“Blah-blah-blah…” Is JZ taking strain?

presidentjacobzumaI was not personally present in the ‘House’. Thank goodness. But in the comfort of my own home with mercifully only a screen-sized image of the so-called ‘state of the nation address’, I was allowed ample opportunity to partake with much dismay in the scandalous proceedings  of Parliament yesterday, 9 February 2017.

Once the red and white chaos and turbulence of raucous EFF conduct and somewhat vehement security intervention had subsided on the screen and the other opposition parties had seemingly haphazardly voiced their points of order, concerns and objections or left the House in protest, the beleaguered president could commence his address more than an hour late. This was also after the speakers of the two houses had exerted themselves (pretty much in vain!) in an effort to exercise their powers and execute their duties for the sake of maintaining(?) / restoring (?) order in the House… Two stern women. But to no avail.

HE LAUGHED

And what was JZ’s first reaction when he ‘finally’ (his word) took the podium? He laughed. I would have cried. At least inwardly, which I seriously doubt he is even capable of doing. What a shame. What a shambles. I used the same word to describe the previous SONA, and I wish it were different this time.

The worst of the laughing bit is that he did it at least twice during the course of last night’s address. That hollow, nerve-grating sound that says ‘see the tear in my eye!’.

Did I want to hear what he had to say? Honestly, no. It was so much of the same old, same old. Interspersed with scarlet threads of threat upon (racial) threat. Yes! How is it in order for this individual to hammer on the black/white issue without anyone blinking an eye?! Twenty three years down the line! How much time do you need, sir? “Today we are starting a new chapter of radical social-economic transformation…” Oh my word: rewind, rewind, rewind?

I did not count how many times our president made references to race and to the measures in which – in his explicit opinion – inequality still prevailed in, among others, the business sector and the work-place… and how drastic measures were (according to him) to be put in place to rectify the situation. Oh boy. Just imagine if anyone else, from any other political or social grouping, had the audacity and took the liberty to speak so freely on sensitive issues in racially charged terms!

TIRED & LONELY?

The kitchen with unwashed dinner dishes has a strangely powerful attraction to me midway through his address. And from there, whilst performing mundane household duties, I hear this halting and monotonous drone that could/should surely not be an address  by a country’s number one citizen to his people?

The course of events inside  that Parliament building – whilst the angry tumult of the exiles continues on the streets surrounding it – sounds and appears to be like the lifeless rehearsal of a stage production doomed to failure: undramatic sentences… followed by uninspired applause. More of that. And yet more. Announcement. Applause. Repeat.

You look extremely tired, Mr President. And spent. You even appear lonely. Alone. Deserted? Abandoned?

Yet – you stay. How come? But seriously: don’t you get it? What will it take?

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trumped

It certainly is not about personalities, or about favouring the one political party in the world’s most prominent country over another; neither is it about feminism or equity; nor about a whim. It is more (however not only) about the question of whether leadership and statesmanship and integrity matter at all anymore. And perhaps even dignity and character. Have we come to a place where nothing is sacred or respectable any more? Let alone honourable?

The United States of America have earned themselves the new head of state that they deserve. Democracy has taken its course. With an unprecedented Republican twist. Yeah, sure, Donald Trump has it all. Money talks, right? There was never a slight chance that his campaign would be underfunded or shoddy. He knew from the start that his march to the White House would be victorious. (But then Hillary knew that about hers too…)

Hopefully this outcome will not be like the dog that successfully chases the car, catches it, and then…is not 100% sure of the next step.

The question is just this: If the American people were simply tired of the way things were and have been; if they were angry (as it appears they were); if they were going to use this presidential election to swing things in a new direction – then please tell me why their research and strategic planning were so lacking? Would a stuttering Moses not have better suited the role of leading the people out of the egypt of power games, corruption, deceit, decadence, etc. – than a slick, glib, arrogant billionaire who obviously occupies the throne in his own dazzling empire? Has he actually earned all this seemingly blind loyalty, and how? Through the age-old and cheapest trick in the book, namely promises?

GIFT OF THE GAB?

Look at some of his notorious quotes – only a pitiful few of the multitude:

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

“If you can’t get rich dealing with politicians, there’s something wrong with you.”

“All the women on The Apprentice flirted with me — consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

“I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

The wall will go up and Mexico will start behaving.”

Strike you as mature utterances that speak of character and finesse??

Look, in my opinion Americans were in this presidential election between a rock and a hard place. Between the devil and… another. But WHY? How did it happen?

The boundaries defining the concept of ‘leadership’ have seemingly become controversial, vague, slippery and frankly almost non-existent. ‘Leadership’ has broadened and flattened out to such a huge extent, that it probably constitutes almost anything a bunch of fools would want it to. Not to even mention statesmanship. Or, for that matter, statespersonship.

It’s like I know what I am talking about? In South Africa? Well now….

Someone had to win. And the winner was bound to be one of the two finalists, right?

It is what it is.

THE IRONY OF MISSING THE POINT

Missing the point is at best a waste of time. And opportunity. At worst it can be a helluva mess. Or even a massive disaster. As the one we are seeing unfolding in the out-of-control #feesmustfall 2016 campaign.

I like what Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance, says about the student protests that have been disturbingly dragging on for… how long now? He calmly and convincingly states, with conviction, that it is urgent for the South African government to revisit its subsidy policies regarding tertiary education in this country. THAT is the point.

If this point had been acknowledged, admitted and addressed – much, much sooner – by those responsible and accountable, there would no doubt have been much less panic and pain. The latter are sadly suffered by tens of thousands of South African students who are in dire straits for being rudely and ruthlessly disrupted from completing their academic years and preparing for end-of-year examinations. This is almost unforgivable. It is totally unacceptable.

Mr President-of-the-country – for what you are worth in this capacity: where in the world have you been?! Was it not you who sowed this unfortunate seed on our university campuses? – The one that has blossomed into the misconception that five star tertiary education can be handed out for free? Could you not speak out and admit that you simply had no idea what you were talking about? Blade Nzimande – how could you allow things to deteriorate to these barbaric levels?! Without contextualizing; offering some form of perspective; correcting the perceptions of so-called students and preventing them from escalating into warped and distorted ludicrity?

Marching on university campuses with placards bearing appropriate slogans is probably not the worst kind of awareness campaign. This country-wide demonstration could most likely have had its desired effect if conducted and concluded in a powerful but dignified burst of orchestrated protest. The message was undoubtedly heard and elevated to the next appropriate levels of authority (it was, was it not?); but was there any indication that it had been noted? Hello? Was anybody home?

DESTRUCTION & DEVASTATION

But, no: instead of a swift and orderly response to a pretty obvious issue, blind eyes have been turned and rampantly raging students(?? really??) have been left to destroy and devastate. Irreparably. For whose account? Presumably and actually most certainly not theirs…

A review of government subsidies for tertiary institutions is long overdue. Drastic increases are a glaring need. Is it so hard to make the connection between the overwhelming multitude of aspiring students jostling for a place in the race and the drastic financial implications all round? More than 22 years downstream from the start of our democratic voyage: did no-one at the helm foresee that capacities would have to increase by leaps and bounds, and that the handful of available institutions would have to be drastically empowered to meet the swelling demands?

On the one hand we have the emerging generation – surging towards the stars; and on the other hand we have the apparently clueless political authorities who have seemingly long forgotten how to apply their political will. Assuming there is one.

Just a random thought to ponder: it would be interesting to establish both the quality and quantity of ‘true student fibre’ among the rampaging mobs. Perhaps someone should hasten to remind our boisterously demanding youth that it has never been a ‘right for all without reserve’ to enroll as a post-matric student for a university degree. As far as I know and can recall, there have always been requirements.

Granted – if and when these are met, the way forward should be paved and open, for each and every qualifier. And only THEN should financial constraints NOT be stumbling blocks.

Far from the Fire Pools

20150519_203619_resizedThe surface of the street where I live is shiny with the traces of this morning’s frequent and intense showers after days of fierce and angry gales. The ocean is tired of dancing to their tunes and heaves in heavy swells of grey – beneath a sullen sky in all those fifty fluffy shades.

The date is significant.

The music of the Reflection and Meditation CD from the Reader’s Digest album The World’s Favourite Classics is so perfect for the moment. I float with it. Soar. Maybe not altogether lightheartedly; however temporarily and willingly detached from the shackles of earthly realities.

I lean over to be able to see the mountain and notice with a quiet gladness that there is a splattering of sun on the slopes where my mother’s ashes lie strewn. Where we scattered them some months after her death exactly twenty years ago. I marvel at the brevity of time; yet also its vastness. A sense of timelessness envelopes me and reminds me of the words found in the 55th chapter of the Bible book written by the prophet Isaiah – in verses 8 and 9: “My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.”

ARROGANT EGOISTS

My mother has been spared a great deal of earthly toil and turmoil. As much as I would enjoy taking her on a walk down memory lanes of the past two decades, I am also relieved that she is not exposed to the ridiculousness and the nadir of a government flailing about in disregard of all decency, morality, nobility and righteousness.

She has not needed to learn daily with a heavy heart of the escalating crime and corruption that are threatening to destroy a South African dream of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all… Likewise she is unaware of the race against time to save this unique and singular country from recklessness and destruction at the hands of arrogant egoists who almost certainly do not even know how to spell the word ‘integrity’.

Her heart would no doubt be troubled if it felt the threatening tremors of lawlessness approaching like a potentially devastating earthquake that is eager to devour and destroy the foundations of justice.

It would cry and flutter at the knowledge that the father of her children is sailing these stormy and treacherous waters in the frailty and vulnerability of old age and ill health. Yet it would sing joyously and victoriously to the tune of his courage and perseverance against all odds.

What matters most, after all, is to sense and believe that a journey of victory on high places, somewhere between reality and eternity, is ultimately rewarding.

Regardless…

…Corrupts absolutely, Mr President

To call last week’s SONA a ‘circus’ is far too complimentary and playful. Frivolous. ‘Disaster’ would be a better description. Or ‘fiasco’. Or even ‘tragedy’.

Mr President, you and your team have yet again disappointed so many South Africans who had been holding their breaths – hoping against their better knowledge and insight that this time you may just rise to the challenge. It was however not to be.

I wonder if you ever take a moment to ponder on the hopes and dreams of the freeborns who had their very first opportunity to participate in a national election in 2014. Are you even aware of the Y-generation who, together with them, are shining examples across the excitingly diverse culture spectrum, of a true Rainbow Generation? Do you have the faintest clue of how many of their political perceptions are in your hands, as the leader and head of state of their country of birth? They are honing skills and carving out futures inbetween pathetic power failures and faux pas upon political faux pas.

There is a collective glint of confusion and hesitation in their eyes. Is this it? The free, democratic South Africa in which no-one would ever again be oppressed by anyone? Have they missed something? Did Mr Mandela not make it perfectly clear as South Africa’s first democratically elected president that statesmanship came with a whole lot of integrity?

You missed yet another opportunity, Mr Zuma, of displaying true statesmanship and honour. It should have been different. But… do you have what it takes? Why would you choose to roll out a guttural and scornful laugh when you should have been taking charge with authority and dignity?

You actually had absolutely nothing at all to say about the glaring violations that were most likely occurring on your orders. Did words fail you, or do you simply lack all respect: for yourself, for institutions of the highest order and ultimately for your people?

Your party’s arrogant assumption that it had the authority to instruct the jamming of cell phone signals and the commandeering of armed forces to suit its macabre needs, thereby effectively hijacking and disregarding the sacred status of parliament constituted a seizure of power that you sadly do not have.

We have moved beyond the ‘power corrupts’ phase.

I doubt you are able to gauge the extent of the irreparable damage you have done hacking away at the foundation laid by Nelson Mandela not only for his own party, but for all South Africans for posterity.

Methinks you have gone too far: not only in your most recent public conduct, but in a myriad of instances known and unknown. You have too long been unfit for the role and status you assume and cling to.

Laugh you may; but I am afraid you may not be the last to laugh, Mr President.

*

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience”

 

 

 

 

 

Words’ Worth (an ode to words)

(‘Words’ Worth’ is a fortnightly column written for the Solid Stuff Creative facebook page)

Hunter S. Thompson is believed to have said “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right”.

At Solid Stuff  Creative we say pretty much the same: “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”… This includes words. Doing words.

Granted, it’s a known fact that you get much further and ‘say’ much more with body language. Id est  without using words. In fact Francis of Assisi supposedly said “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words”.

However, there is something powerful and almost mystical about words that leaves me awe-stricken. They are a miracle of life! And I challenge you to disagree.

Another thoroughly worn string of word pearls is the one that presumably originally went like this: “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword”. Edward George Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873), an English novelist, wrote this for the first time in 1839. Is it not self-explanatory? Can you touch and change hearts, minds and attitudes with the sword?

With bullets?

With foolish power play?

With force?

While in South Africa we are currently not blessed with a ruler or governing party that is prolific with words of encouragement or greatness, we hold dear the mind-boggling unprecedented achievement of two former leaders – one white, one black – who simultaneously and jointly proved to the entire globe that greatness certainly does not call for a single shot to be fired or sword to be drawn. With this tour de force they captivated the entire world, capturing more hearts and minds than a combination of Napoleons, Caesars, Hannibals, Chakas, Nelsons, Osama bin Ladens, Dayans and the likes. Together they brought home the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 – “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.

Their instruments, their tools were words. Their vehicle communication. Spine-chilling. Breathtaking. Show-stopping. This country and its continent would never be the same again.

Not a drop of blood was wasted in reaching a goal that had appeared to become exceedingly remote and despairingly distant. Their legacy is more precious than words. Yet gratifyingly it has been, is being and will be perpetuated and immortalized in images and words. Most importantly words. For posterity.

Former South African president Paul Kruger (late 1800’s) – one of its most colourful and charismatic – once said: “Take from the past what is good, clean and noble and build thereupon the future.”

Words. Precious and valuable.

I rest my case.

POLITIEK NIE ‘JOU KOPPIE TEE’? WAT NOU VAN 7 MEI?

Miskien was daar ‘n tyd toe ‘n mens jou onaangeraak en ongeskonde eenkant kon hou van die politiek. Onbetrokke. Want “dis nie vir jou nie”. Jy kon dit oorlaat aan die ‘politieke diere’: daardie spesie wat alte maklik (nie altyd sonder rede nie…) geëtiketteer word as nie vanselfsprekend onkreukbaar nie; of selfloos nie. Vir wie eie gewin en aansien ongelukkig dikwels onverbloemde voorrang geniet.

Alte algemeen is dit dat persoonlike ambisie of voorkeure of vooroordele by hulle hoogty vier en word aanvegbare, soms onverantwoordbare uitlatings in oorlogstrant deur hulle rondgeslinger ten koste van die groter saak en sonder aansien des persoons. “Politiek is ‘n vuil spel.”

Voor my Staatsleer-dae op Stellenbosch in die 70’s, met leermeesters soos Gerhard Tötemeyer en Fanie Cloete wat begrippe soos ‘mag’ en ‘politiek’ met filosofiese wysheid vir ons klompie 20plussers uitgelê het, was ek ook ‘n eenkant-faktor. Selfs nog jare daarna. Gestem, ja; maar niks meer nie. Daar was meer as genoeg individue daarbuite met ‘n passie vir magspeletjies. Ek wou en kon aangaan met my lewe.

VOORAAND

Dit is 4 Mei 2014. Die eerste uur van die nuwe dag; die nag is diep en stil en my hart is vol heimwee en nostalgie oor dieselfde datum en tyd 32 jaar gelede – toe ek die eerste gewaarwordinge gekry het dat my seun – my eersgeborene – sy opwagting gaan maak.

Daar is ook ander gewaarwordinge. Spanning, afwagting, gemengde emosies: oor die 2014-verkiesing wat nou, na maande se voortstuwing en voorbereiding, letterlik ophande is. En oor die deurslaggewendheid daarvan. Ek beleef dit intens. Ek is nie meer op die kantlyn nie, maar midde-in die stryd. Of spel. Of wat jy dit ook al wil noem. Ek het my onbetrokkenheid laat staan; ‘n blou T-hemp oor my kop getrek en toegetree tot die stryd. Dit klink heelparty eenvoudiger as wat dit is…

20140503_093628-1-1_resized

Wat het vir my verander? In ‘n neutedop miskien die feit dat swaar, donker, digte wolke al lank aan die saampak is op die horison en niks goeds voorspel nie; hulle word al hoe meer en kom al hoe nader. En die besef dat ek nie langer net op die kantlyn wil staan en toekyk nie. Wag en kyk wat gebeur nie. Miskien die wete dat ‘n ‘demokratiese reg’ meer beteken as om net jou kruisie op ‘n gegewe dag te trek. Miskien die drang om ter wille van my kinders – ons kinders –  in beweging te kom en my aan te sluit by ‘n groepering wat my versugting vergestalt: om dringend, uiters dringend vir verandering te veg.

Om eenkant te sit en wag dat die politici aanvaarbare en werkbare oplossings vind terwyl ek toekyk, was hoewel die maklikste, nie meer die beste of die enigste opsie nie. Dit was tyd om op te staan en in te skakel…

INTEGRITEIT

Hierdie groepering het ‘n ideologie en ‘n visie wat totaal verweef is met integriteit en afhanklik is daarvan. Om die waarheid te sê – dit gaan akkoord met die droom wat Nelson Mandela vir hierdie land en sy mense gekoester het… Ek kan my daarmee vereenselwig. Ek kon my gewig daarby ingooi.

Ek kon ‘n beskeie maar gewillige rolspeler word: in my eie gemeenskap, tussen my mense. Die taak is groot, maar die boodskap is eenvoudig: Suid-Afrika is in die moeilikheid en daar moet verandering kom. Die skip sal omgedraai moet word voordat dit die afgrond in tuimel. Ons land moet gered word. Dis al genade.

Die ‘hearts & minds’ van Suid-Afrikaners moet aangeraak en voorberei word vir winde van verandering.

So – hier is ek en die ander wat saam met my in dieselfde bootjie is: moeg en gestres; maar passievol en hoopvol.

Mag die Demokratiese Alliansie meer duidelike kruisies op hom verenig as ooit vantevore – van helder denkendes wat ‘n ‘duidelike blou frokkie’ dra!

Die kwesbares... ons mag hulle nie in die steek laat nie

Die kwesbares… ons mag hulle nie in die steek laat nie