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.

Richard Branson didn’t write that letter

Another fake letter is doing the rounds in South Africa. This one is allegedly by Richard Branson (except it’s not) and it differs from the Trevor Mallach letter in that it appears that it was written as satire here, rather than just being attributed to an (apparently random) individual in a position of responsibility.

What is interesting is the way that the anti-EFF brigade have leapt upon this letter in much the same way as the anti-Zuma brigade leapt upon that Trevor Mallach letter. And once again, it doesn’t seem to matter to them that it’s not real – see this response on Facebook from the hysterically-named “Save The White People Of South Africa – STOP The Killing!” page (and then thoroughly wash your browser):

bran1

Yes, that’s “Thank you Chantel <smiley face>”, not “Oh no. We’ve used a misattributed letter. Richard Branson didn’t write this at all and we’ll fully acknowedge that we made a mistake and take it down immediately.”

Of course, that means that those arguing against the EFF’s policies in the future can triumphantly cite Richard as one of their team. Even though he had nothing to do with this “open letter”.

And there’s more of the same thing here:

…even if it’s a hoax, it’s absolutely hilarious and clever.

But I’m not sure that that partial disclaimer makes it OK to continue to portray the letter as Branson’s work, just because you can’t find the original source.

And then of course, there’s the disappointingly now-sloppy work of linkbaitastic 2oceansvibe.com:

bran2 In which “thandi” says:

This is not breaking news, it is a few weeks old but oh my goodness it is good! This is an absolute gem, and definitely deserves a second read if you have read it before. Sir Richard Branson is just genius…Most people would respond with indignance – not him. His response is classic!

Ten out of ten on the hyperbole there. I almost wanted to read the whole thing again.

But… not.

We return to the words of Thabo Mbeki:

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Firstly, use your brain. What is the likelihood of Richard Branson actually having written this? Really?
That’s right, it’s pretty much nil. There should be alarm bells all over the place.

Next up, do your research. It’s really not rocket science. I used “Google” to find the original of this letter. 2oceansvibe relied on an unreferenced piece from micampusmag.co.za. The hysterical Afrikaners on Facebook apparently didn’t even bother give us a source for theirs.

And again. Stop attributing these words to someone just because of their name or position and the way that it fits your agenda. This letter isn’t being shared because of its content, but rather because of who “wrote” it; the convenient notion that someone big and powerful is kicking back at the renegade upstarts of the EFF.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that this won’t change a think. I know that 99% of the general land-owning population will continue accept that Richard Branson is their saviour who will fight the EFF until he dies has to sell his hotel, but if I can just reach that 1%, then my work here is done.

DISCLAIMER: This is a comment on the veracity of the letter in question and the intelligence and diligence of those sharing it, not a comment on the policies of the EFF or anything to do with a posh hotel in Franschhoek.

How to join the EFF

There will be people – probably not within the target market (such as it is) of this blog, but still there will be people – who will want to join Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.

To do that, you’ll need to go to their website and click the appropriate link. But please remember that when paying, certain rules should be observed for the collective good:

EFF encourages fighters to use the FNB ATM to depositing membership fee as opposed to doing it inside the bank.

Economic Freedom Fighters encourages all those who are paying their membership directly to do so at the FNB ATM, as opposed to inside the bank. This is because when you deposit your membership fee inside the bank the greedy financial capitalists take R8 of the R10 membership fee. However, depositing it at the ATM is much more reduced.

Fighters across the country must guard at all times against being taken advantage of by any system. The membership fee must, as much as possible, contribute to the sustenance of the organisation we all love.

Damn those greedy financial capitalists and their 80% fee structure. Believe me, they’ll be the first up against the wall.

Screenshot available here for posterity.