Thoughtleader: Juju does Guy Fawkes?

by Oct 15, 2014Amandla Issue 35, Magazine

Behold, the end of the world is nigh. The barbarians have breached the gates. Savages are redrawing maps without the superpowers. Journalists’ heads are rolling – and not only at Independent Newspapers. Jihadists now speak with English accents. The Generations cast has been fired. Oh, and Juju’s in the house, and he’s not playing nice. Civilization as we know it is trailing on the scoreboard; the stadium clock is ticking, and it’s battling against the final whistle. And metaphors are mixing more than the races in Cape Town.

For the born frees who haven’t given up reading this yet, this sense of impending doom, fostered by Social Media Anxiety Disorder (SMAD), reminds me of a Sub A/Grade 1 story about Chicken Licken.

This feathered creature is eating lunch one fine day when an acorn lands on her head. She panics, believing that the sky is falling. So why did Chicken Licken cross the road? To alert the king that the sky had fallen. Along the way she causes mass hysteria among the other animals, including Cockey Lockey and Goosey Loosey. Breathlessly she tells them that the sky has collapsed like a pyramid car-purchasing scheme, but while she is talking, sly Foxy Loxy is thinking about something else. And before you can say “lemon and herb”, he has eaten Chicken Licken for dinner.

The moral of the story? Slow down on the hysteria. Take a chill pill. Watch The Walking Dead. At least until the next episode of the ANC’s “Rooi Overall Gevaar” soapie. It’s only a matter of time before the Parliamentary Channel is open to advertisers who will get more bangs for their buck than they would on the Oscar channel. Perhaps this would be a more transparent way of funding our political parties at election time; the more advertising revenue a party generated through its performance, the more it would get to make promises to the people.

Our liberation-movement-cum-ruling-party believes it will rule till JC comes back.Better JC than JZ, anyway. If the ANC were to rule till JZ came, we’d be deep into Helen Zille’s second presidential term. For all that, the party appears to be overly concerned that Juju is going to go all Guy Fawkes on us. Baleka Mbete, Number One’s number one human shield who doubles as his drone, has accused the EFF of having “no respect for Parliament as an institution” and of showing “no regard for the conventions of parliament”.

Now which conventions are those? Our MPs, who are elected to serve the people, parade in made-in-China fashions that barely covering their fuck-the-poor T-shirts; they pose and sashay at the opening of parliament as if auditioning for gigs as Banting diet “before” models.

Who does parliament really work for? We get an idea when we read that Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa initiated a meeting to discuss the reinstatement of the fired bling Generations actors – who, according to City Press, earned a paltry R40 000 to R80 000 per month. This placed them the top twenty percent in our country who earn 70% of the national income. Yet in his previous incarnation as minister of police, Mthethwa sent in his police to brutally end a strike by “criminals” demanding the astronomical sum of R12,500 per month. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the “parliament of the people”.

What “respect for Parliament as an institution” is Mbete talking about? She is both national chairperson of the ANC and speaker of parliament. This double act involves an intrinsic conflict of interests. Mbete is stifling debate by confusing the interests of her party with those of our country. She called in the police to remove EFF members who refused to participate in a process that was determined by her biased terms and then demanded that they tell her why they should not be suspended. Yet MPs who defrauded parliament by submitting falsified travel claims are allowed to continue in parliament, some even as cabinet ministers.

The real criminals who should be held accountable are let off the hook. So much for respecting parliament and its conventions! Perhaps this is why MPs have a swearing-in ceremony: to take the Hypocritic Oath.

Then Gwede Mantashe gets in on the act. He berates members of the police who were reluctant to shed EFF blood in parliament because, Mantashe believes, they were under the influence of the DA – unlike their counterparts in the North West who acted at the behest of ANC leaders. It sounds like Mantashe was under the influence of something a lot stronger when he made his subsequent call to reintroduce capital punishment by relocating parliament from Cape Town to Gauteng – notwithstanding the electoral writing on Gauteng’s wall.

Mbete says the EFF “made a mockery” of the dignity of the people who voted for parliament. Which people exactly? Surely not the hundreds of thousands of people who once voted for a better life, and got a shorter one instead – courtesy of the ANC’s beetroot and garlic muti. They got their promised piece of land all right – six feet under. And surely not the millions of “our people” living well below the poverty line, or those who suffer the indignities of unemployment, or others who are crammed into soulless, bland RDP houses, each of which cost far less than Nkandla’s chicken run.

How are we to take the ANC seriously? The ANC has conducted an unrelenting assault on parliament and the constitutional mechanisms that were established to deliver and protect our democracy. And now the very party that is responsible for hollowing out our democracy at is very heart, in the national assembly, is crying wolf at the EFF’s disrespect for our democratic institutions.

Such is the doublespeak of the ANC that one of its spokespersons has suggested that the ANC may not be able to restrain its “members” – that is, the rent-a-thugs they bus into the parliamentary gallery – should the EFF contravene the conventions of the House again. Like the ironically honourable Brutus, these brutes bestow upon themselves the colonial mantle of “honourable”, while threatening violence and viciously stabbing our nascent democracy in its back.

Ebola is wreaking havoc in West Africa, the president’s lobola costs are wreaking havoc on the public purse, and Julius, who has not rendered unto Caesar, will survive the SARS virus for a few months more.

The problem with the EFF is that they think like Africans. They want to mess with our European parliamentary system, which has delivered very-nicely-thank-you-very-much – for those who get the German sedan motorcades, the Italian suits and the Scottish hard spirits.Ironically, it is to Europe that many are now looking when they caricature the dangers of the EFF. They compare them, no less, to the Nazis. What is this spectre is supposed to conjure up in us? Fear of gas chambers? Brown uniforms? That our art will be stolen?

This diversionary sideshow may get the chattering classes reaching for their passports or hoarding packets of Woolies muesli, but how much worse could it actually be for the majority of people in this country? Do they need reminding that it was not an apparent megalomaniac in army fatigues but a British-educated man in a suit, with a pipe in his mouth and a computer mouse in his hand, who singlehandedly reduced poverty in our country by prematurely sending off hundreds of thousands of poor people to a virginless afterlife?

Opportunistically, the ANC has made much of its recent parliamentary standoff with the EFF. It has cast itself in the role of defender of our democracy, when the fundamental issue of the confrontation was the corrupt expenditure of state resources on the personal home of the president. More than that, the EFF is highlighting what those who most enjoy the benefits of incumbency refuse to hear: “it’s the system, stupid!” They are exposing the ruling party’s Faustian pact – a political kingdom in exchange for perpetuating an economic structure that continues to benefit a few.

And so we have another round of the ruling party’s political game. This is to divert discussion from the core issues of social injustice and inequality, and from the fact that its own policies and actions are at the heart of the problem.

If the end of our world is nigh, it’s not because of the EFF.

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