The Three Helens

When Helen Zille announced recently that she was not going to stand for the DA Leadership again this year, the reactions were many and varied. Colleagues used the opportunity to praise her good work for the party, opponents (generally quietly) celebrated and thinkpiece writers fell over themselves to write thinkpieces, having been starved of opportunities for years hours since the statue debacle and not knowing that the lucrative magic porridge pot of xenophobic attacks were just around the corner.
Very few people turned to the medium of poetry. And that, dear readers, was a shame.

Surely someone must have gone down the versificational route to express their feelings on this momentous event. Yeah, there was plenty of interpretive dance, but I was after metrical composition, and I could find none. In fact, it was only on page 2 of the esteemed Southern Suburbs Tatler that I found appropriate balladry documenting Zille’s decision. Only right, then, that having found Charlotte Caine of Claremont’s The Three Helens that I share it with you.
I’m on it. Doing it right now.


The Three Helens

Charming and friendly
Yet firm when she needs
With vision, courage and purpose
Is how this first lady leads

Voted “The Best Mayor in the World” [Is this going to scan? – Ed.]
Always giving her extraordinary all [No. No, it’s not. – Ed.]
She has always steered the way forward [Double use of ‘always’. – Ed.]
In showing us how to stand tall [Utterly dreadful. – Ed.]

She’s a person who knows how to plan
She’s a woman who knows how to work
No matter how arduous the task may be
She’ll face it; she will never shirk [Semi-colon = extra points. – Ed.]

She has gone from strength to strength
She stands above the crowd
She always goes the extra length [It’s ‘goes the extra mile’, ne? – Ed.]
She has made this country proud [Double rhyming couplet special bonus. – Ed.]

Completing an industrious trio of Helens
Helen Suzman, Helen Joseph, Helen Zille [Keller? Mirren? No? – Ed.]
With dedication, intelligence and determination
Each one a warrior; each one a winner [This doesn’t rhyme. Just saying. – Ed]

Helen Zille is a phenomenal woman
She has earned her place in history
She personifies an invincible spirit
And leaves an indomitable legacy


[Rather awkward and stumbled a bit towards the end. A bit like her, I suppose. – Ed.]


A couple of points here. Firstly, that since (I’m assuming) the Southern Suburbs Tatler must have been near inundated with several (or more) poems saying how great Helen Zille was, this is ever so slightly disappointing on the quality front. How poor were the others? Were the rest of them just racist outbursts from angry, privileged, Southern Suburbs, white-bearded men? Well, yes. Yes, they were.
This is surely the only reason for fielding these six stanzae.
And then secondly, that in this isibongo, there is no mention of Helen’s continual Twitter meltdowns. And yet this makes up at least [a lot] of her legacy, indomitable or otherwise. So here you go:

Of course she has her dark side too
Like when she rants on twitter
And calls Simphiwe Dana
An ill-informed, arrogant critter

Yeah, I know. It was rushed, inaccurate, it doesn’t scan, it’s rather forced and poorly laid out. Fits right on the end of Charlotte’s work perfectly then. Hashtag seamless.

I’m almost (almost) tempted to write a whole Helen Zille poem, but right now I have to go home and build a flat pack table (uThug Life) so that’ll just have to wait.

Enjoy your long weekend, SA. We’ll be back with more tomorrow. And the day after. And on Monday. No rest for the well wicked, innit?

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.

Friday’s Protest March: City taking things seriously, but too quietly?

Tomorrow’s protest march (or “prohibited event” as the city are quietly calling it) in Cape Town looks set to go ahead and will almost certainly be bigger than last month’s paltry 3,500 turnout. But whether the organisers will manage to get their somewhat optimistic estimate of 200,000 remains to be seen. I fully expect the Metro Police to tell us that there were 10,000 in town while Loyiso Nkohla and his Ogobityholo BaseKapa chums claim 3 million or something.

Either way, it’s reasonable to expect widespread disruption and – sadly – probably high levels of violence as well. And while the city has applied for an interdict to prevent the marchers from marching. This strikes me (no pun intended) as being a bit of a waste of time, since permission to march has already been denied and the organisers don’t seem to give a toss. I find it unlikely that they’ll suddenly have a change of heart when there’s an interdict against them.

Comrades! Let us take back this city! Let us show the White Madam that she cannot… wait… what? She’s got an interdict? OK. Never mind. Back to work everybody!

The Province claims to have done all they can to meet the demands of the organisers, and says that there is therefore no need for this action on Friday:

The Province has done everything that could be expected to engage with the leaders of Ogobityholo BaseKapa from the start of their campaign and we are willing to continue engaging with them on their issues of concern when presented in good faith. It should therefore be apparent that there is no reason for them to march on Friday, as our supposed “lack of engagement” was the claimed reason for their march.

But while the City is publicly being very quiet about the march and their preparations for it, there’s no doubt that a lot of planning is going on behind the scenes. Today’s Cape Times reports that there’s an internal memo doing the rounds:

It states that intelligence has been gathered by various agencies which suggests that march organisers have been mobilising people from Khayelitsha, Dunoon, Wallacedene and Brown’s farm in Philippi. Residents from informal settlements in Stellenbosch and Paarl are also believed to be joining the march.

The memorandum states that “looting has been encouraged at the planning meetings that have been taking place in the informal settlements. Organisers have suggested that food and Christmas presents will be easily available in the CBD for the marchers.”

More chillingly is the advice for emergency services and hospitals to prepare for large numbers of casualties:

Staff were also notified that “mass casualty resources” have to be checked and ready for deployment.


While this softly, softly approach is presumably about not giving the marchers much publicity, it’s certainly not doing the concerned citizens of the City any good. Helen Zille’s twitter timeline is filled with questions about whether people should come in to work tomorrow and whether any preparations have been made:

is there a strong possibility of a strike 2row?Is it advisable not 2 go to work 2row- if one works in town?

I own a showroom in central CT and am concerned about the rumored protests Fri. Will there be a police / army presence? Tx Barry

And who can blame them when that (publicly available) Provincial report contains this sort of information?

The Premier has written to the Mayor relaying information received from the State Security Agency that the protest march on Friday is deliberately intended to be violent. The organisers are planning various disruptions that include enforcing a work stay-away, stopping taxis and buses from operating and staging a three day sit-in outside the Provincial Legislature. The danger of random attacks on taxis, buses and commuters is therefore very real.

The information is that the organisers want this protest march to be accompanied by looting and attacks on businesses and commuters, although they plan to deny that this is their intention so that they can eschew responsibility for any violence and disruption that occurs.

If you’re going to make those sort of statements public, you also need to publicly reassure people that you’re doing something to prevent it happening and to keep them safe. That hasn’t been evident from the Province or the City as yet, so it’s natural that people are going to fear the worst about tomorrow in Cape Town.

Panic on the streets of Cape Town

Dublin, Dundee, Humberside.

Not really, obviously. That’s just a borrowed line from a song by The Smiths. I actually have no idea over the prevailing mindset of the residents of those latter three areas. But I do know that there is some concern mounting over a possible protest march in the CBD this coming Friday.
The reasons for this concern are twofold:

Firstly, the alleged protest is allegedly organised by the same guys that allegedly organised the last protest march in the CBD, at the end of October. That allegedly resulted in widespread criminal damage and looting of shops and informal traders in the centre of town and was only dispersed by the onset of a sudden rain shower, which apparently made the protesters realise that their grievances weren’t actually that grievous at all and they’d all rather head off to somewhere drier.

Secondly, the idea that the alleged march could turn nasty has been seized upon by doom-merchants and fearmongers in an effort to merch doom and monger fear. A digital pamphlet is being passed around on Facebook and by email, warning of “major traffic chaos” and “possible associated protests on the N2”, in much the same way as urban myths are shared by the same means. This plays right into the protesters’ hands, given that their only real objective is to disrupt normal life and get some publicity.

After the October 30th march, infamous alleged poo-flinger Andile Lili warned that there would be 250,000 at their next effort. Given that there were between 3,500 and 6,000 protesters on October 30th, this is either extremely optimistic on his part, or frankly rather worrying. Actually, perhaps it’s both.
Then add to that the fact that the alleged march has not been given permission to take place, given the problems of the previous one, and you have an interesting situation with Lili et al talking it up and the City not even acknowledging that anything might happen. At least, not publicly.

So who knows? To continue the tenuous musical links at the beginning of this post, it could be Del Amitri’s Nothing Ever Happens or it might all go a bit Kaizer Chiefs’ I Predict A Riot

You might argue that the protesters have already won, given the amount of concern and the number of changed plans that their alleged action has generated. But given the amount of damage that was caused last time out and the likely increase in numbers this time around, maybe they have their sights set on something a bit more spectacular than just making Cape Town’s Friday a bit difficult.

I’ll be watching from a distance. But will you be avoiding the CBD on Friday or will you run down, to the safety of the town?

Meanwhile, running our country…

Gotta love politicians, right? Right.

ANC MPs John Jeffrey and Buti Manamela are in trouble for comments they made regarding DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.

During a parliamentary budget vote on Wednesday, Jeffrey said: “While the honourable Mazibuko may be a person of substantial weight, her stature is questionable”.

While Manamela used her attire as an example of how everything – EVERYTHING – is blamed on Jacob Zuma:

Manamela’s comment was a reference to Mazibuko’s dress sense, saying that if she was arrested by the fashion police, the DA would blame President Jacob Zuma.

Cue complaints to the ANC Chief Whip and Jeffery withdrawing and apologising for his remark.

Also cue the SACP issuing this statement, featuring more comedy gold:

 The SACP contends there is nothing inherently sexist in the example made by Cde Manamela in parliament when he sought to explain how opportunistically the opposition blamed the President for things he didn’t have control of and indeed it is true that the President doesn’t choose Lindiwe Mazibuko’s clothes. This has nothing to do with being a man or a woman but with the fact that Lindiwe Mazibuko leads the opposition in parliament, an opposition that has resorted to a blame game.

Well, ok. So maybe the remark was misinterpreted. They weren’t being nasty about Lindiwe at all.
But then it continues:

Lindiwe Mazibuko is nothing else but a disrespectful kid who has used every single parliamentary debate to treat the President with disrespect and with a condescending attitude. Her level of disrespect has reached completely unacceptable levels. Cde Zuma besides being president is an elderly citizen and struggle hero who deserves to be treated with respect especially by young ones like Lindiwe.


Never mind. Just thank goodness these people aren’t in positions of authority and responsibility. Oh… wait…

But here come the ANC Women’s League, taking time away from praying for Madiba’s health with a very sensible statement on the whole matter:

We commend Jeffrey for acknowledging that his comments may have been misunderstood and for apologising. Parliament is no place for tit-for-tat games.

But then ruining it with:

the DA did it first and has not yet apologised: DA leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was yet to apologise for reportedly calling ANC MPL Zodwa Magwaza an elephant, neither had Theuns Botha, who likened Lynne Brown to a hippopotamus.

Zille’s was clever, referring to Magwaza as “the elephant in the room”, so actually technically not a direct insult and probably legit. Botha calling Lynne Brown a hippopotamus was slightly less defensible.

The playground will be open again after the long weekend.