Fire theories

There have been some wildfires recently. And while arson is likely to be the cause of some of them, could there be something even more sinister behind that arson?

Only yesterday, High Empress of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, sent out this tweet, “just asking” if the recent wildfires could be “accidental or coincidental”.

[EDIT: Actually, this is a SA Weather Service map showing warning for “veld fire conditions” (and “extreme heat”), not actual fires.]

To be honest, we’re all well aware that she has jumped on the conspiracy theory bandwagon and is “#justasking” if the ANC has a deliberate, coordinated arson campaign in full swing in order to “destabilise the [DA-run] Western Cape”. And even then, is that “accidental” or “coincidental”?
In my view, it’s neither. I think that would be “deliberate” and “coordinated”.

The trouble is, even in sharing the image above, Helen has basically answered her own unasked question. The fires are all in red or brown areas – marked as such because they are very dangerous or extreme risk for wildfires. Next to some of the fire icons are thermometer icons. They show that there is a heatwave, adding to the fire risk. And then there’s the green bit towards the south and east of the province. Limited fire risk there. And no fires. And then there are the those three fires icons in the [ANC-run] Northern Cape. Bit of an own goal there, ne?

So wildfires in fire season in high risk wildfire areas, during a heatwave, in the middle of a drought? Yeah. Sounds like an ANC campaign to me. [pops on tinfoil hat]

Cape Town will always suffer from wildfires though, because of the volcanic mountain on our doorstep. I think most people are unaware of this – obviously the city wouldn’t want panic to ensue when the 4.5 million residents realised that they were living right on top of an explodey volcanological time-bomb. So they’ve not mentioned it.

Sadly, thanks to this erstwhile FB user, the cat are now out of the bag.

Yeah. I mean, how unlikely is that cigarette or arson theory when you look at the “Lions Head is a sleeping volcano” reasoning. Of course, Lions Head isn’t a sleeping volcano, it’s sandstone on top of Cape granite (see here), as any meteorologist will tell you (once they’ve… er… stopped foolishly looking at the weather), but don’t let that stand in your way as you crash wildly through the fragile boundaries of reality and into your scary, alternate, “everything is going to repeatedly be set on fire and they’re not telling us why” dimension.

Wait… OMG! Fires on hot days? I hadn’t linked the two. Ever. She might actually be correct. I mean, it never burns in winter, does it? You know: Winter, when the volcanic mountains go cold for several months and there are no wildfires. Checkmate, skeptics!

And just in case you are still a non-believer:

Well, California, South and East Australia, OregonPeru and Canada, just off the top of my head. And, weirdly, all in summer. And double weirdly, all in places where the ANC wasn’t in power. And treble weirdly, all in places where the local authorities haven’t told residents that they’re living on top of a explodey volcanological time-bomb, even when they’re not.

Suddenly. It. All. Fits.

And our Facebooking friend has some advice for those who are commenting on her post:

Yeah. I mean, honestly. If you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to the volcano mountain or the natural annual fires, then just don’t get involved, ok? Just like she didn’t.

Sadly, this being the internet, and her theories being utterly laughable, some people did get involved and the lady making the volcano suggestions was on the receiving end of some not inconsiderable ridicule. And then, this being the internet, someone defended her, and so she said this:

Yeah, immatured people. Please actually think logically when you’re participating in matured conversations like ones about volcanoes which aren’t volcanoes lighting fires on extremely unbearably hot days.

Honestly. It’s not hard.

Forrinurs are stoopid

Unimpressed with someone? Trace their ancestory back a bit, apply a liberal dose of anti-constitutional xenophobia and suggest they leave the country, post-haste.

Julius Malema was at it last week, with his typically edgy, borderline xenophobic comments about curry and the Guptas, before telling his adoring audience that the well-connected Gupta family “must leave the country with immediate effect”. Here are some t-shirts on sale so you can wear your xenophobia in case your voice becomes a bit hoarse from constantly shouting about it.

Ca8CZtpWAAE8fXC

And then today, there was this gem from Ses’Khona spokesperson Sulyman Stellenboom (just one R away from perfect nominative determinism), who gave us this line on Western Cape Premier Helen Zille:

Zille is a ‘germ from Germany’ who must ‘go back where she came from’

Magnificent. Aside from the fact that Zille was born in Joburg, that is. And the fact that it’s repulsively and unnecessarily xenophobic. Maybe Sulyman and the Surly Man both had this feelings poster on their respective bedroom walls. Or maybe they’re just attention-seeking twats using the media’s love of hyperbolic soundbites, and carefully drawing on the populist element of South Africa’s rich recent history of not liking people from other countries very much.

Who knows?

It doesn’t even make sense though, does it? “A germ from Germany”? People from Germany are called Germans, not germs. Germs is a generic term for bacteria. Helen Zille may be many things to many people, but she’s clearly not a single-celled, prokaryotic, pathogenic micro-organism. Nor is she the reproductive part of a cereal. Obviously not.
What was the idiot thinking? Does he also think that Angolans deserve to ‘ang? Or that people from Sweden are merely thinly-veiled turnips. Ooh, and don’t get him started on the Finnish.
The bloke’s a tosser. From… Tossland.
Or something.

Later on, there’s going to be some fighting around Parliament as all the different groups, cultures, colours and various party supporters meet in one massive congested space in Cape Town CBD and the police struggle to keep them apart. The media will love that too.

Anything inflammatory. Which is exactly why Julius and Sulyman keep spouting their xenophobic crap – because they know that’s how they get heard.

SA in The Guardian

Some reading for you.

Three stories about South Africa have recently made it into The Guardian and then from there, into my sphere of knowledge. None of it is particularly good news, as we are wont to expect from the British press, but equally, none of them are the non-stories we saw before the World Cup, (c.f.  this and this) which we didn’t bribe anyone $10,000,000 to stage.

First up, the “Cape Town’s Death Industry” story, detailing how much of the black population living here in the Mother City doesn’t want to be here once it has died (the population, not the city), and the lucrative business in arranging funerals back in the Eastern Cape for those living – or rather, previously living – here in Cape Town.

“These days, of course, it’s not just miners who live far from home. Families are spread out across the country, but amid this spatial dispersion, the fear of dying far from their point of origin has remained. It is now the reason for a growing industry that transports the dead across South Africa.”

As some of you may know, I was in the Eastern Cape recently, and I can understand why many people are desperate to return there once they have died. Ironically, my coming from Cape Town, I almost died a several times on the local roads, and had that have been the case, I would have wanted whatever was left brought back this way.
Anyway, jokes aside, the piece is a simplistic, but interesting view on the cultural complexity of the death industry (or, as many of us would call it “the funeral business”) in Cape Town.

Then, the dust and radioactive nastiness of Joburg’s mine dumps – a tale of tailings, if you will. Oliver Balch details the health problems associated with the leftovers of Gauteng’s gold rush, the people monitoring it:

A handful of randomised spot-checks reveal the extent of the pollution problem. For example, in a narrow run-off canal immediately opposite Soccer City, site of the 2010 Fifa World Cup final, van Wyk picks out the colours along the bank: red for iron, white for sulphur, green for copper, yellow for uranium, and so on.

And the complete lack of government action on actually doing anything about the situation:

Five years ago, the government identified 36 “priority areas” affected by radioactive acid mine drainage for remediation. Today, not a single one of these sites has a feasible implementation strategy in place.

And then, in a somewhat tenuous link to government stagnation, the Uber issue. The Uber issue is playing itself out all over the world with protests in London, really nasty protests in France and then this, in Joburg:

Internet taxi firm Uber said on Monday it was providing security for its drivers in South Africa after verbal threats from other taxi operators in the latest outbreak of friction to hit the fast-growing company. A couple in the city told the Eyewitness News website that they had seen metered taxi drivers harass an Uber driver, grab his keys and threaten him with a gun.

Yeah, taxi drivers are definitely top three when it comes to SA groups you don’t want to irritate. Also somewhere around the top end of that demographic is Helen Zille. And she has hit back at these claims by Uber:

Despite over a year of progressive discussions with regulators, there is still no clear route to obtaining vehicle operating permits for Uber driver partners. A process that should take no longer than a few weeks has been dragging on for over 6 months and still no operating permits have been issued to Uber driver partners. Yet, it appears that operating licenses have been issued to large metered taxi fleet operators, favouring these incumbent operators.

…in her recent newsletter, which admits that there have been delays – because government isn’t “nimble” – but takes the time to explain why those delays have happened – simply that the rules don’t exist for operators like Uber:

This situation creates a crisis for government. Officials must act within the law. But the law doesn’t envisage or cater for e-hailing services. The result is government paralysis.

Now, the angry, Facebook-wielding, online petition-signing, middle-class mob is a bit mixed up. The last time they got this worked up over something, it was probably about Nkandla and the widespread outrage was probably organised by Helen’s DA. Now they have to choose – beloved Uber or beloved Helen.

No wonder there is sudden silence.

The Three Helens

When Helen Zille announced recently that she was not going to stand for the DA Leadership again this year, the reactions were many and varied. Colleagues used the opportunity to praise her good work for the party, opponents (generally quietly) celebrated and thinkpiece writers fell over themselves to write thinkpieces, having been starved of opportunities for years hours since the statue debacle and not knowing that the lucrative magic porridge pot of xenophobic attacks were just around the corner.
Very few people turned to the medium of poetry. And that, dear readers, was a shame.

Surely someone must have gone down the versificational route to express their feelings on this momentous event. Yeah, there was plenty of interpretive dance, but I was after metrical composition, and I could find none. In fact, it was only on page 2 of the esteemed Southern Suburbs Tatler that I found appropriate balladry documenting Zille’s decision. Only right, then, that having found Charlotte Caine of Claremont’s The Three Helens that I share it with you.
I’m on it. Doing it right now.

hz

The Three Helens

Charming and friendly
Yet firm when she needs
With vision, courage and purpose
Is how this first lady leads

Voted “The Best Mayor in the World” [Is this going to scan? – Ed.]
Always giving her extraordinary all [No. No, it’s not. – Ed.]
She has always steered the way forward [Double use of ‘always’. – Ed.]
In showing us how to stand tall [Utterly dreadful. – Ed.]

She’s a person who knows how to plan
She’s a woman who knows how to work
No matter how arduous the task may be
She’ll face it; she will never shirk [Semi-colon = extra points. – Ed.]

She has gone from strength to strength
She stands above the crowd
She always goes the extra length [It’s ‘goes the extra mile’, ne? – Ed.]
She has made this country proud [Double rhyming couplet special bonus. – Ed.]

Completing an industrious trio of Helens
Helen Suzman, Helen Joseph, Helen Zille [Keller? Mirren? No? – Ed.]
With dedication, intelligence and determination
Each one a warrior; each one a winner [This doesn’t rhyme. Just saying. – Ed]

Helen Zille is a phenomenal woman
She has earned her place in history
She personifies an invincible spirit
And leaves an indomitable legacy

 

[Rather awkward and stumbled a bit towards the end. A bit like her, I suppose. – Ed.]

 

A couple of points here. Firstly, that since (I’m assuming) the Southern Suburbs Tatler must have been near inundated with several (or more) poems saying how great Helen Zille was, this is ever so slightly disappointing on the quality front. How poor were the others? Were the rest of them just racist outbursts from angry, privileged, Southern Suburbs, white-bearded men? Well, yes. Yes, they were.
This is surely the only reason for fielding these six stanzae.
And then secondly, that in this isibongo, there is no mention of Helen’s continual Twitter meltdowns. And yet this makes up at least [a lot] of her legacy, indomitable or otherwise. So here you go:

Of course she has her dark side too
Like when she rants on twitter
And calls Simphiwe Dana
An ill-informed, arrogant critter

Yeah, I know. It was rushed, inaccurate, it doesn’t scan, it’s rather forced and poorly laid out. Fits right on the end of Charlotte’s work perfectly then. Hashtag seamless.

I’m almost (almost) tempted to write a whole Helen Zille poem, but right now I have to go home and build a flat pack table (uThug Life) so that’ll just have to wait.

Enjoy your long weekend, SA. We’ll be back with more tomorrow. And the day after. And on Monday. No rest for the well wicked, innit?

Say Sorry, Fikile!

Ah yes, the bizarre world of South African politics. How we love it. And how we especially love Fikile Mbalula and his regular nonsensical verbosity. Oh stop it, of course we do.

First off, he told us about… this… the… something…:

We were aware of the ultra-leftist tendencies that were aimed at uplifting pseudo-Marxist predispositions at the expense of the revolutionary recognition of the symbiotic link between national liberation and social emancipation; born out of the acknowledgement of the inter-play between the national oppression and class exploitation.

Yep, us too, Fikile. Us too.
And then there was the time that Bafana beat Angola, nudging Fikile into a 1,162 word rallying speech of note, which began thus:

We stand here this morning as a proud and confident nation imbued by the resounding thrashing, walloping and gregarious defeat of the Angolan national football Team in Ethekwini by the our astonishing and call-heeding warriors Bafana-Bafana, the crown jewel of the nation of the most popular sport in our country and the world over.

José Eduardo dos Santos. José Eduardo dos Santos, do you hear me?
Your boys took a hell of a beating.

Compare and contrast that with his ranty outburst in Jaunary this year, when he described the team as “useless” and “a bunch of losers”. Yes, he remains our Minister of Sport.
And that latter fact may be due to his unfaltering allegiance to Number One – President Jacob Zuma. He’s even gone as far as calling those who booed JZ as being “infused by Satanism”, which makes them sound like a posh dish in a smart restaurant, to me. I would half expect him to add “…and served with a raspberry jus”. The rest of his quote compares Zuma to powerful elemental forces which cause widespread damage and misery, so perhaps we’re on the same page after all:

They will be defeated because President Jacob Zuma will not diminish because of the booing. He is a tsunami, more than a hurricane. All of their plans, infused in Satanism at best, will never succeed in the future because their plans are nothing else but filled with evil.

But this time, he’s gone too far. Because this time, he’s offended the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, and it’s never good to offend a Pagan Rights Alliance from any country. Apparently, it was this part of his speech in Nyanga last week that was particularly hurtful:

This thing of witchcraft is when a witch does nothing for the people but they still get re-elected. This is what we find ourselves in here in the Western Cape. We are being governed by witches. These witches are oppressing us, they are trampling on us. Where are the tokoloshes and the sangomas so that we can chase these witches away?

Helen Zille and the DA-led Provincial Government pretty much ignored him, as per usual, but SAPRA is up in arms, because – in what must come as a bit of a body blow to Premier Zille – they apparently find it rather demeaning to be compared to her. Here’s SAPRA director Damon Leff:

South African witches object strongly to inflammatory and offensive accusations of ‘witchcraft’ uttered by Mbalula and ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile.
SAPRA calls on the African National Congress and the ANC-led government to cease making accusations of witchcraft and to desist from using a political platform to incite witch-hunts against opposition political parties by denigrating the dignity and standing witches of South African citizens who are witches.

Riiiight, But there’s a serious side to this too, apparently, says Leff:

For a politician to make such a statement in a public platform could incite violence. A simple thing like that led to mass killings in Rwanda.

Well, no. Actually, it was the President’s plane being shot down, not the hyperbolic utterances of some loony communist one weekend. And given that SAPRA claims to represent around 100 individuals countrywide, and conservative estimates suggest that the Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of over 1,000,000, I’m not sure you can use it as a valid analogy anyway. For a start, the SAPRA members will be far more thinly spread across the country and surely no-one could afford the petrol to go and pay them each a visit.

Leff said SAPRA would like to remind Mbalula and Mjongile that according to the Witchcraft Suppression Act, accusations of witchcraft are punishable by a fine of up to R400 000 or up to 10 years imprisonment.

Right, so we have an Act to aimed at suppressing witchcraft (yes we do – and it’s hilarious), but under that Act you can’t actually say that someone is a witch. Anyone with me in thinking that this could be problematic when Constable Jacobs brings in an individual to his Warrant Officer?

“Yes, Jacobs. What is it?”
“I’ve brought this… lady in, Sir.”
“Right. And why have you brought her in?”
“Under the 1957 Act, Sir. She’s a… a… I mean, I have reason to believe that… well, you know…”
“No Jacobs, I don’t know. What are you on about?”
“She’s… I can’t say what I think she is, Sir. Legally, I mean.”
“What? Spit it out, Constable. I have doughnuts to eat.”
“You know, Sir. Eye of newt, toe of bat… Broomsticks. Black cats. [Whispers] Spells!”
“[Enlightened] Oh! You think she’s a wi… one of those! Right! Why didn’t you just say so? Oh, that’s right, you can’t. OK, put her in cell 4.”

Meanwhile, SAPRA claims to advocate for those 100 individuals who “identify their religion as witchcraft” – an admission that immediately puts them in breach of Section 1(d) of the above-mentioned Act. (See Barry, anyone can be like a lawyer.)

Colour me confused.

Anyway, Fikile isn’t going to apologise and says that his comments “should not be taken literally”.
Presumably, the populace is supposed to assume that this doesn’t extend quite as far as his “…so go and vote for the ANC next month” bit.