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Okay, hands up anyone who’s being inspired by Cope?

During my three-month hiatus from blogging, I received hundreds of emails from readers. This is the summary of what you had to say:

1. If you don’t update the Silwane Files soon, I will have no choice but slit my wrists. [Just do it.]
2. I hope you are busy with your divorce because I want your babies. [Sorry, I’ve just had my tubes tied.]
3. Good riddance to Simian rubbish. [Ooh ooh, aah aah!]
4. Are you busy writing speeches for Cope? [Whatyoutalkinboutwillis?]

Writing speeches for Cope. Now, there’s an idea. I must confess that I have been approached by a few people claiming to represent Cope. I even received a text message from someone who signed it “Wendy Luhabe”, complete with banking details, asking me to donate generously towards the Sandton convention. When I sniffed at the sms, there was more than just a little whiff of bovine excrement emanating from a Hillbrow apartment building.

When I was first approached to join Cope I was a tad taken aback. Now, there’s nothing untoward about being canvassed to join a political party. Granted, I’ve never been sufficiently moved to join one before. As I’ve explained before, no political party could possibly adequately cover my ideological standpoints. I mean, I think rapists should be hanged upside down by their balls on Mary Fitzgerald Square, cocaine should be on the shelf next to Grand Pa at my local Clicks and Madame Fifi should be able to operate her brothel on Nelson Mandela Square without having to offer “free ones” to corrupt, horny members of the vice squad.

In the past, when people have approached me to join, I don’t know, the IFP (“unless you want to be ruled by Xhosas”), I have always just told them to eat my unwashed boxers and continued with my life without too much thought. But when the Copists canvassed my support I found myself getting defensive and a little irritated. It took me a while to figure out why. The way I was being approached seemed to be based on a “given” assumption that I would just naturally support Cope. And then it hit me: I have written many blogs, articles and columns expressing my admiration for former president Mbeki. And I imagine that, in some people’s one-dimensional minds:

Pro-Mbeki = Anti-Zuma = Anti-ANC = Pro-Cope

While this logic might seem watertight to some, it has more holes in it than the fence on our Zimbabwean border. But that is a discussion for another day. I guess then the question is: What do I think of Cope? My answer is simple. Yawn.

In keeping with my well-established “fence-sitter” credentials, that’s what I think of every political party in the land: yawn. I’ve made my feelings known about the ANC, which I think is a Ferrari being driven Miss Daisy-style by unimaginative drivers. I have pronounced on the riffraff that make up our opposition parties. A bunch of overrated ANC analysts, I have called them. Perhaps I will change my tune the day Zille, Holomisa, De Lille, Buthelezi or Meshoe can utter three successive sentences without saying “ANC”, I have argued.

And that is the source of my Cope yawn. The day I get excited about an opposition party is the day someone with more than just “The ANC is stuffing up” comes along. I mean, can any assertion be more “Duh”? Is it really a revolutionary revelation that the ANC hasn’t necessarily done a sterling job? Flip, even the freaking ANC acknowledges this when they are in their rare reflective moods! Okay, so we’re all in agreement about this. Excellent. So what?

This might seem like the most simplistic twaddle ever and perhaps it is. But has anyone ever really interrogated the reason we have about 70% of an electorate that says “Yeah, these people have completely stuffed up service delivery but we’ll vote them back into government?” Oh wait, we all know. The electorate is a bunch of ignorant sheep. Hey, if that scratches your sciatic nerve, by all means keep on believing it. Or maybe, if you’re a member of the opposition you could tell me the answer to this question that has been bothering me:

What are the ideological differences between the ID, the UDM, the DA or the IFP?

Look, I’ll cut the ACDP, the Africa Muslim Party and the Freedom Front Plus some slack in this regard. If you’re the type that sips on some Jesus juice or Prophet Muhammad juice or you think the Great Trek had the same significance as the Children of Israel wandering in the desert for 40 years, these are your guys. Cut and dried.

But damnit, if I vote for the UDM, what am I voting for that the ID is not offering? Look, as much as I’m a politically naïve nitwit, I know that if I searched real hard on their user-unfriendly websites, I could find some nuggets of differentiators in between the “Screw the ANC” twaddle. Excuse my Swahili, but why the fuck would I want to do that? And in my long-winded, roundabout way, that’s actually my point about Cope.

Unlike a lot of people, I wasn’t particularly excited when Lekota, Shilowa and them other ANC turncoats left. That is the curse of being a natural-born cynic. I merely shrugged and thought, “Well, this is another PAC, IFP, UDM situation. People have left the ANC before.” That doesn’t impress me much. So, the Cope lot had grievances and left. Good for them. So I waited for something more. And then I waited some more. So far, nothing. All I’m hearing are some noises about … God help us all … the ANC. I don’t know why the ANC even bothers canvassing when the opposition parties are so clearly in the grips of an unhealthy ANC obsession. I bet Zille often sits in her office, admiring her Botoxed brow, calls the president’s office at Luthuli House and breathes heavily for ten minutes.

Next, all I hear are some more noises about how the ANC has moved away from the spirit of the Freedom Charter. How the ANC is harbouring corrupt leaders. In my simple brain, that sounds a lot like Ronaldo leaving Manchester United for Chelsea citing United’s tendency to dive in the box. Diving is what footballers do. Corruption is what politicians do. Undeclared wine estates anyone? Meanwhile, back at the polling ranch, hapless voters are left with no choice but to vote nostalgically for their “liberators”. Why? Because, quite frankly I don’t think Cope is offering me anything that the other ANC analysts aren’t already offering. And they’re not moving me.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I want to be moved. I want you to capture my imagination. I want you to stand on that stage, sweat dripping from your R50 000 Prada suit like Benny Hinn on a month-end Sunday. Commission Vicky Sampson to write and perform another African Dream anthem with 200 chorists in shiny purple robes. I want you to tell me something I haven’t heard before. Don’t scare me with the prospect of an ANC Hell; give me hope of a Cope Heaven. That’s all I want. Lie to me. Give me a catchy slogan. And no, “Yes we can” is already taken. Goddamnit Obama might turn out to be a slick, smooth-talking lame duck of a president but at least he succeeded in giving his people something. The ability to see their world for what it could be instead of the depression of their current reality.

Let’s end this rant on a semantics tip. The trick here is for opposition parties to stop thinking of themselves as opposition parties but alternative parties. Otherwise then they get stuck in an opposition paradigm. One often gets the sense that sometimes they oppose the ANC even when they agree internally, just to be seen to be doing their job. I mean, what good is an opposition party that doesn’t oppose? The trick is to convince the electorate that they are alternative parties. But in order to do that, they must provide an alternative paradigm. Quite frankly, no opposition party is coming even close to doing that for me.

As for the new infant on the block, Cope, I’m personally returning an “F” report card in this regard based on their uninspiring start. Now watch how many people will descend upon me like street kids on a soup kitchen and accuse me of being an ANC apologist and how:

Lekota does not move me = Gwede moves me.

End of rant.

*Silwane disappears into a Witness Protection Programme black hole and sticks to writing about whorehouses*

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  • Ndumiso Ngcobo

    Once upon a time, Ndumiso Ngcobo used to be an intelligent, relevant man with a respectable (read: boring-as-crap) job which funded his extensive beer habit. One day he woke up and discovered that he had lost his mind, quit his well-paying job, penned a collection of hallucinations. A bunch of racist white guys published the collection just to make him look more ridiculous and called it 'Some of my best friends are white'. (Two Dogs, ISBN 978-1-92013-718-2). Nowadays he spends his days wandering the earth like Kwai Chang Caine, munching locusts, mumbling to himself like John the Baptist and searching for the meaning of life at the bottom of beer mugs. The racist publishers have reared their ugly heads again and dangled money in his face to pen yet another collection of hallucinations entitled 'Is It Coz 'm Black'. He will take cash, major credit cards and will perform a strip tease for contributions to his beer fund.