Accurate

The state of politics in this country is every bit as bad as the state of politics elsewhere.

Equally, the quality of the media in this country is every bit as poor as the quality of media elsewhere.

It doesn’t make for a pretty scenario. We’re left drifting rudderless with no compass to guide us. But when the sniping of one at another begins, it does make for some wonderful soundbites.

Local political party, the EFF, is known for its hyperbole, grandiose language and wild claims. Its recently released manifesto was a great example of all three of the above and was (apparently, at least) taken to task by local journo Rebecca Davis. No, I haven’t read this particular article, for reasons detailed below.

In fairness to the EFF, their manifesto is probably only a little more pie-in-the-sky than that of any other political party running any other election campaign. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be called out on any  (alleged) inaccuracies it might contain.

EFF deputy clown Floyd Shivambu paraphrases Ali G in his predictable “it iz becoz she iz white, innit?” response:

She accuses the manifesto of being a dishonest document. But in reality, she is the one who is being dishonest, because the people’s manifesto and a clear detailed plan of action has details such that it is the first of its kind, something even Davis has not seen in a manifesto. She’s blinded by class and possibly racist prejudices which seek to provide a critique before she reads and understands.

But Davis has some friends who are black, so I’m pretty sure this can’t be true.

Indeed, I don’t agree with very much that the EFF spout, but this line hit home.

Pitiful, whatever. Abysmal, la di dah.

But “claptrap disguised as analysis” sums up SO VERY MUCH of what is written in the SA (or in worldwide) media these days. And yes, I’m aware that some of you might feel that this blog post falls neatly into that category as well, but I’m not being paid for this, so you probably shouldn’t have been expecting any level of professionalism like what you might get from a journalist.

Sadly, standards (especially locally) have fallen so far that everything one reads in the local press should probably be regarded as incorrect until proven otherwise.

Political manifestos should always be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s sad that any given story you read on any given news site these days has to be treated the same way.

In my humble opinion you’re probably best staying well clear of either.

Good advice from the EFF

There’s no political party that speaks for me. Some have good ideas (some don’t), some have decent people working within them (some don’t), some are doing a good job (some aren’t).

They all have their drawbacks.

Much like all the others, the EFF obviously sees itself as the voice of a certain group of people. I am not one of them. A situation that I think suits us both. It doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy their press releases though. Such as this one from the Gauteng branch, complaining that some troublemakers are up to no good.

Fighters must always be super vigilant by not allowing nefarious elements to infiltrate our structures on the ground as an attempt to delegitimise our revolutionary and radical programmes… All Fighters must guard against mischief; protect the movement and its wholesome integrity, across the province.

Thing is, while it’s comical (jou ma se “wholesome integrity”) and full of self-important and reactionary rhetoric, I quite like the idea behind it.

Apply this – not to EFF ground staff, but to your life – and suddenly it makes a whole lot more sense. None of us should be letting nefarious elements infiltrate our structures, sullying our good name and delegitimising our actions. Christians do this sort of thing with Satan. Same same.

Also, ensure that your uninfiltrated structures know how organised programmes of your organisation are organised: as the EFF in Gauteng tell us:

Structures of the EFF know how programmes of the organisation are organised.

You can’t put it more simply than that. And talking of communication, make sure that mostly all of the programmes you’re doing is verifiable. No point in unverified programmes.

Mostly, all our programmes are verifiable with all [uninfiltrated] structures of the leadership of the [organised] organisation.

Mostly, all my blog posts are great.

Mostly.

Keep on keeping on, EFF.
Your media statements continue to be a joy to read.

Protest

Bit of a weird one, this. Weird because I’m writing something about a very fluid situation and I’m writing it four days ago*. So it might not make any sense by the time you read it. Hell, it might not make any sense by the time I’ve written it. I’m struggling already and we’re only 50-odd words in.

Today is supposed to be a day of national protest in South Africa. Well, as I’m writing this (four days ago), it is. It’s also a normal day of work (except it obviously won’t be) and right now no-one seems to know what to expect, save maybe for the Presidency and chums ignoring whatever protests do occur.

The thing is, South Africa is such a diverse and divided nation that any coherent mass protest action is terribly difficult to organise. While individual political parties and organisations can raise their own demos, no-one has really managed to successfully mobilise across all racial, political and social classes. And that’s why JZ and friends have happily got away with it all so far. It’s also why things need to change if today’s action is to have any effect.

Look, there’s enough support for the protest, but it’s completely fragmented. Already, as I am writing this (four days ago, remember) people – supposedly on the ‘same side’ – are questioning the basis for people’s anger, arguing and fighting about the legitimacy of some protesters with superb logic like: “if you didn’t protest against (a) then you can’t protest against (b)”. Because obviously there are rules for being allowed to express your viewpoint on any given subject.

It’s a phat, public mess and Zuma must be loving every minute of it.

Obviously, people need to look past their individual grievances and try to find common ground if this is to have any chance of working. And I do recognise that that is much easier to say than to do.

I believe that there are many reasons for getting rid of this rotten, corrupt regime. Whatever yours is, today is a day – even more than any other – when you need to recognise and respect that others may have their own reasons too.

 

* All will become clear on this bit tomorrow. 

Malemaville 

News from the far North East of the country, and the Economic Freedom Fighters final pre-election rally in Polokwane, the report on which contained this quote from an enthusiastic fan of the boys in red:

Am I… am I alone in thinking that this might prove somewhat confusing for the good people of (the province currently known as) Limpopo?

How are you going to meet a friend in that bar at that junction when every pub is called “Malema’s” and is on the corner of Malema and Malema? No, not that corner of Malema and Malema, this corner of Malema and Malema. (Although, of course, thinking about it, Malema does cross Malema as well.) (Several times.)

Every business you call would have the same name too: “Hello, Malema’s. How can I help you?”. You’d never be sure that you were speaking to Malema Taxis or the accounting firm of the same name.
Well, let’s face it, absolutely everything would have the same name, wouldn’t it?

Just how far would this policy go? Imagine the chaos at Malema Park when a dog owner calls his pet over and all the dogs in the park come running, answering to their identical name. Apart from Malema the beagle, obviously, because Malema the beagle completely ignores any human command.
For whoever he is named after, Malema is still a beagle.

Even when everything changes, nothing changes.

Look,  I’m sure that the apparently Teflon coated king of the EFF would love the idea of an entire province of stuff named after him. I’m just not sure that it’s an entirely practical idea.

Nigel & Julius

I arrived here in the UK just in time to see (not literally) Nigel Farage’s UKIP party win their first seat in the UK Parliament. It was a bit of a cheat, really, given that the the guy who got elected was already the MP for the area, merely for a different party. That said, unlike the situation in SA, he had to be re-elected under the UKIP banner, and he was. They now control 1/650th or about 0.15% of the UK political landscape. But that’s only if you choose to look at the number of MPs. Because even though the traditional main three parties have just held their respective conferences, all I’ve seen on the TV here is Nigel and UKIP. Repeatedly.

And, if this infographic below is true (and I haven’t had time to check on the veracity of it because that’s not what I’m here for), then my viewing experience could well be easily explained.

wpid-wp-1413185711142.jpegQuestion Time being a much-watched and much-debated TV programme here, this is important.

The thing is this: despite their unpleasant policies and lack of any workable plan should they be elected (or maybe actually because of that?), UKIP have shaken the political landscape here and they have become the media darlings because of it. They don’t have a presence in Parliament (save for that one brand new seat), but they are the go-to party for opinion and soundbites which are going to get the viewers to your news programme, paper or website. And coming from SA, that situation seems rather familiar.

Of course, Julius Malema and his EFF have a few seats in the SA Parliament. But it’s still a tiny presence. And yet their vocal, no holds barred, sabre-rattling approach to everything has repeatedly made them headline news. But they’ve actually achieved nothing through it. Has Jacob Zuma paid the Nkandla money back? No. Has Baleka Mbete resigned? No. And yet, the EFF still get the headlines, despite not actually adding anything positive to the parliamentary mix.

OMG! They shouted! They chanted! Floyd stuck up his middle finger! They walked out of parliament again!
So did they get all their demands satisfied?
Er…. no.

There’s a common thread here, despite the vastly differing politics of Nigel and Julius: people are very unhappy with their incumbent government and the incumbent government seems to be doing nothing to remedy that situation. Suddenly, there’s a power vacuum and that’s something that these populist, radical parties have stepped in to exploit. And they’re exploiting it well, because while they’re not in power they can make a lot of noise and a lot of promises without actually having to back any of it up or be taken to account. They can react quickly to individual incidents, switch polices and respond with no comeback, save for the mainstream political parties (who would try to shout them down anyway, and who no-one is listening to anyway, of course) the media (who love the devil-may-care attitude because it brings them more readers or viewers).

The next general election for both countries is going to leave a very different political landscape. And that’s fine, because that’s how democracy works. But, much like that Trevor Mallach letter, it would be better if we went into these things making decisions based on facts and not on what the media spin. Right now, the EFF and UKIP are getting all the positive press coverage while having to do nothing to back it up. Would either of them actually be able to successfully run a country (or even an opposition party) given the chance?

I can’t see it, personally – although the media might want me to think differently.