I rather wish that I could be paid for my writing efforts on News24. I figure that I could give up the day job and make a comfortable living raising questions and generally poking a bit of (horrified) fun at the many absurdities brought before us, on a daily basis and in considerable quantity, by our often feckless politicians here in South Africa.
King Jacob is, of course, the most obvious and easiest target. Had he attended much school he might very well have been the poor hapless soul who was most likely to have had a “KICK ME!” sign stuck on to his back by some of his more mischievous fellows. I suspect that many of his contemporary political colleagues perform that little trick on him even today, given His Majesty’s propensity to say and do the wrong thing, in the wrong way, at the wrong time. Perhaps some of those went to school - or shared herding duties – with him.
Today we shall spare His Royal Showerness, even though, strictly speaking, he should be accorded a ‘Share’ in this week’s inaugural KICK ME! Award.
No, today honours go to Mac Maharaj, Spokesman (Spokesperson? Spokesthingy? Just what is the current politically-correct jargon this month?) for the Presidency.
For many weeks now we have all been holding our collective breath for the most respected person in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, following his admission to hospital. I, for one, sincerely wish him the best, but the reality is that the old chap is 94 years old and the prospects for any great extension to his life are becoming increasingly remote. One cannot be sure that, even if he does live any longer, his quality of life will be worth a plugged nickel.
Now, in this age of collective governance and royal ‘we’ teamspeak, we might never get to know whether the various pronouncements of Mac the Mouth in recent weeks originated from somewhere buried within Mac’s own brain while King Jacob was perched high on some dusty shelf getting his chip re-programmed, or from some sub- sub- sub-committee deep in the bowels of the NEC. But Mac said the words.
Misleading the public on Mr. Mandela’s whereabouts by NOT saying that the great man was not at the One Military Hospital. Then denying he misled anyone. Sure.
Silently condoning the sham roadblocks, Military Police presence and apparently fake hospital visits, complete with public statements by visiting dignitaries saying how good Madiba looked, at that hospital. Then denying a conspiracy of silence on the part of the ANC. Yeah, right.
Issuing statements that Mandela was in hospital and (I paraphrase) ‘receiving treatment to which he was responding consistent with a man of his age’. Now what does that mean? That was responding well? That he was not responding well? That they were measuring him for a pine box? Nothingspeak!
Issuing repeated statements requesting that the public respect Mandela’s privacy. Does Mac honestly believe that anyone other than publicity-hungry ANC rent-a-crowd hangers-on, ever eager to be seen by their patrons and paymasters in the cabinet and the NEC, would be able to afford even one day away from the daily struggle to earn even the most basic of incomes, just to march and chant their good wishes for the former President? Or perhaps this was meant to keep the ANC solidly in the limelight as so many of their upper ranks made their not-so-discreet visits to Mandela, without having to share any of the glory of public commiseration with the unwashed masses? Perhaps Mac was worried that Madiba’s cell phone (which number is shared by oh-so many of the ordinary citizens of this country) might ring incessantly, thereby disturbing the sick room? The other one’s got bells on it.
Lastly, issuing a statement a couple of days ago that, despite not having heard any recent reports from the doctors attending Mandela at home, the great man’s treatment was ‘on track’. (I guess this was on the basis that no news is good news). Again, what does this mean? ‘On track’ to or for what? That he’s an old man and declining as expected? Or that he’s an old man and he’s surprising the hell out of us all and we’re worried he’s going to contest the next elections against us? Headline today! We have no news! But look how well the ANC keeps the masses informed!
I confess to feeling just a little sorry for Mac the Mouth. I can imagine him, on waking up each morning, thinking to himself, “Oh God! What will it be today that I’m going to have to deny, interpret, re-interpret, explain, expand on, or otherwise be made to look like a total pillock in front of the whole world?” It can’t be that pleasant knowing that, having personally demonstrated the Peter Principle, he occupies a job that could easily be done by some poor dropout from one of our state schools at far less cost to the taxpayer.
Rarely, in the history of Mankind, has there been a person who has been able to say nothing with so many words and in so many appearances before the Press.
Well done, Mac the Mouth, Inaugural Winner of the ‘Kick Me!’ Award!
(Nominations for future awards are now open to the public).