Before this whole DA vs Cosatu confrontation got all ugly, with the stone throwing and the water cannons and, most frighteningly of all, the extremely competitive singing contest, I think a lot of South Africans viewed the whole thing as one big joke.
I certainly did. The DA is not a political movement synonymous with marching. My first thought was, finally, a march for white people. And why not? From an early age, we see black people all over South Africa toyi-toying, protesting, holding placards and signs. They seem so passionate. But, short of writing letters to the Northcliff and Melville times or phoning into 702, we don’t have an outlet for our own concerns: you know, crime and potholes, stuff like that. Why can’t we take to the streets in anger too?
Strangely, that initial thought was undermined by the fact that, if the pictures and the reports are anything to go by, there were black people marching for the DA. Not just one or two, hoards of them. It was the type of scary toyi-toyi-ing throng that I imagine if directed towards Helen Zille, would be enough to make her spill her decaf latte all over her Trenery blouse.
But let’s not be cynical and ask where she rented those black people from, let’s rather take it as a sign that South Africans are finally able to look beyond race and support political parties based on their policies. It’s also a sign that we now live in a country where white people can toyi-toyi for a youth wage subsidy, and black people can drink single malt whiskey in Armani suits, and if that’s not a sign that the wounds of apartheid are healing I don’t know what is.
I’m actually quite proud of the DA for working so hard to shed their privileged reputation by getting out on the streets to march. Especially since Numsa and Cosatu do not mess around when a march is directed towards them. They will march back and march back hard. So, good on you DA. Sure, maybe you just wanted to deflect attention away from the whole Zille illegal tender story, but who really bats an eyelid when any of our top political parties get involved with illegal tenders? If we wanted to support a political party in South Africa that was totally corruption free we’d end up voting for the Dagga Party (who are probably way too high to commit any illegal acts other than getting high) or an even less credible party like the ACDP.
But I digress. This piece was meant to be about marching, and if we can take anything out of all this, it’s that marching in South Africa is for everyone. It’s truly democratic. Whether it’s the DA marching against Cosatu or Cosatu marching against the DA’s march against Cosatu or various passers-by marching because they felt left out, if you’re looking for a good march, this is a great country to live in. And if you can avoid the flying rocks, it’s a great work-out for the legs.
I know what you’re thinking: I have learned nothing. Why can’t you coherently discuss politics instead of messing around, Deep Fried Man? Isn’t your father Steven Friedman? That’s what you get, however, when you look to a musical comedian for serious political analyses. You wouldn’t expect comedy from a political analyst, would you? Unless it’s Dan Roodt. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go march about something. Please don’t throw rocks at me. DM
EPILOGUE: For your pleasure, before the march got violent and spoiled our attempts not to take it seriously, I collected some of the greatest tweets on the matter:
@SAPrezident: “I see black people at the #DAmarch We might have a close election in 2065.”
@dbbovey: “The DA march is my kind of activism. I like being active, but I don’t like big crowds.”
@SimmiAreff: “The DA march is most likely to go past a Woolworths before it goes to COSATU house”
@WarrenRComedian: “I know the DA are marching today, and that @helenzille is flying to JHB to do it, but I have no idea why. Did the SABC cancel Top Billing?”
@LazGola: “Prob wont be one… But if there was a fight between Cosatu and Da supporters…Cosatu would dominate! Can’t trump experience!”
@chestermissing “#DAMarch Basically this is just the 702 walk the talk on a Tuesday.”
Photo: A policeman keeps watch as angry COSATU supporters chant slogans during a march by the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s main opposition party, in Johannesburg May 15, 2012. A march by South Africa’s main opposition party on the headquarters of leading union federation COSATU descended into chaos on Tuesday, with police firing tear gas to disperse crowds of rock-throwing protesters. About 1,000 members of the opposition Democratic Alliance marched through downtown Johannesburg in support of a government plan to subsidize the wages of young people in a bid to ease chronic unemployment among the unskilled youth.The group was met by angry COSATU members who blocked the streets, sparking a violent confrontation that had to be broken up by police. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.
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