Its Election Time …..again

October 20, 2008

Election fever is in the air…if its not the US elections that everyone’s buzzing about, then here in South Africa, early campaigning has started in earnest, with the (now split) ANC carrying out “outreach” programmes in various communities, in the buildup to next year’s presidential elections.

So I decided to sacrifice a Sunday afternoon (which I normally spend doing things, I’d rather not mention on this blog : ), and go along to one such “outreach” meeting. Having sworn to never align myself to any party political agenda, this meeting was a reminder for me, about why I had decided to take such a position, in the first place. The audience was “treated” to a visit down memory lane, to be reminded about the ANC’s great legacy. I nodded at the bits about the party leadership up till 1996…pretty much everything that has happened within the ANC since then, has for me, left much to be desired. Let me not be misunderstood however….the ruling party has brought a level of political stability to South Africa, that is, compared to other African nations, impressive and worthy of being praised. However it has also been the party, under who’s leadership, there is now a greater gap between rich and poor, more HIV infections, and greater levels of poverty and crime.

So the ANC tries to, at this outreach meeting, convince those attending, that it still has the interests of ALL at heart. I don’t doubt this…I’m just wondering though, how committed the party is, to showing this in some substantive way, like actually rejecting its neoliberal agenda, and refocusing its efforts on addressing the concerns of the poor masses, those people who have consistently voted the party into power, since 1994. I have however yet to see this really happening, since the Polokwane conference last year.  

Hmmm….I wait with bated breath…after all election fever is in the air. Anything can happen.


Of Spats, Splits and Suspensions : Where to now for the ANC ?

October 13, 2008

The news that members of the ANC such as Terror Lekota are being “suspended”, by the ANC’s executive, is, given the recent shenanigans of the so called “lefty” ANC, really quite laughable. It raises all kinds of questions about the moral and ethical fabric  of the ANC structures, which seem to have been  seriously denuded, over the last few weeks. In fact the signs were there from Polokwane, which signalled the beginning of the demise, not because a new leadership structure was elected, but because the emphasis of the changing of the guard was around bringing into power a man who was effectively someone who would, it was assumed, pay back the favors of political support he had recieved, once in office. Of course this practice is nothing new in politics, what was surprising however was that it was taking place amongst the successors of struggle stalwarts such as Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Sisulu and others, who would most definitely not have condoned the decisions that have been taken by the current leadership.

The question now arises : what next for a party that is basically lurching from one crisis to another? Spats and splits amongst ANC factions have happened before, but with suspensions taking place, does this mean that there are now some members who have the “legitimate” right to speak for the ANC and others who don’t? How do we understand the new dynamics of what is going on?

It would appear that the ANC is actually going through not just a political crisis but an existential one as well. The foundations on which it was established have seemingly been replaced by self-serving narrow interests and agendas, where the point of struggle is now no longer about striving towards social justice, equality and non-racialism, but the goal has become “geared” towards advancing crony capitalism, factionalism and sharing the spoils of elite pacting.

Of course this tendency was alive and well  under Mbeki’s regime too, so for the new leadership to claim that it will change the way things were done, is rich. What has happened at Polokwane, is that those that were out of the “inner” circle, have now become part of it, and they will simply take forward the established modus operandi, couched in some fancy lefty rhetoric.  More old wine with new bottles, showing a crack here and there.

As for the rest of us, well we can only try and not become bilious at these mercenary tactics playing themselves out. I think it might actually be good for a new party to come out of the ANC split, because this will illustrate to the new ANC vanguard that while they might consider themselves as the only game in town, there are those who will not tolerate being told that they no longer “belong”. They will despite their own shortcomings, find new political life, and may even become a better option for the masses, than the mother body. While I am not holding my breath, that this may actually happen, I hope I am pleasantly surprised.

Guzzie…Hold Me back ekse

October 2, 2008

So I had the urge to say this a few times when in polite company, like at university gatherings and the like, when what you really want to do is to hit someone who is annoying the hell out of you. But of course it’s not the appropriate way to behave, and geez have i had to learn what is appropriate and what is not, over the last few years.

But I wish I could say it to be honest, whenever the need arose, or other choice phrases like jou ma se…and voetsek…all part of our colourful South African vocabulary. And what a vibrant vocabulary it is. Especially when one needs to express a variety of emotions, like hurt / pain (eina), shock / surprise (jislaaik), disbelief (don’t choon), despair (eks gatvol), comradeliness (howzit my bru), expectation (en nou?) and national pride/ patriotism (moer hulle).

Its nice to know that despite our very deep differences as a country, we do actually have something that binds us (apart from pap and braavleis that is), a unique liguistic code, which we can deploy whenever necessary and it will be understood (most times), by our fellow nationals wherever we may be. So heres to our collective lingo…  ya ekse, local is lekker…

On Changing of the Guard : Politics in South Africa

September 26, 2008

When I was in England, several years ago, I was told to go and check out this cool ritual that the guards at Buckingham palace perform with great finesse and I guess precision….you gotta have really good balance and all that, to get it right.  Its called the changing of the guard and its meant to be all about protecting the sovereign, and of course rotating the guards, who despite their outstanding training, standing for hours in front of the palace, obviously have to go home and do the normal things that other regular folk do.  I have to say though, it was worth the time and effort spent getting there, and ogling these fellas marching up and down. Quite the spectacle.

I was reminded of the idea of the changing of the guard, this week, given the dramas that have taken place in South African politics. It wasn’t quite the well orchestrated scenario, that the Brits get to see daily (thats an understatement) nor did it have any of the well rehearsed confidence that comes with knowing exactly where to stand, when to turn and when to march. But it sure was colourful and damn jaw dropping stuff. 

Now that us folks in South Africa have had about a day to recover from the goings on of this last week, I’m sure most of us are wondering, where to from here. My take would be to just sit back, perhaps playing something of the tourist, (after all its sort of like an adventure in unchartered territory), and just be grateful, that there was actually a new guard competent enough to come in.  It could have got very ugly, but it didn’t.

Pity that Zakumi, the friendly green haired leopard, our 2010 world cup mascot, got lost somewhat in all the excitement., and didn’t get all the attention he deserved. Oh well, maybe he can help the new folks in government, with getting their moves right. Hopefully it won’t be more of look left, march right : )