Monday, 14 April 2008

What's next?

When I started this blog a while back, I was hoping to keep it light-hearted and fun. A vehicle for self-expression and all that stuff. No agendas. Nothing like that. Yet living in South Africa, it is nearly impossible not to be affected by the political goings-on, both within the country and in the bordering nations. There is rarely a dull moment, and political scandals and stories of corruption regularly grace the pages.

Lately though, the Zim elections have been the centre of attention, and for good reason. After an excessively long reign, Zimbabwe may finally be freed from the clutches of its narcissistic dictator, Robert Gabriel Mugabe - or so I thought at the time of the elections. It appeared as if Bad Bob was finally being put out to pasture which, considering the atrocities he's committed, is far too kind a fate. And yet, here we are - two weeks after the elections - and still no decisive outcome.While waiting for the results to be finalised and all that, both Morgan Tsvingarai (MDC leader and official opposition to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party) and Robert Mugabe have been on the go. Tsvingarai has been meeting with African leaders in a bid to drum up support. Bob on the other hand has been flying under the radar in comparison. However, a picture of Robert Mugabe and South African president Thabo Mbeki walking hand in hand made the Sunday Times' front page, followed by a piece in which Mbeki is quoted as denying that there is a serious crisis in Zimbabwe.

'Couldn't find the pic that made the front page of the Sunday Times but I happened to find another one. It would seem Bob and Thabo regularly walk hand in hand. (And they said the romance wouldn't last...)

At what point do we (or more specifically, the government) abandon this ridiculous policy of quiet diplomacy and tackle the issue at hand? By the sounds of it, life in Zimbabwe has pretty much become unbearable. On top of the violence and underlying fear of the dictator-style government there's also the land seizures and ridiculous rate of inflation (which rose to a staggering 7,634% in July 2007). What's more, so-called 'war veterans' are once again seizing white-owned farms. These 'war veterans', however, are mostly too young to have ever fought in Zimbabwe's last war (also known as the Seond Chimurenga) which ended in 1979. The world's eyes are drawn to Zimbabwe, and by not taking a firm stand against what is happening to our neighbour, South Africa is being seen in a negative light. Especially ironic, seeing as the majority of South Africans are shocked and disgusted at what is happening in Zim. (With the exception of the crusty old Jon Qwelane. What a babbling fool.)

Hmmm... troubled times indeed.

A much less serious though equally controversial conversation hogger at the moment is the sudden sacking of popular columnist David Bullard. A regular columnist for the Sunday Times, he wrote a highly satirical piece in a which he invokes the reader to imagine a South Africa that hadn't been colonised. He paints a picture where life is simple and uncomplicated, that (to be fair) borders on patronising and backward. It's a contentious issue. A huge amount of people found the article highly offensive. And I really can see where they're coming from. Yet (playing devil's advocate here) surely as a column, it is an opinion piece. What's more, the article is satirical - and let's face it, in a society plagued (for lack of a better word) by Leon Schuster-type humour, the point of satire is almost entirely lost. And lastly, what about the editor's responsibility for what is and isn't published. Bullard's column may have been in (slightly) poor taste but while he's at home right now searching through the classifieds for a new job, his editor is sitting behind his desk in his office at the Sunday Times offices. If Bullard crossed the line with his article, the Sunday Times should never have published it. 'Doesn't seem too fair to me. At the end of the day, you don't have to like or agree with a columnist. They're not there to make you feel better about what you think. I like that they encourage thinking and debate. So much for free speech.

But hey, what can you do? No doubt Bullard will be snapped up by some other newspaper (after all, there's no such thing as bad publicity, as they say) and the troubles in Zimbabwe are likely to headline our news for quite some time to come. I guess all we can hope for is that they make it out of this period with as little violence and trauma as possible. And so it goes.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Take that, you naughty bunch!

So the other week I had a bit of a rant about this business with the FBJ holding a get-together that specifically excluded whites. It's not that I disagree with the idea of having a mutually exclusive forum, but I just felt that all things considered, and in a very South African context, excluding a specific race group from a gathering was very poor form. Especially when the guest speaker was the infamous Jacob Zuma (who is most likely already working on his inauguration speech as the country's new president. Scary.)

Anyway, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has since found the FBJ's exclusion of people on the basis of race unacceptable. Unjustified. Unconstitutional. Well, yeah... (I kinda thought that was a no-brainer.) The SAHRC have further suggested that the FBJ rethink their policies and in the meantime, behave themselves (i.e. not have any more get-togethers that exclude anyone.)

However, they haven't done much about Jon Qwelane's name-calling antics. Oh well, baby steps. (Speaking of Jon Qwelane though, what a very special person he is. I find his columns on News 24 very... moving[?]. Anyway...)

As a result, poor Abbey Makoe (chairperson of the FBJ) is a very unhappy camper. According to the Mail & Guardian (online), he's said "The FBJ hereby wishes to state that the conclusion arrived by the SAHRC represents nothing more than a judicial ambush." Shame, sounds to me like someone needs a big boy box of Gary Player tissues.

Anyway, that's just a bit of an update on that whole thing. Seeing as I'm on the whole 'state of affairs' trail, I'll wrap up with a pic someone sent me recently. What with the petrol price sky-rocketing, it's one of those pics that make you laugh... and then make you think.


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