South Africa

South Africa

SA politics: Stupid is as stupid does

SA politics: Stupid is as stupid does

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) is “combat ready”. In a statement, the ANCYL said: “We are combat ready to defend our (the ANC) leadership at night and during the day”. The round-the-clock combatants also condemned “the violent terrorist attacks that are taking place in Isis”. Is the Islamic State under attack from other terrorists? Meanwhile transport union Satawu wants to “crush” the “enemies of the people of South Africa”? Who are these enemies? SAA pilots. And President Jacob Zuma thinks Jan van Riebeeck was “a little bit naughty”. No it’s not the onset of the silly season. This is just South African politics – merrily disconnected from the silly thing called reality. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

The ANCYL wanted to join global condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Well, in their inimitable way. Firstly they spelt their own name wrong. “The Afican National Congress Youth League condemns in strong terms the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France,” the media statement began. They went on to condemn the “selective reaction and mourning of human life” in light of attacks in other parts of the world.

You would think the ANCYL might be talking about the terror attacks in Lebanon and the bombing of the Russian jet over the Sinai desert. Turns out they are worried about either an ANC-style factional battle in the Islamic State or some other hate-driven terrorist organisation attacking the most feared terror group in the world. Or the ANCYL is actually backing ISIS, and worried about the bombing raids against them. Or they think ISIS is a place, not a terror group. Difficult to say: “Whilst we condemn what is happening in Paris we equally condemn in strongest terms the violent terrorist attacks that are taking place in Isis”.

And that’s not even the most bizarre part of the statement. “We call upon the BRISA to offer the necessary support to put to halt the situation there.” What in the world is “BRISA”? And who is it supposed to support to stop the situation where? BRICS maybe? Could it be that the ANCYL redefined BRICS, eliminated China from the partnership and added some other country starting with the letter “A”? Algeria? Afghanistan? Australia? Augmentalia?

What did China ever do to the ANCYL though? Perhaps it’s the strong links with the South African Communist Party (SACP) that infuriated the young guns? Because the ANCYL and the SACP are certainly not the best of chums at the moment.

Mercifully, the ANCYL did not share any more of their interesting views on world affairs and focused instead on domestic affairs. They are concerned about the situation in KwaZulu-Natal where supporters of the Premier Senzo Mchunu have taken to the streets to protest the outcome of the ANC provincial conference that voted him out as the ANC chairperson.

“We call on him (Mchunu) to take proactive measures in ensuring that he discourages all those that are engaged in mass protest using his name. For if he does not do this it might create or affirm the impression that they do this sent and instructed by him. We want to encourage all those that are dissatisfied about the outcome of the KZN ANC Conference to continue to write letters to relavent [sic] structures and await the response.” (Hopefully those writing the letters will have better grammar and spelling than the ANCYL.)

And the reason for them sharing this sage advice? “We say this for we will inherit the ANC and we do not want to inherit an organization that is amassed with problems beyond reproach [sic]”.

And then to the main source of the ANCYL’s ire: the SACP and its youth wing the Young Communist League (YCL). “We call on them (the SACP and YCL) to stop saying that they are tired of defending the President of the ANC on Nkandla and on the 4 billion jet which has not been bought by the state. We the ANCYL are capable of defending our own leadership. We have never outsourced that responsibility and we will never do so. We are combat ready to defend our leadership at night and during the day. We have never invited anyone to defend the leadership of the ANC.”

And there’s more: “We request that the leadership of the SACP stops saying the President of the ANC is this ‘men’. We as the youth of the ANC do not take kind to such remarks.”

And more: “We call on the YCL leadership to stop saying the Chairperson of the Premier League stays in Nkandla for the insulation of such remarks will not allow us to keep quite [sic].

Although the ANCYL statement was hands down the wackiest of the week, it had some competition. The embattled transport union Satawu, which after battling a series of internal fights and scandals, found its voice again to rage against pilots. The Cosatu affiliate is rallying support behind South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni in her battle with the airline’s pilots. (The pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of a vote of no confidence in Myeni and her board.)

Satawu believes SAA’s woes is not because of Myeni’s ruinous reign at SAA but because of a white supremacy agenda at the airline. “As a union that organises workers in the sector, Satawu views this move as nothing but a ploy by white pilots to perpetuate white supremacy at the national carrier.” Satawu wants the pilots to be “crushed” (we really hope they do not mean mid-flight) and called them “enemies of the people of South Africa”.

While the union makes valid points about the lack of transformation in the sector (out of the total 800 pilots that fly for SAA, only 39 are black) and the privileges the pilots enjoy (white pilots’ children are apparently allowed into the cockpit when they accompany their parents on trips), Satawu’s remedy is somewhat foolhardy. “If they are so skilled, why don’t the find work elsewhere?” Satawu asked.

There is of course the small matter of SAA having to find 800 pilots should there be a mass walkout. But Satawu does not seem to think flying an aircraft is that much of a skill. “The pilots must be recognised for what they are – mere drivers who want to continue enjoying the same privileges they did under the apartheid government.” Considering that “mere drivers” make up a large portion of Satawu’s membership, it’s no wonder the union has had so much internal turbulence.

Apart from taking the time to explain how much he “hearts” the ANC, President Jacob Zuma also submitted an affidavit to the Constitutional Court on the Nkandla matter. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance have asked the court to decide on Zuma’s alleged non-compliance with the Public Protector’s report, which recommended that he pay back a portion of the costs for non security upgrades.

But Zuma said in his affidavit that he had already implemented the remedial action recommended by Thuli Madonsela. “I have indicated that I have at all times been committed to making a reasonable contribution to any upgrades which are found not to be security-related and which will benefit my estate unduly. This, and nothing more, is precisely what the report requires.”

But has Zuma not said repeatedly that he will not pay for upgrades he did not ask for? And in Parliament, Zuma said: “Never have I thought of paying back the money. I will not be paying back the money without the determination of those authorised by the Public Protector.”

Zuma learnt on Tuesday that the things he says have a way of biting him back. During a joint media briefing with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a journalist from the Netherlands asked Zuma about his comments about Jan van Riebeeck starting all the trouble in South Africa. The journalist asked whether the remarks about Van Riebeeck meant Rutte was also responsible for South Africa’s problems.

Zuma laughed raucously while the embarrassed Rutte waved his hand at the journalist saying “No no no!” Zuma said he did not mean the Netherlands should take responsibility. But in a rambling answer, he also pointed out that the architect of apartheid Hendrik Verwoerd was also born in the Netherlands. But the Dutch government could not be blamed for his wrongdoings either, Zuma said.

And to cement good relations, Zuma added that he had been told that where Van Riebeeck had come from, he was also considered to be “a little bit naughty”. Trust our president to make a marauding colonialist sound like a peeping tom.

At least we can be assured that silliness is spread across the political spectrum. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has tangled himself into a neat little knot over his party’s response to the Stellenbosch language policy debacle. Maimane has tripped over himself trying to defend Afrikaans as the main language of instruction at the university, as a result alienating himself from the student struggle for a more inclusive language policy. So instead of being the DA’s great black hope, he has exposed himself as a black frontman defending white minority privilege.

The EFF, meanwhile, continues to do what it does best – getting itself kicked out of Parliament for being juvenile and ill-disciplined. The party’s national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was instructed to leave the House on Tuesday after refusing to withdraw calling DA MP Dean Macpherson a “white boy”.

The presiding officer Thoko Didiza instructed the sergeant at arms to remove Ndlozi from the chamber but this being the world of slapstick politics, the sergeant at arms was still on strike along with other parliamentary workers.

In a new world defined by violence and fear, South Africa seems to be rotating on its own axis. Perhaps it helps us escape the terror of the rest of the world to be indulged by non-stop idiocy – Made in SA. But the stupidity in politics is no laughing matter in a crisis-prone country. We do not need murderous enemies to destroy what we have; we’re doing it all on our own. DM

Photo: Forgive us, Mr Gump.


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options