoon. It was pretty nasty, as the SA Weather Service warned us:

Gale force westerly winds (35kt/65km/h) are expected in places over the Western Cape on Saturday. Strong-gale to storm strength winds (in excess of 80km/h) are expected along the Western Cape Coast. Very rough seas with destructive waves in excess of 7m, coinciding with spring high tides, are expected along the Western Cape coast. Heavy falls of rain are expected in places over the western parts of the Western Cape on Saturday. Very cold, wet and windy conditions are expected to set in over the western parts of the Western and Northern Cape Saturday evening. Snowfalls are expected over the western high ground of the Western Cape as well as the south-western high ground of the Northern Cape from Saturday evening into Sunday morning.

Lovely. Thanks for that.
I did pop out on Saturday afternoon, but after almost dying on a tree-lined stretch of road near our house when large chunks of the trees started lining the stretch of road around my car, I declined to go out again.
Until this morning, when a promise of decreasing wind, together with a hint of sunshine and a morbid curiosity to see what was left of Cape Town tempted us down to Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay.

        

        
Stormy scenes at Mouille Point: see more at flickr (and videos too!)

The worrying thing was that these pictures were taken about 4 hours before high tide – and a spring tide at that. I’m due back in Sea Point on Tuesday and I will be very interested to see if it’s actually still there.

Want more pics? Click here.

 

Akismet issues

My Akismet anti-spam plugin has been misbehaving, seemingly since I upgraded to WordPress 2.6.1. This issue was indicated to me by (previously) regular commentor and all-round nice guy Del, who emailed me to say that he got a stream of computer-generated abuse each time he attempted to reply to a post.

At first, I just assumed it was because Akismet had worked out that Del was in Australia and therefore it was fine to abuse him. However, I thought I’d better not let it stop other nationalities from passing comment on my spoutings and so I contacted the guru. He came out with some somewhat vague reasoning for the problems which included the word “betweem”. He likes his big words. Anyway, I have deactivated Akismet and booted up YAWASP for a trial period. Let’s see what happens.

If you’ve had problems leaving comments, please email me. I like to hear what you have to say (mostly). Additionally, see if you can leave one now.

Incidentally, I notice that Ma.tt Mullenweg and the WordPress crew were in Cape Town this last week. I didn’t know they were coming or I would have said hello. And asked Ma.tt why his damn plugin was playing up!

Heavy metal “knot” to blame

Last week’s “incident” at a Krugersdorp school in which an 18-year old student killed one person and injured several others was fantastic news for the South African press. Yes, because not only was this an incident at a “white” school, the student in question dressed up in a mask and used a samurai sword to do his dirty work.
But if only there was another angle to this, something outlandish and sensational to make it the perfect story (especially after the sharks failed to eat those tourists).

Wait! There is! Slipknot!

Yes, standing head and shoulders above the allegations of bullying, satanism, drug-taking, poor parenting and failing teachers comes the blindingly obvious cause of this attack:

Community leader, Pierre Eksteen, who is in charge of a school support network for children, told reporters outside the deserted school grounds that Satanic music was probably the cause of the attack.”He came here camouflaged as the guys from ’Slipknot’. We know the wrong kind of music, and drugs have bad effects. Young people need to be informed of the effects of bad Satanic music,”  

I’m right with you there, Pierre – bad Satanic music is rubbish. Some of the good Satanic music out there is pretty listenable though.
And, as Andrew Donaldson remarked in his great Eish! column in The Sunday Times, it’s always a good idea to get your facts straight before talking to the press:

“Satanism,” Eksteen believes, “is in all the schools in the country; it just hasn’t manifested itself yet. Young people need to be informed of the effects of bad satanic music.”
True — just as young people need to be informed of the effects of bad preachers.

Donaldson also notes:

In August last year, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Adolf Hitler’s musical tastes. Apparently, a crate of his favourite records was looted from his Berlin bunker in 1945 by a Red Army officer and these only came to light after the Russian’s death. The discs included works by Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Rachmaninov.
I mention this only because, as far as I’m aware, there has in the 63 years since Hitler’s death been no suggestion whatsoever that any one of these composers and their music had any bearing upon or in any way influenced his behaviour.

Of course, he’s right. The Slipknot angle in this case has been leapt upon by an eager press looking for sensationalist issues where there really are none and has naturally been happily accepted as a rather handy scapegoat by those who failed Morne Harmse and his victims.

That said, I wouldn’t advise you to play Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto if you ever find yourself feeling a little mentally vulnerable and near anything sharp or pointy. Or Jewish.