Posts tagged "zuma"

The normalisation of madness

A number of insights during a debate at the University of Cape Town – Betrayal of the Promise: Understanding South Africa’s Political Crisis – came from the youngest panel member Sikhulekile Duma, a researcher at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University. One, in particular, resonated with me when he talked about how we have normalised madness in South Africa … and not only because “we accept that Khayelitsha exists”.

Picture the scene: We are sitting in a lecture hall at a great South African university. We are listening to respected leaders from the academic, legal and business worlds calmly discuss the silent coup that we all believe has taken place in our country.

GuptasThe stories of multi-million rand bribes, hundreds of leaked emails and free holidays in Dubai all lead to a foreign (possibly naturalised) family, which is widely accepted to have bought the state.

They are not puppeteers, we are told, they are brokers of corruption and favours for the elite. They are the fixers and the can-do guys at the top of the pile in a neat system where the patron need not shop around, or take too many risks.

Normalising madness indeed!



Calm speech belies chaos at Sona, wider crisis

Not getting her hopes up: Helen Zille said she found this old frock in the cupboard

What a difference 10 minutes can make!

Once Parliament had been cleared of his most vocal opponents, many of them by force, President Jacob Zuma started a State of the Nation Address (Sona) that would have seemed fitting in the most sedate of countries.

His final Sona as leader of the African National Congress started very dramatically, with disruptions and delays on various points of order. Disagreements, then anger, then threats and scuffles and, finally, ejections from Parliament.

Red alert on the red carpet: EFF MPS

Points of order made by various Economic Freedom Front MPs included the now familiar allegations that Zuma had broken his oath of office.

On this occasion the complaints were expanded to include accusations of skulduggery, including that members of the National Defence Force had plans for EFF MPs involving “biological weapons” and the less obviously dangerous cable ties.

The country held its collective breath as Zuma tried to push ahead with his speech while being shouted down.

Parliament soon descended into chaos, which escalated until EFF MPs were violently ejected. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane led his party out in protest afterwards.

A bloodied and shocked EFF MP Fana Mokoena after his ejection from Parliament

And the winner is: Julius Malema addresses media in front of the big screens outside Parliament after his party was ejected

As the opposition parties regrouped outside Parliament, some of them quite battered and bruised, Zuma started his speech by calling on some safe old favourites.

This was safe ground indeed, it is hard to imagine upsetting many in South Africa by paying tribute to such heroes as Oliver Tambo and Miriam Makeba.

These tributes to the dead did, however, bring to mind Speaker Baleka Mbete’s seemingly callous outright refusal earlier in the night of a request from the Democratic Party that Parliament observe a moment’s silence for 94 mentally ill patients who had died in Gauteng.

News about these deaths, which were the result of neglect by the Department of Health, was still fresh in people’s minds. One might think the country stands united in sadness and horror at this hideous treatment of vulnerable citizens. Why not a minute’s silence then?

The show must go on, I guess …

With the House quieter and more friendly, Zuma spent 30 minutes talking about how much had been achieved in the last few years, including “successfully avoiding a credit ratings downgrade”, which some will consider immature.

Here’s one that doesn’t need a caption

The address made for uncomfortable listening, not just because of Zuma’s dedication to random punctuation and ‘mixing it up’ a little phonetically but because it felt so incredibly out of touch, inappropriate even, like laughter at a funeral … or giggling as your country burns maybe.

Listening to the address one would be forgiven for thinking that all was well in South Africa, with an economy well on track to better times.

Zuma spent time laying out in some detail the aims of the government’s nine-point plan to ignite economic development, which was announced last year. A veritable wishlist of what a development economist might propose as possible interventions to fix an ailing economy, it was pretty low on detail of what had actually been achieved.

State of the nation’s dreams? Yes! State of the nation? I think not!

Trotting out a few old legends and rabbiting on about policy without meaningful reference to practice seemed like a poor attempt at populism on a night when that prize had already been won by Juju and the Red Overalls.

It was almost 9.30pm by the time Zuma threatened to step up a gear, saying he would look at priorities for the year ahead. Those who let their hopes be raised that the best was still to come were quickly disappointed.

We were left feeling that the ANC is so divided and the guy at the top is just buying time dusting off old heroes, policies and ideas, fiddling, giggling … adding nothing.

Pay Back The Curry! delivers a feast of satire

DanielRichardsI was expecting a large helping of slapstick with a dash of spice from Pay Back The Curry!, which opened at the Baxter Theatre on Tuesday, and was delighted to be served a feast of sophisticated satire.

The sketches and references were so fresh that it felt like playwright Mike van Graan might be cooking them up in a kitchen behind the stage. But the creative team, which includes producer Siv Ngesi and director Rob van Vuuren, would have had little time for chopping and dicing on the night.

Actor Daniel Richards served the courses at lightning speed, with changes between skits coming almost as fast as he changed persona, accent, gender, sexuality, you name it, to play a diverse cast of characters in every scene.

He transitioned smoothly throughout between such roles as a high-speed commentator (in South Africa’s horse race of an election) and the country’s Number One subject of ridicule, without ever so much as dropping a fork.

This is more than absolutely cracking comedy. It is razor sharp satire that delivers thought-provoking commentary with a double order of belly-laughs on the side. Its timely arrival, coinciding neatly with the start of a new stage in South Africa’s democracy, reminded me that a new era has arrived for the rainbow nation.

Pay Back the Curry! is showing at the Baxter Theatre’s Golden Arrow Studio until August 27, followed by a run at the Kalk Bay Theatre, from August 30 to September 10. – African News Agency (ANA)