So I was taken to task the other day, for repeatedly having a go at the continual lunacy I see coming out of the US of A. The latest editions being that Missouri wants to ban food stamp recipients from buying fancy food, another ‘abstinence-only” advocate’s underage daughter gets banged up and Senator Tom Cotton (yes, he of the letter to Iran clusterfuck) basically said that gays should be thankful they’re just discriminated against in Indiana, and not executed. No, really. But more on these in later posts, I’m sure.
He was upset that I was constantly attacking his homeland, his identity as an American, and admittedly I did poke the bear by pointing out that Texas was home to both Ted Cruz and the dumbest man in Congress, Louis Gohmert, when he said that if I went after Texas, it was game on. Or words to that effect. And I totally get what he meant – even if “identity” might have been the wrong choice of words, because I personally couldn’t identify with a society that gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Indiana pizza bigots, but at the same time remains silent, when another dumbass Republican thinks poor people shouldn’t be allowed the occasional steak. Still, I’d be pissed if I had some damn foreigner constantly pointing out just how messed up my country is.
So, for once let me cast my jaundiced eye onto my own homeland, which while certainly as fucked up (but thankfully more in a “incompetent, corrupt, popurlarist politics” kind of way, rather than a “I really need to ostracize people I don’t like, and control women’s reproductive rights, because my invisible friend says so politics” kind of way) as any country, probably wouldn’t garner as much interest from you, Dear Reader. After all, if twelve times as many Kenyan students as French cartoonists can be massacred with the world barely blinking, why should they care about the musings of somebody tucked away at the bottom of the Dark Continent?
So, just how messed up is South Africa? Well, without going into a whole bunch of history (which would probably fill up several blogs on its own, and that’s even before we get to the fact our current President has had more wives than school grades he’s passed, and his most vocal opponent in Parliament, Julius Malema’s highest mark in his senior year was a C for English (second language) and the others consisted of Ds, Es, Fs and most memorably an H for History and a GG for Woodwork. Seriously – being able to hammer a nail into a board should at least earn you an F…) let me look at two prime examples from a recent notorious day’s news. Yes, April Fool’s Day – that day where we’ve all learned to look askance at what the news papers publish as headlines and laugh it off.
Unless they’re real.
Take the first example:
Oh, ha! Ha! Good one! Not quite as good as the ‘Table Mountain ordered to change its name, because the name was trademarked in the US” story of a few years ago, but as far as fake headlines go, not bad.
Until, a little voice in your head starts going “Hey! Remember the 3-month strike the Post Office just had. And the 6-month go-slow before that? And how they were begging for more money from the government?” and then you remember a headline from the end of March: “Post Office delays paying staff, suppliers.” But still you think, as the noon deadline for calling off the jokes (and remember that bit, it’ll come up later) rolls past, “Nah, it MUST be a joke, right? Right?!”
Admittedly, SAA’s timing was either brilliant, or highly unfortunate, but April 2nd rolled around, and we were greeted by a very huffy Post Office:
The SA Post Office (Sapo) said the suspension of its account by the South African Airways (SAA) was grossly unfair on Thursday.
Sapo said that the “genuine reasons” behind the action of suspension were not shared with the public, leaving the SA Post Office “gravely exposed”.
The SAA said on Wednesday that it suspended the account “after it became clear that payment by the SA Post Office had been outstanding for quite a while now”.
“We sadly have reached a point where we have run out of options, but to suspend the SA Post Office’s account,” said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali.
It’s one of those articles no right-thinking – no, wait let me rephrase that – anything “right” is counter-revolutionary at the moment – clear-thinking South African can’t read, without face-palming at least once and thinking “What else can they fuck up?”
Well, as the second part shows, they can fuck up April Fool’s jokes. The Presidency itself got in on the act, with the announcement of three new Cabinet ministers – Charles Nqakula had been appointed Minister of Roads and Traffic, Essop Pahad Minister in the presidency responsible for public participation and interface; and Zizi Kodwa Deputy Minister for Social Cohesion and Nation Building. Now, I don’t expect the names to mean anything to you – but suffice to say that under Pres Zuma (who let’s not forget managed to get the taxpayer to spend some $20 millions on his private residence, then had his ministerial “investigation” team explain away such items as a swimming pool as a “fire pool” to provide easy access to water, in case the thatch caught fire. Again, no, really) our Cabinet has swelled from 28 ministers under Mandela to 35 under Zuma, all with deputy-ministers, of course, the appointment of three more somewhat shady names to his Cabinet, really came as no surprise.
Especially – and here’s the important part – when the announcement was made at 12:45pm on April 1st, well after the traditional cut-off time for this sort of thing. It was also confirmed by Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj – who really does have the credentials to be Zuma’s mouthpiece, given that he left the Firstrand Group as it’s highest paid director, after a long “leave of absence” and under a cloud of suspicion over claims of bribery and corruption, and was involved in the shameful Bulelani Ngcuka “apartheid spy” debacle – and whom I personally trust about as much as a sackful of rattlesnakes on acid.
Yes, the media was fooled – because you don’t make April Fool’s jokes after noon, and you certainly don’t wheel out the Presidential spokesman to confirm that’s it’s true. Especially not in a climate where everybody expects Zuma to do something bizarre, usually to repay a crony who’s had to cover up for him in the past. Which is precisely why Shabir Shaik has been at home, waiting to die for 2,225 days since being released on “medical parole” after being convicted of being in a corrupt relationship with Zuma. Basically, our government is as good at April Fool’s jokes, as they are with accountability.
So, yes, South Africa is just as fucked up as any other country, in our own strange and unique ways. But at least we don’t have politicians saying the poor shouldn’t be allowed to eat steak.