Say Sorry, Fikile!

Ah yes, the bizarre world of South African politics. How we love it. And how we especially love Fikile Mbalula and his regular nonsensical verbosity. Oh stop it, of course we do.

First off, he told us about… this… the… something…:

We were aware of the ultra-leftist tendencies that were aimed at uplifting pseudo-Marxist predispositions at the expense of the revolutionary recognition of the symbiotic link between national liberation and social emancipation; born out of the acknowledgement of the inter-play between the national oppression and class exploitation.

Yep, us too, Fikile. Us too.
And then there was the time that Bafana beat Angola, nudging Fikile into a 1,162 word rallying speech of note, which began thus:

We stand here this morning as a proud and confident nation imbued by the resounding thrashing, walloping and gregarious defeat of the Angolan national football Team in Ethekwini by the our astonishing and call-heeding warriors Bafana-Bafana, the crown jewel of the nation of the most popular sport in our country and the world over.

José Eduardo dos Santos. José Eduardo dos Santos, do you hear me?
Your boys took a hell of a beating.

Compare and contrast that with his ranty outburst in Jaunary this year, when he described the team as “useless” and “a bunch of losers”. Yes, he remains our Minister of Sport.
And that latter fact may be due to his unfaltering allegiance to Number One – President Jacob Zuma. He’s even gone as far as calling those who booed JZ as being “infused by Satanism”, which makes them sound like a posh dish in a smart restaurant, to me. I would half expect him to add “…and served with a raspberry jus”. The rest of his quote compares Zuma to powerful elemental forces which cause widespread damage and misery, so perhaps we’re on the same page after all:

They will be defeated because President Jacob Zuma will not diminish because of the booing. He is a tsunami, more than a hurricane. All of their plans, infused in Satanism at best, will never succeed in the future because their plans are nothing else but filled with evil.

But this time, he’s gone too far. Because this time, he’s offended the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, and it’s never good to offend a Pagan Rights Alliance from any country. Apparently, it was this part of his speech in Nyanga last week that was particularly hurtful:

This thing of witchcraft is when a witch does nothing for the people but they still get re-elected. This is what we find ourselves in here in the Western Cape. We are being governed by witches. These witches are oppressing us, they are trampling on us. Where are the tokoloshes and the sangomas so that we can chase these witches away?

Helen Zille and the DA-led Provincial Government pretty much ignored him, as per usual, but SAPRA is up in arms, because – in what must come as a bit of a body blow to Premier Zille – they apparently find it rather demeaning to be compared to her. Here’s SAPRA director Damon Leff:

South African witches object strongly to inflammatory and offensive accusations of ‘witchcraft’ uttered by Mbalula and ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile.
SAPRA calls on the African National Congress and the ANC-led government to cease making accusations of witchcraft and to desist from using a political platform to incite witch-hunts against opposition political parties by denigrating the dignity and standing witches of South African citizens who are witches.

Riiiight, But there’s a serious side to this too, apparently, says Leff:

For a politician to make such a statement in a public platform could incite violence. A simple thing like that led to mass killings in Rwanda.

Well, no. Actually, it was the President’s plane being shot down, not the hyperbolic utterances of some loony communist one weekend. And given that SAPRA claims to represent around 100 individuals countrywide, and conservative estimates suggest that the Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of over 1,000,000, I’m not sure you can use it as a valid analogy anyway. For a start, the SAPRA members will be far more thinly spread across the country and surely no-one could afford the petrol to go and pay them each a visit.

Leff said SAPRA would like to remind Mbalula and Mjongile that according to the Witchcraft Suppression Act, accusations of witchcraft are punishable by a fine of up to R400 000 or up to 10 years imprisonment.

Right, so we have an Act to aimed at suppressing witchcraft (yes we do – and it’s hilarious), but under that Act you can’t actually say that someone is a witch. Anyone with me in thinking that this could be problematic when Constable Jacobs brings in an individual to his Warrant Officer?

“Yes, Jacobs. What is it?”
“I’ve brought this… lady in, Sir.”
“Right. And why have you brought her in?”
“Under the 1957 Act, Sir. She’s a… a… I mean, I have reason to believe that… well, you know…”
“No Jacobs, I don’t know. What are you on about?”
“She’s… I can’t say what I think she is, Sir. Legally, I mean.”
“What? Spit it out, Constable. I have doughnuts to eat.”
“You know, Sir. Eye of newt, toe of bat… Broomsticks. Black cats. [Whispers] Spells!”
“[Enlightened] Oh! You think she’s a wi… one of those! Right! Why didn’t you just say so? Oh, that’s right, you can’t. OK, put her in cell 4.”

Meanwhile, SAPRA claims to advocate for those 100 individuals who “identify their religion as witchcraft” – an admission that immediately puts them in breach of Section 1(d) of the above-mentioned Act. (See Barry, anyone can be like a lawyer.)

Colour me confused.

Anyway, Fikile isn’t going to apologise and says that his comments “should not be taken literally”.
Presumably, the populace is supposed to assume that this doesn’t extend quite as far as his “…so go and vote for the ANC next month” bit.

7 thoughts on “Say Sorry, Fikile!

  1. Damon > Thanks for the comment. Interesting subject and one I wanted to look into further when I found out about the WSA.
    And yes, a serious issue too. But let me get this straight: you represent witches and aim to protect others who are falsely accused of being witches?
    As an actively practicing non-believer in these sort of things, it seems like an odd remit to me.

  2. Yes, that’s correct. Our org. is a human rights CBO. We do not proselytize religion beyond advocating against religious prejudice and discrimination. We advocate against witch-hunts and satanic panic, because both represent a threat to religious freedom and both issues do affect our religious community (which is far larger than just our org membership).

  3. Damon Leff > Really interesting. Thanks for commenting. Always cool to have a protagonist comment on a post. 🙂

  4. Johan de Wet > Hmm. Perhaps. But I have time for individuals’ actions (whether they choose to base those actions on religion or anything else) if they are actually doing or attempting to do some good. And speaking out about witch-hunts and “satanic panic” cases – in which innocent individuals are being harmed – falls neatly into that category.

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