Colour in the house: Team Black vs Team Red

2011-11-23 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The atmosphere was reminiscent of a school sports day.

There were two teams facing off in the National Assembly, with the black team shouting “No!” and the team featuring mainly red outfits shouting “Yes!”

The atmosphere was almost congenial in the National Assembly as time ticked away until the moment when a final “Yes!” in favour of the Protection of State Information Bill sounded from the ANC benches at 3.20 pm.

A naïve, ordinary person will have found this amiability, this almost childlike banter in Parliament, disconcerting. You’re sitting there in the gallery with your media colleagues and other members of the public, looking down on your leaders.

You’re dressed in black to show your condemnation of a bill which, in the words of the editors’ forum, could suffocate our freedom to know what is being done in our name. It is Black Tuesday.

The sombreness you’re looking for surfaces for a moment when Azapo leader Mosibudi Mangena mentions the name of the late Percy Qoboza.

Because Black Tuesday evokes the memory of Black Wednesday.

That was the day, in October 1977, on which Qoboza’s newspaper, The World, was shut down by the then minister of justice, Jimmy Kruger.

Qoboza and many other people, including a number of journalists, were subsequently detained without trial for six months.

Mangena said there is a photograph of Qoboza in Azapo’s offices: an editor surrounded by police. Some are wearing sunglasses; others are dressed in safari suits.

Haniff Hoosen spoke on behalf of the Independent Democrats. No offence intended, but he did look like Fester Addams. Contributing to his gothic appearance was the fact that a black cloth covered the lower part of his face. But at the end of his impassioned speech he mentioned that he had toothache.

In contrast to this, there was the gaiety of someone like Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in her floral dress and matching red jacket. And the hairdo framing her fine features in a way that reminded one of a well-known depiction of Marie Antoinette.

Then something strange happened. Suddenly my pen refused to write another word. Dana Snyman lent me his pen, but I managed only to make a note about the sphinx-like presence of Deputy President Kgalema Mothlanthe as he sat there impassively next to the vacant seat of the president of South Africa when that pen, too, stopped writing. If it had been a firearm you would have said it had jammed.

So I borrowed a pen from a photographer. And would you believe it: that pen also refused to write.

The last few notes about the day when Parliament voted by 229 votes to 107 in favour of the Protection of State Information Bill were written in pencil.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.