South Africa is once again demonstrating its neutrality over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This comes just a few days after it was revealed that SA had been following a non-partisan approach by supplying arms and ammunition to Russia.
Now we’ve sent the head of the SANDF (the SA armed forces) to Russia to “visit educational institutions of the ground forces and enterprises of the military-industrial complex” there and “further increase cooperation between ground forces in various fields”.
Thank goodness we’re not taking sides here.
It’s not like we can afford to be doing this. The Rand is tanking already because of loadshedding and the arms shipments row. To add fuel to the fire right now seems both deliberately provocative and deliberately stupid.
South African bilateral trade with Russia amounts to around $1.3 billion. In comparison, bilateral trade with the UK is $10.1 billion, the US is around $17 billion and the EU over $30 billion. To risk all of that for Vlad’s pocket change means that there’s clearly something else happening behind the scenes. Is that something SA owes Russia? Or is it something the Ramaphosa owes Putin? Because we can talk all day long about how much we abhor the colonial West and and all that they stand for, but that talk is cheap when we are still doing 50x more trade with them each year than we are with Mother Russia. And that’s a lot of money we simply can’t afford to lose.
Maybe the idea is to just run what’s left of the country into the ground before they get voted out at the next election. Or maybe this is actually an election strategy: a vote winner. The anti-imperialists will go for it, of course, but it remains to be seen how the incoming hyper-inflation will attract any normal person to vote for the ANC.
So… what is the plan here? Because I’m equally mystified and concerned.
It was all a bit weird from the start. Populist, vocal, flipflopping political party, known for its publicity stunts and – let’s be honest here – “occasional” forays into violent protest, calls for a day of National Shutdown to end loadshedding and oust the President. But given that their grievances are an ongoing thing, it was odd that they gave us all six or seven weeks notice.
Until you realise that they had chosen the Monday 20th March because it falls in between a weekend and Tuesday 21st March – a public holiday. Schools were closed, many people would have taken one day of leave from work to get an extra long weekend: it would likely be quiet anyway. This did not go unnoticed by some people:
But it did meant that the organisers could easily claim that images of quiet cities and empty streets were down to support for their cause, when actually, a control for their experiment would have yielded much the same result.
Hint: Don’t mess with a national keypoint, guys. Silly move.
And many of those businesses (not the airport) won’t be open today Not because they are supporting the protest, but more that that they are terrified of the potential violence that might befall them, should they open. And while the leaders of the party are publicly calling for peaceful protest, the EFF dosen’t have a great record at doing that:
I’m not saying that today’s EFF protests will be/would have been violent. I’m just saying that their history is enough to assume that there’s a fair chance that it won’t all be peaceful. And in the lead up to the protest, over 24,000 tyres (the SA protestors weapon of choice):
were found – many of them sequestered at strategically important localities like major intersections – and removed.
So when journalists report that “street vendors stayed away”, and the EFF supporters claim that shows endorsement for the protest, I’m more willing to believe that it’s just for the vendors’ safety and that of their businesses.
And then there’s the misinformation, because there always is misinformation. Old videos, old pictures, entirely normal traffic jams: the works. Thankfully, all debunked here. But not before they have had millions of impressions on social media.
Also, it rained in Cape Town this morning. It rained a lot. Now I’ve never been a fan of sports which are stopped by a bit of rain (tennis, padel, cricket etc…). And the rain certainly kept the protest numbers down around here. Much to the amusement of the mayor:
Cheap shot, agreed, but I reckon that he’ll be extremely glad that the weather helped his city out today. And after all the sabre-rattling, intimidation, threats and bravado from the other side, why not push back a little?
It’s 4:30pm now, and there have only been sporadic or unverified (at the time of writing) incidents across the country, thus far. It seemed like a lot of people stayed away from the protests instead of work – there have been a lot of images of tiny groups of red-shirted individuals from various places around the country.
A couple of valid(?) points have been raised though. The sudden availability of police officers to combat any trouble that may arise, when they’re usually nowhere to be found when actual crime happens to actual individuals. That said, I do know that they are working unsustainable shift patterns in many places to have extra numbers on the ground today. Even Struisbaai SAPS has 12 hour shifts going on this weekend, and the EFF only managed 20 votes there in the recent by-election. And the sudden availability of electricity, as well. Is it really down to hard work and good luck, or can the powers that be actually positively affect loadshedding? And if so, how? Because if so, that’s quite sinister. Why aren’t they doing it all the time? The proof of the pudding here will be what happens tomorrow and the rest of the week. And finally – why the panic by the government? Lots of police, lots of talk, lots of unnecessary drama:
“Regime change”? “Unconstitutional means”? (Let’s talk about constitutional means after the elections next year.) And the military on standby. Overkill. Sorry – poor choice of words.
All in all, an awful lot of “all mouth, no trousers” again, as it usually is in SA politics. OK, in worldwide politics, but especially in SA politics. Still a few hours of the day to go, though. And then the rest of the year.
Anything could happen.
And what’s happening here? Well, I’m going to have a beer, because my fridge hasn’t been shut down.
The that thing in question being loadshedding. Rolling blackouts. Power cuts. And I’m sorry to go on about it because I know that it’s really not a thing that South African residents need to hear any more about, and it’s probably not a thing thing that is of huge interest to those overseas.
But it is completely dominating our lives at the moment, and it occurred to me, as my inner voice breathed a huge sigh of relief that our planned 12 hours of electrical darkness was reduced to “just” 8 yesterday, that I’m clearly suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome. I think that it’s important not to do that. In a semi developed country such as SA, we shouldn’t have to accept 8 hours of no power every day and just be able to turn the other cheek, smile and say “Well, at least it wasn’t 12!”. We shouldn’t be normalising loadshedding. We should be angry about it.
The courier guy who just came to our door (alerting me to his presence at the gate by a whistle, because the doorbell isn’t working, because we have no electricity, because of loadshedding), was certainly angry:
No, man. I’m so moeg of it. And then your electrical items like your fridge and your TV get fucked up because of it.
There’s nothing quite like an expletive in a Cape Coloured accent to really drive the message home.
That said, there needs to be some balance and understanding as well (whatever your accent). Because the constant anger and stress will do our collective health no good whatsoever, and it won’t make a jot of difference to the situation.
THERE IS NO QUICK FIX. We’ve missed our opportunity to to do that over the last 14+ years.
Well, no shit, Sherlock. Thanks for that valuable insight, just 14 years in the making. What a woman, trying desperately hard to be relevant ahead of the December ANC conference. So much soundbite. So little action.
Still, even given all the nonsense I have described, those individuals who go out of their way to USE MORE electricity (when they have it), just because Eskom told them not to and they don’t like Eskom, are equal parts irritating and amusing. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. To be honest, I’m sure it’s mainly internet bluster and bravado: surely no-one could actually be that stupid, right?
Love it or hate it [Really?!? -Ed.], we’re unavoidably stuck with loadshedding for the foreseeable future and beyond. And as is clear from the several hundred words above, my advice is to just get used to it, but also very much, don’t let yourself just get used to it.
Surely this change of heart is solely due to compromises on policies and outcomes leading to better service delivery, because – let’s be honest – what could go wrong? Their track record on this sort of thing is perfect:
The refusal by the IFP to co-govern municipalities with the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is a culmination of decades of mistrust arising from what the IFP perceives to be unkept promises to the electorate and a disgraceful breach of a solemn undertaking to its leadership. In the words of IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa, the ANC cannot be trusted as it “has not been honest with us in the past. They have let down (the) people of South Africa, and the voters clearly expressed themselves when it comes to the ANC.”
But that was last week.
This week, they’re the best of friends and everything is going according to plan so more politicians can have more power.
Remember the elections a couple of weeks ago? They were (mostly) an unmitigated disaster, with a lot of hung municipalities across the country. I said then that rather than this being an exciting, new democratic age full of hope, transparency and better government, we were more likely to head down the route of egos, money and general crap, meaning that there will be constant infighting for power and nothing will get done properly for the next 5 years.
An aside: Cape Agulhas Municipality still hasn’t even got a council set up because they can’t decide who is going to run it. And that – if you recall – was the best run municipality in the whole country. Now? Completely dysfunctional while we wait for them to sort themselves out.
But that is all part of the democratic process. I do get it. So you might have thought that I was being a bit negative. After all, how bad could it be?
He raped a 15-year-old in 2004. He was initially sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed to the Western Cape High Court. While his conviction wasn’t overturned, his sentence was reduced by Judge Lee Bozalek to a wholly suspended term of imprisonment, correctional supervision, a R20 000 fine and a rehabilitation programme for sex offenders.
And now he’s mayor of Kannaland Municipality, because ICOSA managed to be the largest party in the area, and they are helpfully being propped up by the ANC, who would rather these two delightful gentlemen ran the place than giving the DA any chance of getting in. Horrific.
But then there is only so much for which the format of the elections can be held responsible. Child rapist Donson and fraudster Meshoa wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be in charge if over 8,000 people hadn’t voted for them on the 1st. No wonder they are smiling.
Just how disgusting does your story have to be before voters choose not to support you? Where does that put the other parties? How bad are they that these guys were the best choice? It’s terrifying.
Anyway, I’m thoroughly sickened for the day already, so I’ll be elsewhere, hoping and praying (such as it is) that there is nothing close to this awful story in the ongoing and upcoming coalition negotiations across the country.