A huge fuss has been made in this week’s media about the painting of our president with his canoodle hanging around some art gallery in Johannesburg. Although I do not mean in any way to be insensitive to those that feel their culture and or their leader is being defamed, one has to ponder on the ANC and their partner’s basic lack of knowledge, ability and motivation around communicating with the media, the public and its opponents. Is it that they regard us as idiots that will just accept anything they say or is it becoming a clear disregard for democracy and are we slowing seeing ourselves moving towards a dictator state.
The biggest irony in the ANC’s complaint against the “defaming” painting is that this painting caused minimal uproar when it first arrived on the scene. News broadcaster did not really mention it and the public did not really comment on it. In fact it was basically just another painting being displayed in a gallery that little people knew of and that maybe a handful of people would have seen and commented on. But then the mighty ANC saw it. They did not react with quiet diplomacy, their own invention without any true meaning, or soft handed negotiations. No - the ever so aggressive Lion roared and growled and successfully took this piece of art and made it news of the week. Although the painting was and would have remained generally unknown and the general public would have been unaware the social media pages are now overloaded and the web is bursting like the pants depicted in the drawing. The ANC’s achievement of the week? Taking a relatively unknown gallery (at least to non arts people) and making it front page news, whilst boosting the exhibition to one of the biggest ever. What about poor Mr. Zuma’s Pumba , it is now a public Pumba backed by more publicity that even Marcus Brewster could have dreamed of.
Putting our president’s private parts back out of mind, where it belongs. Let’s look at the E-TOLL communications blunder. The court ruling that is regarded as the public’s victory over tyranny and some even call it the biggest and most important judgment made since democracy. The quesion should also be aksed, why such a public uproar about the e-toll? SANRAL has been telling us all about it for ages, weren’t they. Was it just about the fact that it was going to rape the average wallet by 33c per kilometer? No, I don’t think so; it was because SANRAL (The ANC) actually never told us anything, apart from the fact that we would have to pay. They refused to play open cards or any type of cards for that matter with the public. SANRAL made a mockery of COSATU by giving them edited documents and high ranking ANC members were telling the public that e-toll will come “finish & klaar”. Did the original author of this eloquent phrase not also come from the ANC and see his quick demise with a similar attitude. The fact is that if SANRAL and our beloved government played open cards, communicated properly and gave us truthful reasons why we now had to pay 33c per kilometer to sit in traffic on our way to work, just to to earn our salaries an pay more taxes again. The public may not have had such a noisy and expensive outcry.
Okay but two examples to not show a pandemic starting. Is it? Can It? Let’s look at the ANC’s biggest buddy, COSATU. This week the leaders of COSATU clearly showed their astute ability in coming up with witty and intellectual arguments when the DA decided to march on their offices. A right that COSATU fights for and demands without question. They did not decide to merely accept their memorandum and use the platform created FREE OF CHARGE by the DA to show the COSATU view. No, never, COSATU rather chose to hold an illegal march and throw bricks at the DA members and again taking an event that would have passed through the news in day to two and succesfully creating a reporters gem and providing international media houses with footage and leverage to depict SA as intolerant and violent. Most of the people of SA are yearning for mutual respect and their own safe spot under the African sun however our leaders could not be bothered about opinions that differ from their own.
Maybe that is why international investors regard South Africa as the country with the most aggressive and unpredictable labour movement in the world.
Now one has to sit back and ponder. Is it starting to become the norm to find that our political leaders, when questioned or differed with, immediately revert to aggression and less sophisticated structures of communication? In all three instances, the ANC, SANRAL and COSATU’s unwavering dedication to arrogance, aggression and dare I say less intellectual debating methods costs them these rounds and developed anthills into skyscrapers. The sad reality is that the true tragedy behind these media and communicative fiasco’s is that the “style” of operation caused more pain and hardship for that very reason or persons the difference occurred.
Mr. Zuma’s Pumba is now for all to see, not just the select few of us that enjoy arts. SANRAL still owes R 20 Billion and the litigation costs did not help. The youth still seeks employment and cannot be part of open, rigorous and honest debate on whether this subsidy is in fact the correct option for them.
For as long as we tolerate leaders who employ cloak and dagger communications structures and moves straight into retaliation mode when questioned without the maturity to stop for 5 seconds and think of the consequences . We, the people of SA, will remain the overall losers.