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Where have all the politicians gone?

31 December 2012, 14:52

King Jacob has struck again!

Having nicely stirred the pot of national divide by using spurious cultural - or, if you are a simpleton, racial – comparisons of dog ownership/care and the linear nature or otherwise of your hair, exciting much debate and choler in the process, His Royal Majesty has the brass-necked effrontery now to call for a national moral and spiritual cleansing. One must ask whose morals and spiritual ethics will be cleansed away and whose will be left behind after the scrubbing job.

And, because the typical South African is so easy to provoke by way of simplistic and offensive labels, King Jacob and the ANC got the expected and so-easily predictable knee-jerk reaction of so many sections of our uneasy community. When will South Africans, of whatever hue and whatever allegiance, wake up and realize that they are being played like a fish on the line or, more appropriately, like a marionette on strings?

The guns and bombs of the past struggles may not be in as much evidence as before, but an equally destructive war of terror is being waged against ALL the inhabitants of this country. Using the strategy and tactics of fear, the ANC is using the features and benefits of democratic institutions to attack and suborn the democratic fabric of the very country and democracy they are supposed to defend and protect.

Any Presidential or ministerial statement, off the cuff or no, resulting in discord, uncertainty, fear and hatred – whether intended or not, whether misinterpreted or not – can have no place in any society desiring to heal itself after a traumatic past and wishing to find peace, justice and identity.

Words cannot be withdrawn; the damage is done. And Mac the Mouth (thank you Mr. Slyme) can tap dance as much as he wants on the lip of the catastrophic Zuma-curve as he tries to interpret and re-interpret the words of his master; the words and the images remain and the emotions and fears persist. King Jacob seems to rely, more and more, on Mac’s divination of the Royal Mind and the subsequent spin and damage control. This may prove, in the fullness of time and given Mac’s apparent inability to speak on the President’s behalf without resorting to hollow-sounding expressions and rhetoric rather than original wording and sentiments, to be counter-productive.

This assumes, of course, that Zuma is a total idiot and needs the somewhat dubious skills of The Mouth to restore him to credibility and respectability in smoothing over all the ruffled feathers.

An alternative view is to assume that the ‘foot-in-mouth-I-was-quoted-out-of-context-Zuma’ image is but an artifact of a cunning, though not clever, ANC strategy based on what they fondly hope to be a hidden agenda that promotes and exploits further racial division within South Africa in order to divide and weaken opposition to the ANC; this would explain the doublethink nature of pitting so-called black cultural norms against so-called white cultural norms and then immediately afterwards cynically calling for the collaboration of respected religious and spiritual leaders in the community to conduct a moral regeneration and cleansing of the nation. This perspective might better illumine the fears of the ANC in losing their grip on the cookie jar in which their collective hand is so often found to be buried up to the armpit.

King Jacob has (again), in effect, nonchalantly dropped a spark into the box of mixed fireworks that is present-day South Africa, calmly observed the resultant and destructive explosives display and then issued a call for a national campaign on firework safety. His Majesty could be argued to be more interested in leading his party rather than leading the country, careless of the damage done by his actions to the spectators and participants of the firework display and mindful only of how he looks to the injured and dying.

But where, one must ask, in this entire furore, are all the non-ANC politicians and commentators?

Where are the objections and counterpoint arguments from our opposition parties? I, for one, have seen or heard nothing from Helen Zille, Bantu Holomisa or any other non-ANC politician. Are they telling us, by omission, that they agree with His Majesty? Are they, perhaps, all overseas on holiday? Do they care?

One would have thought that this entire recent episode of the ANC slipping loose the pups of war would have been a wonderful opportunity to at least have a poke at the self-appointed royal dynasty of South Africa. Yet, nary a word; maybe I read the wrong newspapers.

Where are the questions from the formal opposition parties concerning the fundamental premises of the President’s and ANC’s apparently divisive statements and underlying thinking – be it on the rights of minorities (whoever they may be) as opposed to the majority (whoever they might be), the acceptability or otherwise of dog ownership, the role in a modern day democracy of traditional courts (and just whose traditions, anyway?), the rights and wrongs (and in whose eyes?) of having straight or curly hair, darker or lighter skin, of being clever or merely compliant, or whatever.

Where are the alternative ideas and arguments (and I speak here not of the rampant and vitriolic often unreasoned fuming of the far-left or far-right; extremes will always produce their share of bigotry, stupidity and downright lunacy)?

Where are those who can and will present viable, well thought-out and lucid counters to the deceptions and distractions of the ANC as it seeks to further entrench and enrich itself on what is rapidly becoming the carcass of South African society and its economy?

Entertaining (in a sadomasochistic way) as the ANC might be in terms of its antics, why is it only the ANC that dominates the headlines? I fully understand that the media courts and rewards controversy because it is exciting and increases circulation and advertisers, but when are the other political parties in this country going to learn that they are being squeezed out and effectively silenced because they do not adequately and appropriately respond to the ANC and its dominance of the news market – even if that dominance is for entirely the wrong reasons? Is it perhaps surprising that many people in South Africa might think that the ANC is the only game in town?

All of this then begs the question: what is it about South Africans that always they cry and then wait for leadership?

We criticize – justifiably, in many instances – the ANC. They are an easy target because they are in government and there is no way (much as they might like to think otherwise) that they can satisfy all of the people all of the time and it’s easy to take potshots at an established, smug and comfortable regime that thinks it has it made.

But isn’t it time that we started to demand of our other politicians not of the ANC that they, too, must step up to the plate and give us something, equally volubly and headline-grabbing, to stand against the ANC by way of comparison? Modern-day politics is very largely about publicity and popularity; this might not be ideal or even desirable but it is the way of modern politics. And, not to put too fine a point on it, this is just what we do not see from any of the many other political parties in this country. We rarely see or hear anything of them. We do not know what they are thinking and how their thoughts, policies and ethics would impact us. Have they, together with the ANC, settled into a nice comfortable niche where the status quo is rewarding enough not to rock the boat too much? Where is the courage of their particular convictions – and when are we going to see that courage manifest itself?

The fire in the belly of the ANC has been extinguished by a surfeit of sushi, SUV’s, mansions, executive perks, bonuses and expanding waistlines. We now need our other parties and their luminaries – ALL our other parties – to stand toe-to-toe with the ANC and spit in their eye over the many inefficiencies, ineptitudes, injustices and inequalities that have either carried over from previous days or have been created since their ascent to power.


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