Adam Haupt
Adam Haupt

A state of emergency?

There was a time when journalists knew not to ask too many questions. A time when they knew not to dig too deep. There was a time when they had a healthy respect for authority and knew their place.

The Mail & Guardian‘s leak of the Nkandla report marks that moment when the journalistic profession is once again crossing the line, offering clever arguments about the public interest and accountability to civil society. Journalists from this irresponsible rag are not just putting No. 1 at risk, they are making a mockery of our security state. Was it not enough that City Press humiliated No. 1 by publishing that shameful painting of his exposed manhood? Luckily, its editor came to her senses and she reneged on her counter-revolutionary editorial approach.

What are we to make of these times when sensational, liberal media are seeking to undermine internal security? Are they forcing us into a state of emergency? Will they force us into bringing the full might of the law upon them? What is to be done?

Fortunately, there are a few things that we know about the educated, middle classes who read these rags’ drivel. We know that the middle classes and the aspiring middle classes are bound to be outraged when they read these latest shocking and undoubtedly untrue allegations against our democratically elected president, who has the full trust of the masses. We have no doubt that many of them will seek catharsis by letting loose a few racial epithets on comment threads and on Facebook. But we also know that they are very busy retweeting the antics of Miley Cyrus, that they are glued to the twists and turns on Idols or Breaking Bad, that they are very busy in the malls of Sandton, Rosebank and Century City.

The middle classes and aspiring middle classes are much too busy taking comfort from the consumer culture that the ruling party has crafted to perfection with its economic policies that place a high premium on economic growth. There lies their hypocrisy: they will complain about No.1 and his allies, but they do not complain about their middle class comforts. Their grumbling will amount to no more than grumbling.

I bet that many of them have not even downloaded AmaB’s cache of Nkandla documents, that they have not bothered to read the detail of the alleged abuses being reported upon. Perhaps they will wait eagerly for the Hollywood version, starring Thandie Newton as the Public Protector and Denzel Washington as No. 1 – Denzel no doubt reprising his role in Training Day.

They certainly will not join the landless citizens of Abahlali baseMjondolo in public protests against alleged abuses of the state and they certainly will not be joining residents of Bekkersdal in service delivery protests anytime soon. In short, civil society is divided along class lines.

The “informed”, “educated” middle classes are not about to set off a revolution anytime soon… or will they?

Crisis? What crisis?

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    • aim for the culprits

      too true. the reality that some b…ankers in parts of the formal protected economy suck in far more than their talents deserve is a far bigger undocumented THEFT from everyday working people. there is a part of society that earns more during an 18 hole wander, than others earn in a year working in a mine. do the numbers.

    • Momma Cyndi

      What a marvelous piece of sarcasm 😎

    • Anarky on Roads

      How delightfully tongue in cheek.

    • Adam
    • aim for the culprits

      Satire and irony in combination works well. Impeach him by all means, he seems to be abusing his position and slurping gravy not meant for him. However, everyone of you that dodges tax or helps others do it in some clever “legal” but against the spirit of law “golf club” way is a THIEF.

      I remember the story of someone having the courage to point out that his friends were THIEVES themselves at a dinner party.

      All chairmans of this and that company or golf club whining about government corruption. The gist of it: if you are stealing government money before or after it reaches the government coffers, you are a THIEF.

    • aim for the culprits

      ..further to the above comment. I bet you most middle and upper class people know of friends or family that are evading tax. I bet they don’t dob them it, maybe they even exchange anecdotes. Yet these same people are indignant about the closed shop that exists in government, Again, you and those in government doing this are all THIEVES or actively or passively aid THIEVES.

    • Adam

      Certainly, corporate corruption and our neoliberal economic system that structures the kinds of socioeconomic inequalities that SA’s poor citizens have to negotiate on a daily basis are key parts of the problem. The everyday violence of poverty and inequality is systemic. SA needs needs to adopt social democratic policies, whilst also taking a critical look at governance and accountability in government and the corporate sector.

    • Skumbuzo

      @ aim for the culprits…….you are so right……sadly, we are a society in moral decline……from greedy businessmen, to greedy politicions……we hero worship all the wrong people.

    • Brianb

      The voters get what they vote for.
      How refreshing will it be when one fine day there will be a viable opposition capable of gaining power?
      The National Party reigned from 1948 to 1994 .They sustained power through voters fear of losing white privilege.
      The ANC have reigned since 1994. They are sustaining power on the strength that they removed apartheid.
      Neither regime has guided the country to its full potential because they have been largely unchallenged .

    • Momma Cyndi

      aim for the culprits,

      Have you ever wondered why the most corrupt governments have the most corrupt citizens? Whilst people in Switzerland will use every legal means to keep their (very high) taxes to the minimum, they won’t actively try to circumvent the law. Could it possibly be because they do not resent their tax money being used to build mansions for the president?

      Fact is that we get VERY little for our tax contribution in SA. You pay the government and then you pay a private provider to provide the services that your government doesn’t provide. It is with a very heavy heart that I give my contribution to the waBenzi brigade so they can spend all their time on overseas spending trips whilst I fix my old jallopy and forego holidays so that I can afford to pay for all the things that our government is supposed to be providing but don’t.

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    • Mr. Direct

      @Momma Cyndi

      Switzerland is known as a tax haven in Europe because their tax is significantly lower than EU member states. Their social administration is very good hence their tax controls are effective and tax collection percentages are high.

      Switzerland would most likely never ended up with an Nkandla due to the ability of citizenry to petition national votes however.

      At the same time as the launch of eTolls, the Swiss public rejected an initiative to increase the motorway usage fees from CHF 40.00 (R459.00) per year to CHF 100.00 (R1148) per year. They also voted on initiatives to limit executive salaries, and an initiative to reform child benefits for non working mothers.

      This form of democracy ensures that the people have a say on the issues that really matter. Government do not need to wait for the next election to see if they have screwed up.

      Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could have cast our votes on Nkandla spend and eTolls long before the money started pouring down the drain.

    • Monwabisi Ncayiyana

      My entry point on this discussion or topic is very simple. Let me start by asking the following questions: – Are you then suggesting that Journalists must not dig too much? Are then suggesting that our newspapers must have incomplete or insufficient information? So a good journalist will be that journalist who doesn’t dig too deep?
      I see nothing wrong in a journalist who is digging all necessary information in order to put all evidence together so that the public can know what it need to know in the society. The public deserve to know everything about its country and its government to be specific. That’s why I see nothing sinister in a journalist who wants to disclose information which is hidden by government or anyone for that matter.
      However there is everything wrong for any journalist whom is using the information subjectively so or to bring down anyone or to settle scores for subjective interests. Readers need to know everything. It’s only during apartheid maybe where a journalist was not allowed to dig everything about the government then. That can’t be the case in the new democratic dispensation of South Africa.
      I’m of the view that freedom of press and freedom of expression is more important in South Africa, we if we infringe rights of others we committing suicide or reversing our democratic gains.