Eskom and the March

2015-05-17 13:13

With stage 2 load shedding implemented as we speak, it is a real comfort to know that finally someone is doing something about the dastardly Eskom. And it’s the ANC. They have had enough of all this nonsense and in what should lead to collective sigh of national relief, have decided to march against this outrage. Or outage, as it were. Indeed, we might be buoyed, if not perhaps slightly perplexed to know that finally something is going to be done. The ANC has it in hand and is marching against Eskom.

It happens all too often in this wonderfully entertaining country of ours that one looks to the top of the page to check that the date is not April 1. That the article is a not a cruel April fool’s joke. Assuming that it’s sometime in May, one does then need to check that the article is not home to a new satire publication, and should neither be the case, and after confirming with at least 3 independent sources, and verifying with a number of websites, one is free to believe and to apply the adage, “Only in South Africa…”

It happened last week. The ANC marched in Soweto against Eskom. True story. That, for the still confused, is like Mac Maharaj demanding that President Zuma pay back the money. It’s like your mail man (person) protesting non-delivery of letters. It’s absurd and it mad and somehow it makes me smile. Because where else but in this country could this be reported as news, with a straight face.

Of course we like a good march. If marching was an Olympic sport South Africa would be the reigning champions. We would win gold after gold and no one could touch us. We have been doing it all our lives, some of us even earlier and we are darn good at it. We would march circles around those steroid injected Russians and we would do it in song. We would be colour coordinated and we would be bussed and we would stop for chicken along the way. Because nothing makes one hungry like a good march. And nothing says protest quite like a spanking new T-shirt and so we would look awesome. Because there is little South Africans love better than a darn good protest.

Except that it’s a bit confusing really. Is there anyone in this country who doesn’t know that Eskom is a parastatal? I find it difficult to imagine that there is anyone who really believes that Jan Van Darn Riebeck turned the lights out, and that the ANC government isn’t Eskom-liable. And yet, in what have been the most successful turn around marketing campaign of all time, the ANC managed to convince a bunch of protesters that there is a Chinese wall between the two entities.

And they were believed. I can imagine the EFF and the DA scratching their heads in wonderment, pondering what just happened and how they managed to usurp what should have been their domain and their right to protest. It’s sheer brilliance.

Imagine, just for a moment, if just before Mmusi Maimane stood up to give his “You are not an honorable man” speech to President Zuma, that the President leapt to the podium and said, “Wait Mmusi! Before you speak I have something to say!” Silence would have fallen in parliament. Those MPs who were well asleep would be roused by the sudden shift in energy and by the air of anticipation. They would open their eyes (maybe even both), and would listen carefully, “ Mmusi,” President Zuma would say, “I am not an honorable man!”

The course of South Afican history would have been altered. Mmusi would flounder, looking in his pockets for an alternative speech. He would not have spoken the words that have now defined him. He would not have been elected leader of the DA and President Zuma would have effectively done what the ANC did last week. He would have marched against himself.

The ANC protesting against Eskom was a stroke of genius. Of course no one but the marchers bought it, and of course no one but the marchers and the T-shirt people and the chicken vendors took it seriously. But it does show that we live in a land of possibility. Where from one week to the next, well, anything at all can happen. And that is awesome.

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