Ken Owen once told me that “South Africans exist in the suspended penultimate”. We wait, expecting heaven and hell, simultaneously. Collective patriotic schizophrenia is our journey and our Oprah-esque destination. It’s what makes us championship drunks, poets and depressives.
I adore my citizenship: I am predisposed to lecturing anyone who will listen about the wonders of our Constitution, the resilience of our people, the awesomeness of our heroes and victories. But like all whose blood flows green, I am also here for the self-loathing, the gleaming chip on the shoulder and – what became under Zuma – a preening and reflexive cynicism.
Asked what his greatest fear was, the Irish novelist and polemicist Colm Toibin replied: “That Ireland will eat me.” Is this the lot for those who are born to, or who love, complicated, divided and intractably complicated countries?
Today, Mzansi, you can eat me. Like a Chippa Masinga goal, our new day pierces the heart; it demands that we shout and sing. This St Valentine’s day, South Africa triumphed against uBaba and his forces of darkness. We showed the world, again, that this is how we do it; and we did it without – and in spite of – them all.
South Africans have a way of showcasing inclusive victories. This time the journos got out front; civil society, activists, artists, workers and voters made the information actionable. There are many seats at this particular table of victory.
On Thursday, we got a new president and another new dawn. But at what cost?
The sun will rise on a moribund and hollowed-out economy, seemingly intractable unemployment, sickening inequality, flailing infrastructure and a litany of daily indignities visited on too many people who deserve and expect better.
Our journey has, again, incurred a body count. Good people have been killed, vulnerable people have died through government incompetence, a star was snuffed out callously and deliberately, and the struggle for sustainable livelihoods and human dignity accrued new martyrs. Institutions, procedures, people and prejudices have been abused, exploited, paraded and discarded with the changing political breeze.
Albie Sachs used to say in the early 2000s that South Africa was a “wonderful-terrible” country. With our more recent penchant for xenophobia, abuses of power and deepening corruption, we have leaned heavily on our more dubious shadows.
We will rock our latest sugar high with our latest sugar daddy and, in the coming days, South Africa will eat us. But let’s try to stop that the day after tomorrow. DM
Photo: Former President Jacob Zuma (Sapa)
Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!
No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.
Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.
It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.
But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.
So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.
"Whatever the cost of our libraries the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." ~ Walter Cronkite