First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
I began my so-called career in journalism on a Durban newspaper called the Daily News. Owned by the Argus company at the time, it was neither overly progressive nor conservative. It reported the news in a factual and impartial manner. Ridiculous, I know, but that’s how newspapers were back then. Editorials generally leaned slightly to the left, much like their writers did after Friday lunch at the Royal.
Journalists had to be trained and were expected to work their way up from the bottom. Very rarely, one might be rewarded with a byline. I was “Staff Reporter” for months before the subs deigned to attach my name to a story, finally proving to my parents that I did, in fact, have a job.
I know full well how the quality of the publications in that increasingly unstable stable changed after the group was bought out eight years ago, thanks to a very generous gift from the Public Investment Corporation. But the extent of the damage really hit home last week when a Daily News reporter wrote a piece that created an entirely new genre. Beyond fiction. Beyond fantasy, even. One couldn’t even pick it up, while holding one’s nose, and drop it into the bin marked “Fake News”. It needed a completely new, hitherto undiscovered bin.
Dragging the group’s record to an impressive new low, which until that moment had seemed impossible, the “reporter” billed his story as an Exclusive. Johann Rupert, who sells cigarettes and watches, ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and reformed Cape Flats gangster Trevor Manuel to get the ANC’s National Executive Committee to remove Ace Magashule from his position as secretary-general. Or else what? Good question. Or else, said the unnamed source, Rupert would stop giving money to the ANC and Cyril, who, it must be said, is not currently known to be short of cash. Also, he’d get the media to stop writing good things about the president.
I suppose it’s possible Rupert has a cousin who does a spot of freelance proofreading on, I don’t know, Die Burger, but I think he’d have a hard time getting the entire media to do his bidding. We’d have to, like, call each other and co-ordinate shit. Maybe even lay off the drinking for a day or two.
Quoth the shameless scribe: “The ANC is allegedly split along the lines of those for Rupert and those for the people of South Africa.”
It ends as hilariously as it began: “This is a developing story.” Yes, it certainly is. It’s developing a nasty, suppurating rash that won’t go away until a lot of people are in prison.
Then I read a tweet from the Manyi formerly known as Jimmy. It said, “Justice needs to be upgraded above the opinions of individual judges. It can’t be Justice because Judge so-and-so said so. It must be Justice because it meets a particular gold standard which society (not an elite few) agree on.”
That’s a brilliant idea.
Let’s do away with the legal system and replace it with the one Jack used on the island in Lord of the Flies. We can take turns being Piggy.
So here we are. Reporters are coming out as foot soldiers in the uncivil war for what little remains of the soul of the ANC, and there are calls for justice to be meted out according to the wishes of the mob (for what is society if not a mob?).
Let us go one step further and simply dispense with everything that stands between us and our Neanderthal cousins.
Students are rioting because they want free education. The solution is obvious. Scrap education. It encourages elitism and leads to capitalism. Convert universities into low-cost housing. Rip out the seats in lecture halls and put in pool tables. Pool shark skills will stand you in far better stead than a BA these days.
Clothing, will forthwith be optional. People over a certain age will have to acquire a special licence to walk around naked because, let’s face it, nobody wants to see anyone’s wilting giblets while they’re in Woolworths. Sex will be allowed in public. Okay, fine. We’re not animals. How about booths on street corners and in parks? You’d have to buy tokens.
Since we have done away with police because crime is a matter of individual interpretation and punishment is no longer regulated by people with an education, murders will be permitted on Wednesdays. One murder per person.
The Health Professions Council will be run by Ethel from her home in Fish Hoek. Medical licences will be issued in return for a bottle of gin. Two bottles of gin will get you a licence to practise surgery. And I do mean practise.
Cattle farmers will be encouraged to take up journalism and general elections will be held every three days.
I am so looking forward to the new, new, new South Africa. DM168
Ben Trovato is the author of 13 books. With a background in print and television journalism, he can often be found surfing instead of meeting deadlines.
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.
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