Cape Town’s first big storm of the year is due this weekend, described on surfers’ website Wavescape as follows:

A moerse storm smacks Cape Town this Saturday with the first of a double frontal burst – the first serious beast of the season… just look at the length of the wind below. Basically it’s a stab wound that bleeds from the ice-shelf right up to your tannie’s koeksusters cooling on her stoep at Stilbaai. It’s the ingrown toenail of a fierce oceanic convulsion, dug out with the scalpel of your childhood veruka, the deepest root canal of all your evils.


Here’s what Eumetsat shows:


Which doesn’t look that bad – yet. Further investigation shows that the pressure will dip as low as 940mb though, which is pretty scary, based on the fact that we’re currently sat at 1011mb and Hurricane Katrina was 920mb when it made landfall. (Although not in Cape Town, obviously.)  

I love this sort of weather, even though we’re going to see winds close on 100kph. I hope to get out and about with the camera, like I did last August, which was spectacular.

So assuming we make it through in one piece, what of next week? Wavescape has that covered:

The storm swell is expected to peak at a very steep, short frequency surge to 20 feet by Saturday evening and into Sunday before it boosts to 25 feet on Sunday afternoon, with Monday huge too, Tuesday cranking as the wind eases. The whole coast between Agulhas and the Wild Coast is absolutely off its face on Monday and Tuesday, and solid grinding South swell lasts along the southern Cape all week.

That’s like… totally gnarly, dude.

Three reasons why we’re all buggered

I had one reason why we (South African residents) were all buggered when I left home this morning. Now I have three. By the end of this post, I may have even more. But I’m not going to change the title, as that would merely serve to confuse readers even further.

1. A letter to The Times:

We must give Jacob Zuma’s new cabinet time to prove themselves. Service delivery is a difficult issue to advise politicians on. For the sake of our country, I hope God will guide them. It’s a great combination.

Nathi Khumalo

Jacob Zuma and God “a great combination”? I’ll say.
Hitler and Santa Claus must be devastated to have finally been usurped from their Greatest Combination of Political Leader and Make Believe Character top spot.

2. I agree with Jessie Duarte*:

Instead of answering legitimate criticism about the composition of her provincial Cabinet, she has chosen to insult and demonise the President of the Republic of South Africa. Instead of focusing on the real issues that face South Africans, Zille is obsessed with her personal campaign against Zuma.

Jessie Duarte, ANC spokesperson

Duarte is right.
Despite all the concerning and hilariously offensive ridiculousness which has followed (overseas readers, you HAVE to read this statement from the ANC Youth League), it was Helen Zille’s unnecessary personal swipe at Jacob Zuma in a letter to the Sowetan newspaper which started the whole issue.
And thus, once again, we’re left asking why Zille is still going after Zuma. We had the DA’s view on this pre-election. And since the ANC failed to win their two-thirds majority (just), we have to assume that their tactics worked (just).
But what is the point of this continued personal campaign? Answers on a postcard, please.

3. But it’s academic anyway: we’re all going to die of swine flu and there’s nothing we can do about it:

The so called “swine flu” does not exist, as scientists claim it has mutated and “evolved”, which implies evolution, and evolution does not exist. Therefore, this must be the will of God, and nothing can stop that.

RS Diaz, New York

Why is it that creationists always seem, somehow… less evolved?

EDIT: Chris Roper’s column
EDIT II: Umkhonto we Sizwe weigh in.
EDIT III: Significantly, the ANC distances itself from the ANCYL’s comments on Zille. Great politics. That’s how you do it, Helen.

* I always said that the day Jessie Duarte and I agreed on something, Hell would freeze over and the camels would come skating home.
    Today is that day. It is noticably colder already.

Xenophobia – One Year On

One year after the wave of xenophobic attacks swept across South Africa, a quick revisit to some of the stories from last May and a look at where we are now.

We, more than many other nations, should know better. We should know better because we have just emerged from more than three centuries of the horror of settler colonialism and apartheid… This madness has to stop. There is simply no justification for attacking people simply because they are not South African nationals.

Editorial, City Press. May 2008.

The Times takes a look at how those affected are still haunted by the events of May 2008.

Meanwhile, those displaced by the violence are concerned about the onset of winter in the Cape. 

“The government cut electricity last year. It is painful to live under (such) hard conditions. Now winter is coming, I don’t know what is going to happen,” said Dieudonne Masumbuko, who was among a group gathering charcoal to ward off the cold and prepare food. Masumbuko, from Burundi, does not want to return to the local community from whom he fled, but wants to be sent to any country other than his own “where there are problems”.

Burundi native Jacqueline Uwamahoro said keeping her two children healthy and safe during the winter was her big concern.
“The tents are already broken, so water will flow in,” said Uwamahoro. “There is no electricity so I have to bath the children in cold water.”

My posts on the xenophobic attacks last year are still by far the most searched items on 6000 miles… Read them here.

Although it was making all the headlines at the time, the xenophobia in SA disappeared fairly rapidly from the news, although xenophobia is immediately given as a possible cause when any incident involving violence against foreign nationals is reported, in light of last year’s events. But these are just sporadic occurrences – we have seen no repeat of the orchestrated violence which shamed the country last May.

So has SA moved on? Ben Sithole, a Mozambican living in Ramaphosa doesn’t think so:

“Those images I saw, and the victims’ cries for help … are still haunting me .. .”

He is one of a handful of foreigners who returned, and he knows he’s not safe. Though his neighbours have assured him that they will protect him, the people who burned his friend to death are still there, boasting about their crime, and some areas are too dangerous for him to enter.

Finally, a happier tale of Lizbeth Gumbi and Gustodio Muvale who escaped the violence and were given refuge by a couple in Primrose on the East Rand. Their child Zanele will turn one year old later this month.

I hope that her name and story can be remembered alongside those of Ernesto Nhamuave, the “burning man” whose picture shocked the world last May. Because while the appalling and unnecessary xenophobic violence is something that cannot and should not be forgotten, that good news stories and renewed hope can come out of such horror is an important lesson we can also learn.


I’m not Zille-bashing, but…

This article on news24 does rather seem to continue the “OMG, we’re all… doomed… doomed!”  scare tactics thread that characterised the DA’s final approach to the elections last month. And while I recognise that it is Zille’s and the DA’s job to question the Government, I’m not quite sure what value there is in criticising each and every cabinet appointment. I found her disingenuous use of Angie Motshekga’s quote particularly distasteful.
To whom did the DA expect that those jobs would be given? Were they really thinking that the ANC, having just wiped the floor (again) with the opposition parties would then appoint them into the cabinet?

And if so, why didn’t Helen Zille appoint an all-ANC front bench to the Western Cape Provincial Government?

I just can’t reconcile this:

“With few exceptions, President Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet is bad news for South Africa,” Zille said.
Zille said Zuma’s decision to revamp the structure of Cabinet raised more questions than it provided answers.

with this:

Zille said the Cabinet needed to be given time before its performance could be properly judged.

Because it sounds to me like you’ve made your mind up already, Helen.

SAMA winners

This weekend gave us the 2009 South African Music Awards and I’m happy to report that several of the bands supported on this blog came through as winners:

But if Saturday night reminded us just how good SA music can be, we were brought right back down to earth by the final of SA Idols on Sunday. If you want to know just how good the standard of SA Idols is, then don’t ask me. I was just unfortunate enough to catch the last ten minutes in a poorly organised glance at what was on Carte Blanche at 7. I have now been put right off Mnet for life.

(For those of you interested, a duet by Sasha and Lee beat Jason into 3rd place, apparently.)