Opinionista Ivo Vegter 1 January 2014

New Year’s resolutions for other people

This New Year’s Day, I will sleep in. I will go to the pub to watch football instead of going for a vigorous stroll or looking up old friends. This column will miss its usual Monday night deadline. That way, I won’t have to worry about breaking any resolutions later in the year, and I can keep an eye on the resolutions I made for other people.

It’s as official as it gets: 2013 was the best year ever. The right-wing Spectator and the left-wing Think Progress both agree on this point, rating it by such diverse measures as human health, happiness, prosperity, equality, war, disease, violent crime and bigotry.

Still, as we look back on 2013, and hope for an even better 2014, there are a few things one might desire from the people that make the news. For them, I’ve written some New Year’s resolutions, in the hope that it will inspire them to greater heights. After all, it’s not like anyone cares about my own resolutions. Least of all me.

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa: I will learn to swim. After all, a million-rand fire pool needs to be used efficiently. It’s the least I can do for the taxpayers who bought it for me.

Australasian Antarctic Expedition, a group of climate researchers aboard the research vessel Shokalskiy: We won’t go on a summer-time family holiday to the Antarctic to make the “science case” that the Antarctic is melting. Ice always melts in summer, and we found weather was “equivalent to the average conditions experienced by Sir Douglas Mawson’s original expedition a century ago”. Besides, it is really, truly, deeply embarrassing when our ship gets itself trapped in pack-ice, so that while the crews of taxpayer-funded icebreakers from three separate countries risk their lives but fail to reach us, we’re reduced to doing yoga, learning Spanish, and singing songs composed on board while we wait for the helicopters.

Jay Singh, property developer: I will not build shopping centres so shoddily that they collapse on workers before they even open.

eThekwini municipality: We will stop awarding tenders to Jay Singh, even though his wife is buddies with Jacob Zuma’s wife.

Jonathan Deal, CEO of the Treasure the Karoo Action Group: I’ll give up the lost anti-fracking cause, and won’t launch a futile legal battle that will cost the taxpayer millions, merely on the claim that there wasn’t sufficient consultation. After all, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance lost a similar case involving far less consultation over a project that affected far more people. Also, I’ll stop lying to try to discredit my critics, and promoting the dishonest film Gasland after denying in public debates that I rely on its propaganda.

Dina Pule, former minister of communications: I won’t put Christian Louboutin on my wish list, since sponsors no longer pick up the tab for my boyfriend’s gifts.

The Democratic Alliance, the official opposition: We’ll stop promising to be better at implementing ANC policy than the ANC. Being better at running a big-government welfare state, complete with its petty-fascist bureaucratic rules, is not “opposition”.

Oscar Pistorius, former paralympic athlete: If the bathroom seems occupied, I will politely knock on the door, instead of shooting it full of holes.

Hilton Botha, former lead investigating officer on the Pistorius case: I will not confuse a homeopathic concoction for banned performance-enhancing drugs that lead to “roid rage”, and won’t let photos leak that could compromise the case for the prosecution.

Al Gore, Nobel Peace Laureate: I won’t make alarming weather forecasts in respectable forums such as my 2007 Nobel Lecture. In particular, I will refrain from repeating claims such as that Arctic sea ice might disappear in as little as seven years. After all, we’re six years in, and 2013’s minimum sea ice extent was 20% higher than that of 2007.

Robin Carlisle, Western Cape MEC for Transport: I’ll start caring about whether my actions are legal or illegal, and instruct police officers to do the same. Also, I will resign, for having failed to care in the past.

Melissa Bachman, big game hunter: I will stop bragging about entirely legal trophy hunts while female.

Peak Oil Alarmists: We will stop predicting a “peak oil” disaster. Most predictions – including those by oil companies themselves – have been disproven by the passage of time, and 2013 saw the biggest oil boom ever in the United States, without even counting natural gas. Moreover, when critics argue that the price mechanism will avert any future scarcity crisis, by modulating supply and demand for oil and making alternative sources of energy more viable if required, we won’t use rising prices as evidence that the crisis really did happen.

Red Rob Davies, the minister for trade and industry: I won’t try to limit trade and industry to only government-approved firms that jump through government-imposed hoops enforced by government-sanctioned goons. Also, I will resign, for the good of the country.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, and Jérôme Valcke, FIFA secretary-general: We will bring the gift of football to the poor people of Brazil, at their expense. After all, brown people wouldn’t know what to do with a ball if it weren’t for the our benevolence.

Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters: I will read The Road to Serfdom, and will stop confusing economic freedom with its consequence, prosperity.

Dennis Wilson, founder of Lululemon: I will not blame the dodgy quality of my expensive line of yoga pants on womens’ fat thighs, nor address a conference on sustainable local economies on the virtues of child labour and 16-hour days.

South African National Roads Agency Limited: We will not give Johannesburg yet another massive billing crisis to worry about, nor enrich foreign contractors by installing an entirely unnecessary and inefficient road tolling system that has failed elsewhere.

Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto: I will not smoke crack cocaine. On video. You’d think that’s pretty obvious, but apparently it is “no reason to resign”.

National Security Agency of the United States: We will not behave like organised criminals and despotic police states by installing viruses on people’s computers.

Donald Trump, US billionaire: I will not tweet about South Africa, and leave the booing up to outraged South Africans.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, the schizophrenic ex-convict sign language interpreter: As a “great fake”, I will intensify my effort to “expose what is going on in the government and system”. That, after all, is a worthy, almost journalistic, mission.

And with that, at the end of the best year ever, I wish you all an even better 2014. I truly enjoy and appreciate the debates among, arguments with, and camaraderie of my regular readers, and look forward to many more.

If you can think of any great New Year’s resolutions – for other people, of course – please add them in the comments below. DM


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