Yesterday I finally understood ever grumpy husband who was taken out by his wife when ‘The Game’ was on.
SONA for me was ‘The Game’ and through a complete lack of planning on my part I had made plans with my partner to attend an art event. There was much dancing involved.
I had managed to catch the beginning of the proceedings and thus spent the evening wondering what ‘the score’ was. The Twitter App on my confiscated phone was so far.
The end of the performance signalled my freedom to return to the SONA proceedings only for me to find the President Zuma “speech mode”, speaking so slowly that time and space had to bend around his words. This essentially meant I had not missed much since the altercations.
By sheer luck of the gods catching the expulsions of the EFF and the subsequent DA contentions I had managed to catch the real highlights, the real State of the Nation.
The disruptions that came at the beginning of #SONA2015 were nothing short of magnificent.
Very little would have been out of place in a good Spanish soap opera. There was police, cellphone jamming and a tussle or two. All that was needed was for someone to burst into the chambers and scream into the general vicinity ‘the baby is yours!’ and throw (extremely sparse) water at the nearest MP.
The continued escalation reminded me of the times when hip hop was my genre of choice with several of my favourite lyrics coming to mind, such as “ring the alarm (and I’m throwing elbows)”, “whoop ass let security carry them out”, and “this club is our club so we will stand on the couch if we want to!”
The EFF said there was going to be a disruption and boy did they deliver.
The nation was not disappointed. Not even Mbete, who reminded most of us of the time when our mother would say “I will not tell you again” could cause them to settle down.
Eventually they were thrown out and the nation (and the world) caught another glimpse at Africa’s most promising democracy in action. Videos emerged of EFF MPs being given medical attention as well as promises of next time “being armed”.
Now much as we all enjoyed some relief from the tedious nature of SONA and Zuma reading information he has never seen before, the question still stood, did the actions of the EFF further democracy or cause it to simply sink further into disarray?
Are the EFF and others who disrupt Parliament providing a cure for the decay within the institution or simply adding to the rot? The shaky institution that is Parliament took another shock to the system and one must begin to wonder how many more it can take.
The expulsion of the EFF members seems like a mixed bag, being both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand one must laud the fact that they are calling into question the way in which parliamentary processes are possibly being abused and manipulated.
The point of the opposition is to act as a check and balance to the majority, keeping it in check, rattling them out of complacency and reminding them that “their arguments are rubbish and their hat is bread”.
There are many ways in which the EFF does this well. Historians will speak of how they shook the dust off of a stalled filthy democracy.
But at what point does it stop being a means of subversion and just become a means of being silly, taking away from general issues? The problem with the constant eviction of the EFF, other than reminding one of a raucous night out, is that Parliament as institution suffers as well. It becomes unable to deal with little else other than processing the overtime of parliamentary security.
It is not only the ANC that is ground to a halt when these instances occur but all workings of parliament and thus all workings of the nation. One has to wonder how many more knocks this old car can take before it completely breaks down on us.
If this does eventually happen what is the contingency plan? Does the EFF, DA and opposition party have some form a plan Post Parliamentary-Apocalypse? Or will anarchy become the order of the day and we all storm St Johns street and grab some podiums, paintings and possibly the bust of Mandela for the Madiba-affecionados?
What is the plan after all the shouting is done? After the last policeman has evicted the last MP? After the DA have dry cleaned those deliciously dark suits they wore?
What happens then?
There is a need to make sure that there is a plan to fix the cracks and replace the because (once the cellphone signal were un-jammed) this revolution will be televised. Possibly this is a great deal to ask of an opposition party, especially one as new as the EFF, however this is often the problem with disrupting the system in the name of change, people find that they did not really have a plan after all is said and done.
They have just vague dreams, hopes and notions for change.
At the moment we are reaching a point where people are watching the State of the Nation as much to see if there will be tom foolery as they are to find out what state the Nation is in. Not only is the Parliament physically taking strain in terms of its processes and heavy police boots stomping the carpet, but socially as well as it increasingly become a laughing stock.
We should not be watching our leaders for comic relief.
Nickolaus Bauer on twitter said:
Nobody won [tonight]. No moral high ground. No pyrrhic victory. Only sever losses. Savage blows. To democracy and constitutionality.
Much as the EFF (and possibly to some extent the DA) should be lauded for calling out dodgy Parliamentary processes going continuously to ruckus is worrying. Is this the future modus operandi of the governing institution much as the idea of brute force became the M.O for the ANC ruling party?
One has to hope not.
There needs to be a plan after the dust settles to ensure that the institution survives and we do not destroy it whilst attempting to remove the rot from the rafters.