What is it about aspirational South African opposition parties and the names they choose? In the run up to the last general election we had the ANC breakaway party jointly led by Mosiuoa (Terror) Lekota and Mbhazima (are those cigars free?) Shilowa. I thought at the time that it was an odd marriage but it took only a few months to deteriorate to a point that would have made Charles (Arty-choker)Saatchi and Nigella Lawson look like a loving couple by comparison.
The name they chose was Congress of the People which sounds perfectly credible if you say it slowly. So much so that you might even have been tempted to vote for them, despite the lacklustre leadership. Once they became more widely known as COPE though all credibility was blown. Heaven knows which brand guru advised them but surely they could have foreseen that the name would lead to all manner of mockery.
At the height of their organisational struggles I referred to them as COPE LITE but that was mild compared to other unflattering derivations. It soon became pretty apparent that COPE couldn't cope. They couldn't even sort out the infighting within their own ranks so how on earth could they be expected to run a country? Or even a province? No hope for COPE. You see what I mean about it being a name that just invites derision?
Now we have Agang, which is a Sotho word meaning "to build" according to Wikipedia. Nothing wrong with that except that most people won't necessarily remember the significance when some smartarse young journo reports on a bumper bashing at an election rally with the headline "Agang Bang". As a party name it is has all sorts of disadvantages. It doesn't mean anything to most people, it's massively open to sub editorial abuse and it sounds like you're clearing your throat of phlegm when you say it properly.
Which is why I've decided to call my new party the South African Patriotic Alliance or SAPA. That way we can guarantee a mention in the media virtually every day. Followers of this column in its various post Sunday Times incarnations will know that the idea is not entirely new. I have punted it before to great acclaim and I may even have previously called it the South African People's Alliance. I changed my mind about that because I don't want just anyone thinking they're welcome to vote for us at the next election.
Obviously I am the leader of the party at the moment but as membership numbers swell I will be elevating myself to the position of Life Chairman of SAPA and inviting others to do all the hard work.
I'm currently working on the election manifesto and I have to say it has much in common with my good friend Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighter declared electoral objectives. Put simply, anything that Julius has said EFF will do then we will do the opposite.
For example, we will sell off all state assets to the highest bidder. I don't think politicians make good businessmen because there is too much temptation to rig deals and pocket bribes. SAPA intends to remove that temptation. We also intend to go back to all those spivs who flogged us overpriced fighter jets, submarines and what have you and ask them to buy them back please. After all, they've not even been used. We know we're going to take a knock on the deal but if we can get back even half of the billions that were spent on unwanted weaponry then we can start building decent homes and schools for our people.
Being slightly to the right of mainstream politics in SA (our slogan is "because you know we're right") we expect some flak from all those free loading lefties doing non jobs in academic institutions and quasi government organisations. When SAPA comes to power all non economically productive jobs will have to be sanctioned by the party chairman. So people who claim to be directors of the Institute for Research into Democracy (or similar nonsense) will either have to justify their existence or find a real job.
A unique selling feature of SAPA is that our members of parliament will not draw a salary. They will be expected to be independently wealthy which is why they will have the time and energy to devote to the upliftment of others. They will obvioulsy be able to claim reasonable expenses and will enjoy free air travel on official business.
Neither will they get free cars or houses. What job offers not one but two expensive executive cars to people of unproven ability? We will be getting rid of that nonsense and saving the tax payer a fortune. If you haven't got your own wheels then you can't become a SAPA candidate. It's as simple as that.
Twitter, Facebook and all the other fripperies of the cyber age will be closed down under a SAPA government and people will be encouraged to interact with one another on a personal level instead, using their real names rather than calling themselves something daft like @RobertinSydney. We believe that this will lead to a far more balanced and happy nation because the tedious minutiae of very dull people's lives will no longer be on public display 24/7.
Tobacco and alcohol advertising will enjoy government sponsorship and SAPA will insist on every town having a pub where you can smoke and drink at the same time. Speed limits on motorways will be lifted to 200km/h and taxi drivers will have a dedicated lane with a top speed limit of 80km/h.
We make no promises to create jobs because that's not what governments are supposed to do. What we will do though is rip up all the current labour legislation and let market forces decide. Let's face it, we might be new to government but we can't make a bigger hash of things than the current bunch surely.
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