Behold, the end of the world is nigh! The barbarians have breached the gates! Extremists are redrawing maps without the superpowers! Journalists’ heads are rolling — and not only at Independent Newspapers! Jihadists now speak with English accents! Oh, and Juju’s in the house. And he’s not playing nice. Civilisation as we know it is behind on the scoreboard; it can see the stadium clock, and it’s battling against the final whistle! (And metaphors are mixing more than the races in Cape Town!)
This sense of impending doom, fostered by social media anxiety disorder (Smad), reminds me of my Sub A — Grade 1 for the born-frees who haven’t given up reading this yet — 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 causing mass hysteria among other animals like Cockey Lockey and Goosey Loosey, breathlessly telling them that the sky had collapsed like a pyramid car-purchasing scheme. But sly Foxy Loxy somehow manipulates this over-the-top response to his advantage, and, before you can say “lemon and herb”, has 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 ANC’s next episode of its “Rooi Overall Gevaar” soap opera. It’s only a matter of time before the parliamentary channel is open to advertisers who will get more than four bangs (with a cricket bat) for their buck than at the Oscar channel. Perhaps this could be a more transparent way of funding our political parties at election time; the more advertising revenue a party generates through its performance, the more it gets to make promises to the people.
Our liberation-movement-cum-ruling-party-cum-liberation movement 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, 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? The ones where MPs elected to serve the people parade their made-in-China fashions — barely covering their f*ck-the-poor T-shirts? As a metaphor for who Parliament really works, Nathi Mthethwa, the minister of arts and culture initiated a meeting to discuss the reinstatement of the fired bling Generations actors, who, according to City Press, earn a paltry R40 000 to R80 000 a month. This places them in our country’s top 20% who earn 70% of the national income. But in his previous incarnation as minister of police, Mthethwa sent in his police to end the strike by “criminals” demanding the astronomical sum of R12 500 a month. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you … the “Parliament of the people”.
What “respect for Parliament as an institution” is Mbete talking about? The kind that she shows in her double act as national chairperson of the ANC and speaker of Parliament. Is this not stifling debate and confusing the interests of the party with those of our country? Where real criminals who should be held accountable are let off the hook? With the heaviest of hands, she calls in the police to remove EFF members who refuse to participate on the terms she sets, and then demands that they tell her why they should not be suspended. Yet MPs who defrauded Parliament with their falsified travel claims, are allowed to continue in Parliament, even as Cabinet ministers! 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, berating the police who were reluctant to shed EFF blood in parliament, because, Mantashe believes, they were under the influence of the DA. 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 drones on about the EFF making 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 (at least they got their promised piece of land — six feet under!). And surely she couldn’t be speaking about the dignity of millions of “our people” with their heads still well below the poverty line or who suffer the indignities of unemployment or who are crammed into soulless, bland RDP houses, which cost far less than Nkandla’s chicken run?
How are we supposed to take seriously the ANC’s “Cry Wolfy Dolfy” concerns about the EFF’s disrespect for our democratic institutions when Parliament itself and the constitutional mechanisms established to deliver and protect our democracy have been hollowed out through the unrelenting assaults on these by the ruling party?
But such is the doublespeak of the ANC that one of its spokespersons suggests that should the EFF contravene the conventions of the House again, the ANC may not be able to restrain its members (or the rent-a-thugs they bus into the parliamentary gallery?). Like the ironically honourable Brutus, these brutes bestow upon themselves — like an unearned doctorate — the colonial mantle of “honourable”, while threatening violence and viciously stabbing our nascent democracy in its back.
Ebola wreaks its havoc in West Africa, labola wreaks its havoc on the presidential budget, and Julius, for not rendering to Caesar, survives 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 that has delivered very-nicely-thank-you-very-much on the German sedan motorcades, the Italian suits and the Scottish drink.
But it is to Europe that many look to caricature and point to the dangers of the EFF, in fact, to no less than the Nazis! I wonder what that spectre is supposed to conjure up in us? Fear of gas chambers? Of 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 for the majority of people, how much worse can it actually be? 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 and a computer mouse who prematurely sent off hundreds of thousands of poor people to a virginless afterlife?
Opportunistically, the ANC has made the recent parliamentary standoff about the EFF, casting itself in the role of defender of our democracy, when in fact the fundamental issue is about the investigation into corrupt expenditure of state resources on the personal home of the president. But more than that, the EFF is highlighting what those most enjoying the benefits of incumbency refuse to hear, “it’s the system, stupid!”, thereby exposing the Faustian pact of a political kingdom for the ruling party in exchange for perpetuating an economic structure that continues to benefit a few.
And so, herewith the next cycle of beating off and beating up the symptoms — rather than dealing with the core issues — of social injustice and inequality.
If the end of our world is nigh, it’s not because of the EFF.