All about “The Shutdown”

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.

And then there were the veiled threats. Shut your business or it might get looted. Shut down your airport – or else:

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.

Oh, and the video of Adderley Street in Cape Town, now supposedly in Pretoria.

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.

Day 588, part 2 – Does advertising work? – a comprehensive study

I was over on Robben Island last week, on a trip well-documented on this blog. Robben Island doesn’t have many residents: it does vary depending on what’s going on on the island , but probably fewer than 120 on an average day. That doesn’t mean that their voting right should be forgotten though, and indeed, they can vote on the island – which is part of Cape Town’s Ward 54 – at the John Craig Hall (it’s named after one of the harbour engineers).

While we were staying over, some election posters appeared outside. There must have been about 25 of them down the road from the prisons into the village. All for one party. So nice to see a happy face.

(I’ve chosen to leave those unused 9.2inch WW2 shells – now used as road bollards – in shot. Seemed appropriate.)

Otherwise, it seemed like the island had been passed over in terms of the election. Which was quite nice, actually. No-one needs more election news. Ever.

Anyway, with 92% of the votes counted at the time of writing, the DA have held onto the city, with over 60% of the vote:

But look at that: a cursory glance will show you that the EFF recorded the most votes at just 2 (two) voting stations across the entire metropole: at UWC – those pesky young firebrands! – and… wow… John Craig Hall on Robben Island!

With just 31 votes in their favour (vs 19 for the ANC, 5 for the DA, 2 each for the ACDP and the VF+ and a whole 1 for the LAND party) (and none for Patricia de Lol)…

…it might have cost almost a poster per cross in the box, and is totally overwhelmed by the 92% voting for the DA in Camp’s Bay et al. but the result is there for all to see.

Robben Island is red.

From this, we can conclude that advertising clearly does work, and the Ad Wizardry of putting up 25 posters on a chunk of rock 6km from civilisation… was probably (possibly) almost certainly worth the effort.


The state of politics in this country is every bit as bad as the state of politics elsewhere.

Equally, the quality of the media in this country is every bit as poor as the quality of media elsewhere.

It doesn’t make for a pretty scenario. We’re left drifting rudderless with no compass to guide us. But when the sniping of one at another begins, it does make for some wonderful soundbites.

Local political party, the EFF, is known for its hyperbole, grandiose language and wild claims. Its recently released manifesto was a great example of all three of the above and was (apparently, at least) taken to task by local journo Rebecca Davis. No, I haven’t read this particular article, for reasons detailed below.

In fairness to the EFF, their manifesto is probably only a little more pie-in-the-sky than that of any other political party running any other election campaign. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be called out on any  (alleged) inaccuracies it might contain.

EFF deputy clown Floyd Shivambu paraphrases Ali G in his predictable “it iz becoz she iz white, innit?” response:

She accuses the manifesto of being a dishonest document. But in reality, she is the one who is being dishonest, because the people’s manifesto and a clear detailed plan of action has details such that it is the first of its kind, something even Davis has not seen in a manifesto. She’s blinded by class and possibly racist prejudices which seek to provide a critique before she reads and understands.

But Davis has some friends who are black, so I’m pretty sure this can’t be true.

Indeed, I don’t agree with very much that the EFF spout, but this line hit home.

Pitiful, whatever. Abysmal, la di dah.

But “claptrap disguised as analysis” sums up SO VERY MUCH of what is written in the SA (or in worldwide) media these days. And yes, I’m aware that some of you might feel that this blog post falls neatly into that category as well, but I’m not being paid for this, so you probably shouldn’t have been expecting any level of professionalism like what you might get from a journalist.

Sadly, standards (especially locally) have fallen so far that everything one reads in the local press should probably be regarded as incorrect until proven otherwise.

Political manifestos should always be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s sad that any given story you read on any given news site these days has to be treated the same way.

In my humble opinion you’re probably best staying well clear of either.

Good advice from the EFF

There’s no political party that speaks for me. Some have good ideas (some don’t), some have decent people working within them (some don’t), some are doing a good job (some aren’t).

They all have their drawbacks.

Much like all the others, the EFF obviously sees itself as the voice of a certain group of people. I am not one of them. A situation that I think suits us both. It doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy their press releases though. Such as this one from the Gauteng branch, complaining that some troublemakers are up to no good.

Fighters must always be super vigilant by not allowing nefarious elements to infiltrate our structures on the ground as an attempt to delegitimise our revolutionary and radical programmes… All Fighters must guard against mischief; protect the movement and its wholesome integrity, across the province.

Thing is, while it’s comical (jou ma se “wholesome integrity”) and full of self-important and reactionary rhetoric, I quite like the idea behind it.

Apply this – not to EFF ground staff, but to your life – and suddenly it makes a whole lot more sense. None of us should be letting nefarious elements infiltrate our structures, sullying our good name and delegitimising our actions. Christians do this sort of thing with Satan. Same same.

Also, ensure that your uninfiltrated structures know how organised programmes of your organisation are organised: as the EFF in Gauteng tell us:

Structures of the EFF know how programmes of the organisation are organised.

You can’t put it more simply than that. And talking of communication, make sure that mostly all of the programmes you’re doing is verifiable. No point in unverified programmes.

Mostly, all our programmes are verifiable with all [uninfiltrated] structures of the leadership of the [organised] organisation.

Mostly, all my blog posts are great.


Keep on keeping on, EFF.
Your media statements continue to be a joy to read.


Bit of a weird one, this. Weird because I’m writing something about a very fluid situation and I’m writing it four days ago*. So it might not make any sense by the time you read it. Hell, it might not make any sense by the time I’ve written it. I’m struggling already and we’re only 50-odd words in.

Today is supposed to be a day of national protest in South Africa. Well, as I’m writing this (four days ago), it is. It’s also a normal day of work (except it obviously won’t be) and right now no-one seems to know what to expect, save maybe for the Presidency and chums ignoring whatever protests do occur.

The thing is, South Africa is such a diverse and divided nation that any coherent mass protest action is terribly difficult to organise. While individual political parties and organisations can raise their own demos, no-one has really managed to successfully mobilise across all racial, political and social classes. And that’s why JZ and friends have happily got away with it all so far. It’s also why things need to change if today’s action is to have any effect.

Look, there’s enough support for the protest, but it’s completely fragmented. Already, as I am writing this (four days ago, remember) people – supposedly on the ‘same side’ – are questioning the basis for people’s anger, arguing and fighting about the legitimacy of some protesters with superb logic like: “if you didn’t protest against (a) then you can’t protest against (b)”. Because obviously there are rules for being allowed to express your viewpoint on any given subject.

It’s a phat, public mess and Zuma must be loving every minute of it.

Obviously, people need to look past their individual grievances and try to find common ground if this is to have any chance of working. And I do recognise that that is much easier to say than to do.

I believe that there are many reasons for getting rid of this rotten, corrupt regime. Whatever yours is, today is a day – even more than any other – when you need to recognise and respect that others may have their own reasons too.


* All will become clear on this bit tomorrow.