Tag Archives: things that concern me

Heroes Day

Today is Heroes Day in Zimbabwe. I’ve always found it kind of interesting, being basically like Independence Day but with more reverence paid to those who through much struggle and sacrifice made independent Zimbabwe a reality. And although I admit that it’s a little shrine-like to bury all of a country’s heroes together at Heroes Acre, it does extend honour to those who’ve done much for Zimbabwe and I think it’s a pretty cool idea. Whether all those buried at Heroes Acre deserve such honour, however, is a different story for another time and another place.

After Independence Day, Heroes Day is President Mugabe’s other big opportunity to speak about pressing issues such as evil sanctions, blah, blah, colonial oppressors, blah, blah, and how Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. I don’t mean to undermine the importance of these issues, it’s just that he has used basically the same speech for the last 5 years so it’s become a little tedious.

You can practically predict what he’ll talk about next: invariably it starts off covering the sterling sacrifices of Zimbabwe’s leaders of years gone by, it then moves on to their courageous struggle against and overthrow of the oppressive Smith regime, then he speaks for a while about the injustice of the Smith regime itself and the racism of white minority rule. All of this is expected and understandable, with it being Heroes Day and all.

But then, after about 45 minutes, he’ll take a bit of a tangent, moving on to the wickedness of the West and their continued threat and interference, before speaking about the evilness of the targeted sanctions against certain Zimbabwe government officials and how, basically, the sanctions are solely to blame for Zimbabwe’s devastated economy. Not surprisingly, when the crippled economy is being spoken of, the fact that the Zimbabwean economy was agriculture-based and couldn’t survive the seizure of the vast majority of the country’s commercial farms isn’t mentioned.

But let’s not get distracted by that as, finally, and by far most importantly, he reminds us all that the West wants nothing more than to recolonize Zimbabwe and that Zimbabwe must vigorously resist this happening. My favourite line from this part of his speeches is “Blair can keep his England and I will keep my Zimbabwe!” Obviously that line had to be slightly reworked once Blair was no longer relevant, but the sentiment remains largely intact.

Apart from Mugabe’s Heroes Day vitriol, the other frustratingly predictable thing about this time of year is the ZANU propaganda and focus on who has liberation credentials and who doesn’t, readily evident in the pieces of most pro-government columnists. As annoying as they sometimes are, they are also highly entertaining for their flowery and hilarious use of the English language. I came across one that made me chuckle… as well as, you know, get a little scared and uncomfortable.

“BACK in the village, yonder in the land of milk, honey and dust, or Guruve if you like, where morals are ideal and respect is sacrosanct, there are times when diplomacy is hurled out through the window. This is the time when a spade is called a spade and when it becomes clear and clearer that no amount of cosmetics can beautify a frog. During that time no one is prepared to hug a hyena to make peace.”

Wow, what an opening paragraph. For those who are not familiar with Guruve, I wonder what kind of picture is painted of the place in their minds. I suspect that it doesn’t much resemble the real Guruve, or the real Zimbabwe for that matter, but anyways. I’m also rather confused… and very concerned… about when people are actually prepared to hug hyenas… and whether they actually do it. But maybe that’s just me.

The writer then goes into Zimbabwe’s liberation war, stating that it was a painful one, full of blood and sacrifice. Indeed, “it was a journey for the lion-hearted, never for the chicken-hearted.” He urges us to celebrate “the lives of our gallant heroes – departed and living – who traversed a long and arduous journey that began with the Umvukela of 1893”, and he goes on to outline the decade-long Second Chimurenga that finally brought Zimbabwe its freedom, and the continuing Third Chimurenga.

The heroes that we have to thank for this progress span from “Mbuya Nehanda to Sikhajaya Muntanga and the living cadres.” I’ve never heard of Sikhajaya Muntanga, and neither has Google, but the writer has been known to quote his father in his column, so he/she may be a relative. I would have thought that there were many others that he could have chosen to illustrate those who made a lifelong commitment “to the majority”, not least Herbert Chitepo and Josiah Tongogara, but, no, he chose the very obscure. But that doesn’t really matter as he mentions this only to make the main point of his piece: “one should wonder, could Zimbabwe have been free today if there were people of the calibre of some of our so-called leaders?

“Of course this villager is talking about those who ran back home to their mothers, when they heard the sound of the gun, whom we now have in some measure including at the top echelons of our inclusive Government.” After years of such attacks, it’s easy to recognise that it’s PM Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders that are being insulted here, on the grounds that their liberation credentials are not as strong as some in ZANU.

Apparently, in his last column, whilst berating the MDC, “this villager highlighted how some legislators were spending time calling for the legalisation of prostitution. Some female legislator even called prostitutes “pleasure engineers”! What cheek! This could have been pretty laughable were it not so tragic. Surely in Nhamoyebonde Village, such sentiments would send the chicken laughing, throughout the village. All they think about is their loins and what to do in between the sheets. The village soothsayer, that ageless fountain of wisdom, says: “Check their records. Find out how they got to where they are and tell me!” Sex maniacs!” Yes, he’s referring to himself as being an ageless fountain of wisdom. Too much!

“They are the same people who tell us they are fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe. But, which democracy? You guessed right, the democracy as dictated from Washington and London. Now the latter have now become democracy champions when only a few years ago they needed the lessons of the gun to admit to the legitimacy of black majority rule.

“We even hear the MDC now have their heroes, too. Real heroes like Mbuya Nehanda, Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Tongogara, JZ, Leopold Takawira, among many others should be turning in their graves, with anger and disbelief. The living among them should be wallowing in the curse that their efforts and exertions wrought. But it does not end there. We now hear that the MDC formations now seek to undo the security forces of Zimbabwe to weed out generals who have remained vigilant against the imperial enemy, since the days of Second Chimurenga. My foot!

“Yes, the soft ones ran back home to their mothers after an attempt to join the struggle and in their softness lies the folly that has catapulted them into the trenches of the enemy. President Robert Mugabe is the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. For all we know, he is about the biggest hardliner against imperialism in the world today. So does it mean torpedoing him as well, via deposing his generals? Where on earth would any leader accept that? Certainly not here! Nyikayaramba, hazviite, Zimbabwe ndeyeropa! President Mugabe should not, and this villager is sure he will not accept this foolishness. He has already stated so, and the generals themselves knowing the supreme command have said hands off as well.

“This is not about being unreasonable. The force, under the command of President Mugabe, has done remarkably well in defending the country – so much that Britain feared to attack us. The force has participated at various United Nations missions keeping the peace even in Europe itself. It can only be political mischief that calls for the so-called reform of the force. In fact, it is security sector “deform” that these mischievous guys are looking for. A deformed force surely will do the bidding of the enemy and fail to defend the motherland. A deformed force will find it amenable to salute enemy flags.

“”One day, just one day. You will see how the generals are all important to his country. Just one day,” says the soothsayer.”

A piece like this, and attitudes like that of this soothsayer and, um, ageless fountain of wisdom, makes it clear how difficult it is to achieve any real political reform in Zimbabwe, and why insufficient credence is given to the MDC within the government of national unity. I’m not sure if or how this will ever change, or how Zimbabwe will come to look to the future rather than the past in resolving its problems. In the meantime, roll on another Heroes Day and anti-MDC and anti-West tirade and, I guess, at least we can rest assured that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

For all the charade that Heroes Day has become, let us not forget that Zimbabwe has had many worthy heroes whose great sacrifices to bring us freedom should be remembered and celebrated. Happy Heroes Day Zimbabwe.

One year on

This month marks a year since South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup, and it has been a very interesting month, although totally unlike June 2010. Last June 11, South Africa was absolutely electric with the excitement of the Bafana Bafana vs. Mexico kick-off match. I had my Bafana Bafana jersey on, my vuvuzela and South African flag in hand, and was generally running amok at the Melrose Arch fan park. The drive to the fan park had been unreal, every car was draped in the South African flag, drivers were blowing their vuvuzelas between gear changes and Japanese tourists kept taking pictures of a friend and I dancing in her convertible during stand-still traffic. It was an indescribable day.

One year on, June 11 was marked by the funeral of anti-Apartheid struggle icon Albertina Sisulu. South Africa was devastated and the nation was in mourning. I had been in Soweto that morning, not far from where the service at Orlando Stadium was to take place, and it was unusually subdued, with tangible sadness hanging in the air. President Zuma had granted MaSisulu a full State funeral, which was fitting for a lady he described as being “wise and wonderful” and one of the last of a “dedicated, committed and illustrious generation of leaders.”

Several foreign dignitaries were present, notably former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, who had housed the ANC in exile in Lusaka during the anti-Apartheid struggle, as well as numerous ANC dignitaries and members of the Sisulu family. The packed stadium repeatedly rose in song, the somber funeral tunes accompanied by the slow swaying of mourners and the undulation of ANC flags. One couldn’t help but feel that everyone was not just mourning the passing of MaSisulu, they were also mourning the ending of an era in South Africa. Madiba and his generation of ANC leaders have been the rudder and anchor of South Africans for so long and the thought of them no longer being there to guide us is almost too much to comprehend.

Madiba’s wife, Graca Machel, read a message from Madiba, who had said that he could not bear the pain of attending MaSisulu’s funeral in person. His words to MaSisulu were heart-wrenching. “Your children and grandchildren came to inform me of your passing away and instead of me comforting them in this hour of loss and grief, they had to comfort and console me. It is difficult to describe the pain and sadness in my heart as I bid goodbye to a dear friend and comrade, a sister with whom I shared so much over a lifetime.You are so much more than a comrade; you are part of my being – you and Walter. I want to express my deep gratitude to you.” This coming from a man who, despite living an unbelievably difficult life, is now practically the only survivor of his era of leaders and comrades.

In his eulogy, President Zuma said that the Sisulu name has become synonymous with the struggle for freedom, justice, human rights and human dignity, and that we were “laying to rest a stalwart and mother of the nation, who combined resilience and fortitude in fighting colonial oppression and Apartheid, with compassion for the poor and downtrodden.” What an apt description of an incredible woman. The service at Orlando Stadium was a deeply moving and beautiful send off to MaSisulu, who was finally laid to rest alongside her husband, Walter Sisulu. I only hope that I may learn from MaSisulu’s example to care more and to fight more for my fellow human beings.

Two days later, a Zimbabwean man was stoned to death in Polokwane, “the city of love”. Oh, the irony. This followed numerous incidents of intimation of Zimbabweans in Polokwane, where Zimbabweans have repeatedly been attacked and assaulted, their homes and stores damaged and burnt and their possessions and goods stolen. The hateful xenophobia in Polokwane is reminiscent of that which broke out throughout South Africa in 2008 when a Mozambiquan man was burnt to death. Several people have since been arrested for the violence in Polokwane, including an ANC councillor who is believed to have led most, if not all, of the attacks against Zimbabweans.

I just cannot begin to understand what could drive people to stone someone to death. It must be one of the most cruel and violent ways to kill someone, and it sickens me people would do that to someone for no other reason than because he is a Zimbabwean. A year ago, South Africa was welcoming foreigners with open arms, but it appears that such tolerance was maintained for little longer than the duration of the World Cup.

Last week Julius Malema got a second term as President of the ANC Youth League. All I have to say about that is “shoot me in the face”. Now.

Finally, after a difficult month thus far, we have the pleasure of hosting Michelle Obama and her two daughters, who are on a tour of South Africa. Today they’re visiting the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, which is pretty cool as Youth Day was on 16 June. It’s been 35 years since the Soweto Uprising, when Pieterson was killed by police during student protests against Afrikaans being introduced as the medium of instruction in Sowetan schools. He was only 12 years old. The bravery of those school kids in 1976 totally astounds me.

The theme of Michelle Obama’s tour seems to be the inspiration of woman and youth. I can’t think of anything more fitting for South Africa right now than the inspiration and empowerment of women and the youth, in a month in which we’ve celebrated the contributions of Albertina Sisulu and the brave children of 1976 to the betterment of South Africa.

Once the ANC were warriors

Debate on the Protection of Information Bill, which has been dubbed the Secrecy Bill for obvious reasons, has been back in the news this week. The ANC has begun to force the Bill through Parliament, disregarding the legitimate concerns of non-ANC Parliamentarians and civil society, as well as, well, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The manner in which the ANC is doing this is unconstitutional, against established legislation drafting practices and has been downright hostile. In its current form, this Bill will never pass constitutional scrutiny and, as things currently stand, unless President Zuma intervenes and refuses to sign this Bill into law, South Africa will be facing a very nasty fight in our Constitutional Court, which the ANC will never win, but during which time the Bill may be operational.

I’ll give a bit of background for those of you who are not familiar with the provisions of the Secrecy Bill or it’s possible implications. Essentially, the Bill seeks to classify certain information into various categories: valuable, confidential, secret, top secret and so on. Any head of “an organ of state” may classify information, or may delegate the power to classify information to other persons. It is estimated that over 1000 entities could fall under the description of “an organ of state”, so that’s over 1000 people and, in light of the delegation powers, it could be many more thousands of people who can classify information pretty much as they wish.

Information will be classified depending on its “national interest” importance. The Bill has an open-ended definition of “national interest”, which includes, but is not limited to “all matters relating to the advancement of the public good”. It’s an extremely broad definition. “National interest” includes things like “security from all forms of crime” and “details of criminal investigations and police and law enforcement methods”, i.e. basically everything. So, for example, police enforcement methods, which increasingly involve excessive police brutality, would fall within this broad definition of “national interest”.

Apart from the extremely broad definition of information that can be classified, there are many other things that greatly concern me about the Bill. For example, people can fall foul not only for possessing classified information, but also if they should reasonably have known that they possessed such classified information. So, if you tend to not really pay attention to what’s happening around you or in current affairs in the country, best you snap out of it and start paying attention or you could inadvertently end up in deep shit. If you retain this information (which, remember, you may not even know that you have), you’re in even more shit. And, should you publish such information, then God help you. Here, ladies and gentlemen, ends all freedom of media in South Africa.

The Bill defines “espionage offences” and “hostile activity offences”, both of which carry jail terms of up to 25 years. 25 years! And no, I’m not kidding. Imprisonment of between 15 and 25 years will be given to those that “unlawfully communicate, deliver or make available State information classified top secret which an offender knows or ought reasonably to have known or suspected would directly or indirectly prejudice the state“. There it is again, you don’t even need to be aware of what you’re doing and you can end up in the slammer for 25 years. WTF??!

And who gets to decide what “prejudice to the state” is anyway? Those potential thousands of people in countless organs of state in South Africa? From past experience, we’ve seen that the ANC only likes what it calls “patriotic journalism”, which is when journalists write nice, polite and complimentary things about the government and South Africa as a whole. I guess anything that is even slightly less than complimentary will be regarded as prejudicing the state and those who write it will end up in jail. For a long time. This all sounds vaguely familiar… if only I could place it… hmmm… oh, yes… communist Russia under Joseph Stalin. Do you think the ANC will stop there or will they make the imprisoned journalists work in salt mines too?

And before you complain that maybe this is necessary because South African journalists sometimes make mistakes and they should be punished for it,  just remember that that is the nature of investigative journalism. Mistakes happen. The mistakes they make, however, are greatly outweighed by the good that they do. With this Bill, the ANC is not trying to punish journalists for making mistakes, they are trying to punish journalists for telling the truth.

Before last week’s elections, the ANC made certain concessions where they agreed to replace “national interest” with the more restricted “national security”. They also agreed to bring the Secrecy Bill in line with the existing Promotion of Access to Information Act (which protects your right to know and which is in total contradiction to the Secrecy Bill). Mere days after the elections, they’ve reneged on these concessions. Maybe they’re sulking because they lost 2% of their support. Who knows.

Oh, and before I forget, the ANC will not allow the defence of public interest to be included in the Bill because, heaven forbid, anyone else might know what’s best for this country or may have a legitimate reason for exposing what he or she did. The ANC’s reason for not allowing the public interest defence is that they couldn’t find any international good practice that allowed for it. Where were they looking? The Arab world? Zimbabwe? Also, I hate to break it to you, but the lack of the public interest defence internationally is most probably because there is no international good practice that allows for states to violate their citizens’ right to know by way of Secrecy Bills and similar crap.

In short, a journalist who reports on police brutality, which I’m sure would be regarded as “prejudice to the state” will go to jail for upwards of 15 years. So would a journalist who reports on fraud in government tenders. And so will a journalist who reports on Sheryl Cwele being a drug trafficker because, as we all know, her husband is the head of an organ of state and could so very easily classify anything to do with her criminal activities as not being in the national interest.

And before you think that it’s just the rights of journalists that will be infringed, you should pause for a second and contemplate how this Bill will violate your right to know… because under this law, you will know nothing. About anything. Now, I for one don’t know who gave the ANC the right to decide what I’m allowed to know and what I’m not allowed to know about my life and the things that affect it, and I’m really angry about what’s going on.

As far as the ANC is concerned, I’ve never been very critical of them, in fact I’ve supported much of what they’ve done. However, what the ANC is doing with the Secrecy Bill is frightening and it makes my blood run cold. It is a relief that not all ANC leaders support the Bill, leaders like Pallo Jordan have come out against it, and I hope that there are many more similarly minded people. I hope, too, that ANC leaders will remember how hard they fought, and how much they sacrificed, to secure our right to know. I hope that they will stand against what is being done in their name. I hope that they will remember that once the ANC were warriors.

I choose life, thanks

A couple of days ago I decided to read Alexandra Fuller’s Scribbling the Cat. I’d been meaning to read it for years, but never really seemed to be in a stable enough emotional place to do so. Such books on Zimbabwe are inevitably full of trauma, trauma and more trauma, and they take me to a very dark place. Either they’re about horrific things in Zimbabwe’s past, things that happened before I was born and things that I immediately wish I’d never found out about, or they’re about terrible things that have happened in Zimbabwe during my life, during my memory, things that I wish I could forget. Always, these books leave me feeling helpless, angry and, often, ashamed at the colour of my skin. So I’d rather not read them. I’d rather stay off the bathroom floor, thanks.

But, after receiving a strange invitation to a friend’s party a week or two ago, I decided to give Fuller’s book a shot in the hope that it would answer some of my questions. I’d been thinking a lot about my identity as, I guess, a white Zimbabwean. I say ‘I guess’ because, although I sometimes genuinely identify with fellow white Zimbabweans, I often can’t even begin to wrap my head around many commonly held white attitudes. You see, I was raised by a family that doesn’t see colour. My mum tells me that they were often accused of being “lily-white liberals”, but, she insists, it’s never been a very accurate description. Rather, she says “We’ve always been before our time.”

To explain this a little further, when Ian Smith was still alive, and living in an old-age home in Cape Town, my mum once suggested that I go and visit him, to chat to him and listen to his story. I’d tried to read his autobiography but, after too much of his sanctimonious I’m-so-wonderful-and-I-was-always-right attitude, I’d got generally sickened and lost interest. According to the people who knew him, he was an incredibly interesting guy, but I found his autobiography was very annoying (probably because I was judging him as a person, but anyway). My mum said, “Go and see him and talk to him yourself. He probably doesn’t get many visitors. Tell him that you’re Howard’s granddaughter. He’s apparently losing his marbles, but he’ll remember your grandpa. Your grandpa always gave him a hard time about the UDI and not letting black people vote”. Despite many calls for him to become MP of his area, my grandfather refused, he disagreed with Smith’s government and would not be persuaded to be part of it. Smith, on the other hand, died before I had a chance to track him down.

Because of the kind of people that my family are, and because of how I was raised, I find myself having little in common with a lot of white Zimbabweans. Which is probably why I don’t understand the invitation I received. Without going into much detail, it was basically a “long live Rhodesia” type vibe. And a lot of people had RSVPed to say that they would be attending (all white, duh). I couldn’t work out whether it was a joke or for real… basically, I wasn’t sure whether I should be offended and confused, or just confused. But, for argument’s sake, let’s assume that it’s actually for real, that it’s not just me having a sense of humour failure, because, let’s be honest, even if it is a joke, it’s not funny. It’s like having an Apartheid themed party and asking everyone to dress up as AWB. WTF?

There was a short poem attached to the invitation:

Apart from feeling like you’re going round in dizzying circles as you read the poem, as well as the fact that Stan Glover has a Shona nickname (very confusing in light of the poem), there are several things that I don’t understand about this whole situation. Most confusing is the fact that none of the people involved in hosting or attending this party were ever Rhodesians. They are my age and were born into an independent Zimbabwe. They never knew Rhodesia. They weren’t even born. Totally WTF-like. Maybe I’ll RSVP: “I will not be attending because I love Zimbabwe (yes, it’s now called Zimbabwe, and has been for the last 31 years – i.e. since before you were born). Thanks though.”

And, as far as Scribbling the Cat went, I reached page 152, after which I wanted to vomit and burn the book. But then I couldn’t find matches. And it isn’t my book. So I didn’t.

Last week, I went to a book signing by Peter Godwin, who is best known for his more recent books Mukiwa, When the Crocodile Eats the Sun and The Fear. A fascinating man. But more about him in another post perhaps. I got him to sign a copy of The Fear for me. I doubt I’ll ever read it. Or open it for that matter (except maybe to look at the message he wrote to me). I choose life, thanks.

One settler, one prozac

Someone spray-painted this picture on a sign for an accounting firm near my office. I’m not sure how the accounting firm feels about it.

It’s obviously a play on the Azanian People’s Liberation Army slogan of “One settler, one bullet”, used during the 1980s struggle against Apartheid in South Africa or, as modified by Kobus in District 9, “One prawn, one bullet”. Come to think of it, kids probably think Kobus coined it. Anyway, before all the whites get uncomfortable, I just need to clarify that “settler” was never used to refer to all whites, just those who thought oppression was awesome.

I’m struck by the irony of the sign every time I drive past it and I don’t know whether to find it funny or not. I guess that’s the whole point. I’ve heard a lot of white people freaking out about South Africa lately, probably because of the elections and stuff. Sometimes their fears are totally WTF-like to me, but generally they are just the same fears as those held by South Africans of all races, usually having something to do with Julius Malema or the City of Johannesburg accidentally sending people electricity bills for R2.5 million (as though electricity metres even count that high). What I’m trying to say is that they are, by and large, understandable concerns, but nothing that a little prozac wouldn’t cure.

And they’re clearly concerns that are making people vote for the DA, as initial election results show that the DA has gained significantly in these elections, now holding approximately 1 in every 4 votes. That’s up from 1 in every 100 votes not that long ago. Clearly the DA is no longer just a white party because there are not enough whites (or coloured people for that matter) in this country to give them that much support. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the DA’s new support is as a result of Juju being such a pain in the arse over the last few years, as well as COPE’s collapse of epic and embarrassing proportions. The DA should probably thank them all for that.

I’m all for a strong opposition, they keep the ANC on their toes, and democracy, service delivery and our everyday lives in general are better for it. It’s what is going to ensure that South Africa doesn’t go down the same disastrous route as many other African countries.

All of this doesn’t really matter considering that Judgement Day is scheduled for tomorrow. This is when people are supposed to get raptured and stuff. According to some very shady maths done by Harold Camping, who sounds like a full-on loony, tomorrow is 7000 years since Noah’s flood started. He’s cried this wolf several times before, making a big fuss of 21 May 1994 but, after that passed with no rapturing, he realised he’d “miscalculated” … again.

So we’ll see how tomorrow goes. Those of us who aren’t raptured may face “the torment of a scorpion” for the next 5 months until 21 October 2011, when the End of the World will go down. It doesn’t sound like much fun. Tell your friends and family you love and value them today… not because of the impending doom, but because you should do that every day. Peace out and all the best with Judgement Day.

Love your South Africa

It’s less than 2 days before polls open for the 2011 Local Government Elections… and I’m yet to hear of anyone being tortured or killed. The opposition has rallies and no rubber bullets or tear gas are used to disburse the gathered supporters. People aren’t forced to keep their vote a secret on fear of death, instead they openly discuss who they are going to vote for and why. After many years in South Africa, I still find this weird.

Rather, kids are attending school as per normal and people are peacefully at work, acting as though they’re not about to exercise their most powerful right as South African citizens. In fact, in South Africa, potential voters are frequently reminded that voting is both a right and an obligation. I find the fact that people have to be persuaded to vote very strange… why would you not vote when you have the opportunity to do so in free and fair elections? I guess the problem is that many South Africans don’t realise how lucky they are. It’s also insulting to those of us who have never seen free and fair elections in our countries.

All in all, it’s been a rather boring election run-up. Don’t get me wrong, this is obviously a good thing, but it’s still quite boring. The only entertainment we’ve had are reminders that those who vote for the ANC will go to heaven and bad election posters. I mean, if your face is going to be on every lamp post in the vicinity, why didn’t you at least choose a good picture of yourself? I tell you, some of them are just naaasty. It’s self-sabotage, pure and simple. They clearly want people to not vote for them.

Oh wait, and then there’s also COPE’s participation in the elections, which I just find hilarious. Their posters have “Reliable. Accountable. Incorruptible” pasted across them, together with Lekota’s beaming face. Are they for real? I can’t help wondering whether maybe they’re maybe talking about another COPE, a COPE whose leaders didn’t bicker and squabble over power until they’d all lost every ounce of credibility, a COPE that didn’t have to go to the High Court to tell them who was actually the president of their own party… you know, basically a COPE that was serious about life.

Of course, there has also been all the fighting about toilets, so much so that the elections are being commonly referred to as “the toilet elections”. First, the DA was in crap for failing to enclose toilets they had built in Makhaza informal settlement in the Western Cape. The ANC then called the DA a racist political party, blah, blah, blah, which made things more awkward. The DA has now been slapped with a court order ordering them to enclose the toilets. Damn right, I thought.

Then came the revelation that the ANC has failed to enclose toilets they built in Moqhaka Local Municipality in the Free State. That left deep embarrassment on the ANC’s collective face. The ANC had entered into the same agreement with local residents as the DA had in Cape Town – there was an understanding that if they provided the sanitation, the residents would provide the enclosures. Apparently such agreements are illegal and contrary to the Constitution, but I honestly think both the DA and the ANC were just trying to do their best on limited budgets and they placed too much trust in the residents delivering on their side of the deal. It back-fired on both of them.

I must just say, as an aside, that I’ve been really impressed with the ANC’s reaction to the discovery of unenclosed ANC toilets. They didn’t fight it or try to wrangle their way out of it, they took responsibility and said, “Whatever the circumstance, it’s unacceptable… We cannot allow our people to be disrespected like that. It’s even worse if that’s being done by an ANC municipality”. Those are pretty deep sentiments. Since the discovery of the unenclosed toilets, they’ve enclosed hundreds and have said that they will enclose hundreds more in the coming weeks. Well done.

The squabbling about toilets has shown that the political parties concerned realise exactly what these elections are about: basic service delivery. Which is what local government elections should be about. As they say, you get the leaders you deserve, and if you don’t vote, I guess you get the leaders that other people deserve… and you definitely lose your right to complain about lack of service delivery. So, please, go out and make your mark on Wednesday. Vote for who you think is going to provide the best basic service delivery. Love your South Africa.