OUT TO LUNCH
Eight years ago, just before my 60th birthday, I decided that it would be a good idea to move from Johannesburg to the Western Cape. I had travelled down to deliver a speech at a seminar in Cape Town and opted to spend a few more days away from home catching up with old friends and exploring the area.
Driving through the winelands near to where I now live I was struck by the beauty of the surroundings but, more importantly, by the fact that the place actually seemed to be functioning as a metropolis.
The grass verges were neatly mown, there was little if any litter on the side of the roads, there were no potholes and the towns of Stellenbosch and Somerset West seemed welcoming and safe to visit. What on earth am I doing in Johannesburg I thought to myself?
I had lived in Johannesburg for more than thirty years and my wife had lived there all her life. My regular morning walk from Parktown North to Zoo Lake had become steadily more depressing. The roads through the suburbs were potholed, piles of uncollected garbage and discarded building materials were dumped on the pavements for months, the kerb stones were smashed and the storm drains were blocked and the whole place seemed to be in a rapidly declining state of urban decay measurable by months.
When I visited a year ago and stayed at the Hyde Park Sun I went for a short walk to the Dunkeld shopping centre not far away. Entire chunks of pavement had been inexplicably dug up for whatever reason. Maybe to steal cables or maybe to install cables….who knew?
But suffice to say that the holes in the ground had been long deserted and were now full of discarded fast food containers, old plastic bags and other debris too ghastly to contemplate. All this in the lush northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
Reading an article by Giulietta Talevi in last week’s Financial Mail and following comments on Twitter it is abundantly clear that nothing has improved. In fact, things have become much worse and Johannesburg, with its utterly clueless ANC administration, is sinking ever further into what the former president of the US described as “shithole” status.
A few weeks ago stock exchange guru David Shapiro was lamenting on Twitter the fact that his son, a work from home father with three children, had been without electricity for six days. All attempts to report the fault had been fruitless or met with the response that the problem had been sorted, which it obviously hadn’t.
Similar stories are plentiful along with horrendous stories of overbilling for municipal services. When complaints are made either a completely fictitious reference number is given or the computer system is down at the time of complaint. This will be a familiar scenario to anybody wishing to renew a driving license or to apply for a driving test in Gauteng.
How is this possible? Well, that’s very simple to answer. When people are appointed to senior positions on the basis of their loyalty to the ruling party as opposed to any ability to do the job this is precisely what happens.
There is no accountability so junior staff can’t see any point in doing the job they are paid to do because their immediate superiors are already setting a bad example.
Then, as systems collapse and the situation worsens two things make it impossible for anything to improve. Firstly, the idle and clueless cadres are still in charge and so there’s no reason to make an effort and secondly the money runs out which provides the ideal excuse to do nothing. The COVID-19 defence is always a useful back up.
Our move to the Western Cape in 2013 was like moving from a third world country to a first world country. As I write this, the R44 from Somerset West to Stellenbosch is being upgraded and widened in parts. The R310 off-ramp from the N2 to Stellenbosch was completed recently and, unlike Johannesburg, the inconvenience is minimal and the job doesn’t just get abandoned half way through.
The stark truth is that the Western Cape works but that’s all thanks to the Democratic Alliance who currently run the show. The white woke media, many of them resident in the Western Cape, are not at all fond of the DA and would like to drive them out of power at next year’s local elections and replace them with either the ANC or the EFF.
Quite what sort of a world the likes of Adriaan Basson and Max du Preez wish for future generations is beyond my comprehension but I’m pretty certain they will be the first to complain when rubbish piles up outside their homes and the roads start to disintegrate.
If the Western Cape, heaven forbid, falls under the control of the corrupt ANC then we may as well abandon all hope for SA. The only province with a clean audit record will have fallen and the looting will begin. But at least the country will have moved closer to equality…. albeit equality of poor service, squalor and poverty. And that is what seems to matter most to the DA’s most vociferous media critics.
Last week The Daily Friend, the SA Institute of Race Relations’ webpage, ran an article by Ivo Vegter asking why it was that Africans who were keen to lobby for the decolonization of things like the school syllabus and the laws of gravity hadn’t also lobbied for the decolonization of Christianity. The article caused much comment and offended many readers with Christian beliefs. So much so that the IRR published an editorial under the title ‘Too important a debate to be stifled’ claiming:
“This is the essence of debate: allowing opposing views to be aired so that readers can make up their own minds. The IRR believes that rather offence be given and hotly rebutted than that any subject be avoided on the grounds of ‘sanctity’.”
This is the ultimate test of freedom of expression, the fundamental tenet at the core of classical liberalism. In the IRR’s view, if you stifle freedom of expression, freedom itself is threatened”.
This certainly wasn’t my experience earlier this year after I had posted a deliberately provocative tweet about how we needed a new ‘K’ word … to replace “kleptomaniac”. As I expected, many fools rushed in to assume the K word in question was the banned one, thereby exposing their own ‘racism’.
Woke, cancel culture twitter went wild and the IRR buckled under the pressure by summarily firing me as a Daily Friend columnist. Ivo Vegter, the author of the latest offending piece, was one of those who led the charge.
The IRR could have behaved in a civilized fashion and first given me a hearing (they misunderstood the Tweet). If that had not satisfied them they could have asked for my resignation, or have quietly announced that the Daily Friend would no longer be carrying my column on a Sunday. Instead they opted for maximum publicity in an attempt to discredit me and cause as much public humiliation as possible.
While it’s heartening to learn that the flip-flopping IRR once again support classical liberalism and espouse freedom of expression one cannot help feeling that the only reason Vegter got away with things is that the Christian howling twitter mob aren’t nearly as scary as the Woke howling twitter mob. As one Daily Friend reader mischievously suggested, maybe Vegter would like to indulge in a bit of Islam bashing next week and see how that pans out.
My esteemed colleague Andrew Donaldson wrote about Julius Malema last week and lamented the fact that some other wag had thought up the sobriquet “Kiddy Amin”.
In a column published on 9 March 2010 (“Julius Malema’s Erectile Dysfunction”-Page 173 in Out to Lunch Ungagged) I compared Juju to Idi Amin. A few months later another column appeared on 4 July 2020 (“Isn’t it nice and quiet without Julius Malema?” – Page 218 in Out to Lunch Ungagged) in which I referred, for the first time I believe, to Julius (Kiddie Amin) Malema. I’m delighted that the name has stuck and enjoyed such longevity.
However, although I was the first to popularise it in print I cannot claim authorship. ‘Kiddie Amin’ was the witty invention of Mervyn Dendy, a worryingly intelligent advocate friend of mine who came up with it during one of our monthly rock ‘n roll evenings where much amber liquid was consumed and loud raucous music was played. Like Andrew, I also wish I had thought of it first.