Out with the old Frogboiler, in with new Pres. Ramaphosa

David Bullard writes on the strange and unfamiliar sense of optimism he experienced over the past week


I have in the past compared Cape Talk’s John Maytham to Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ seminal work ‘The

Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’. I think the word ‘seminal’ is appropriate here because I now own a car that obediently responds to my voice commands much as Douglas Adams predicted.

Last Tuesday, having nothing better to do, I tuned into Maytham’s afternoon show just after 3pm to hear him confessing how depressed he was in the run up to the promised GNU and how the political news was really taking its toll on him and so he was going to blather on about birds.

If you’re going to say this sort of thing on a publicly available radio station the least you could do just before the 3pm Eyewitness News is to warn those of a nervous disposition that they may need a handful of Prozac pills to get through the next few hours.

Pippa Hudson normally precedes Maytham in the afternoon and she is a delight to listen to. On this particular day she was taking a ‘sickie’ (as they say in Aussie), and Zain Johnson was very ably holding the fort. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

However, the transition from entertaining and psychologically unchallenging radio fare to a prompt to slit your wrists all within the space of about twenty minutes tends, rather like hanging, to concentrate the mind. Is life worth living I found myself asking after I listened to Maytham’s introductory rant?

I still have a CD of the original ‘Hitch-Hikers Guide’ programmes which were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (when it still had a sense of humour) in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. So, I sought out Marvin’s entry, voiced by Stephen Moore, and sure enough his first line is “I think you ought to know, I’m feeling very depressed”, followed by “I’m not getting you down at all am I?” and “Life, don’t talk to me about life” .... lines that could have just as convincingly sprung from Maytham’s thespian lips.

I might have wallowed in Maytham’s slough of despond had not a friend notified me that she had managed to find some maraschino cherries in syrup for me. This may seem trivial to you but for at least three years now I have been searching for these blighters to go with my expertly mixed Manhattan cocktails (two parts Rye Whiskey or Bourbon, one part Martini Rosso and a generous dash of Angostura bitters stirred and poured over ice in a whisky tumbler).

Thus bucked by this news I found myself, unlike the hapless Maytham, decidedly gruntled as the week wore on and the news just got better and better. Particularly for those of us who live in the Western Cape.

Now, I am aware that there are still those who claim to be well respected political analysts warning us not to get too excited about what we have just witnessed. But it is so long since I have had anything to celebrate in this country that I am prepared to grab what we have been given in the past week with both hands in the fervent hope that this may actually be a new dawn.

So, from now on I will be dropping all reference to Pres Frogboiler and wiping the slate clean. It is Pres Ramaphosa, the head of our seventh democratically elected government from now on.

I have been forced to eat humble pie. I have always suggested that the ANC would be bad losers in the event of election defeat and would do a ZANU-PF on the country. This they haven’t done and, much as the 15% drop in support must have hurt them, they have accepted the election results like true professionals and moved on to form an administration with competing parties to run the country. Whether it becomes a government of national unity remains to be seen but the initial intentions have been exemplary.

Mondli Makhanya writing in City Press on Sunday said:

“Since the birth of our democratic republic in 1994, there have been doomsday warnings that the real test of the ANC’s commitment to constitutional democracy would come when the party was faced with the loss of power.

It was a view based purely on the racist belief that black Africans and democracy did not mix.”

I have to respectfully disagree with him on that last sentence though. It had nothing to do with the mischievous comment ‘ the racist belief that black Africans and democracy did not mix’ and everything to do with empirical evidence; the best example being our neighbour Zimbabwe. By all means move further north should you need further evidence.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we really were starting out on a journey to remake this shattered country? To kickstart the economy by getting rid of all the impediments to starting a business or attracting foreign investment. To make sure that anyone studying hard at university has a decent chance of getting a job. To concentrate on service delivery for the poorest of the poor without sneering at those who are glibly labelled ‘privileged’. It is, after all, the so-called ‘privileged’ who pay the taxes that would allow the poor to be offered a better life.

However, most important, and item number one on Pres Ramaphosa’s list of things to do should be rounding up all those scumbags exposed by diligent investigative journalists and fingered by Chief Justice Zondo and getting them into orange overalls as soon as possible. This action alone would boost the Rand and convince foreign investors that South Africa was a country worth doing business with.

What needs to happen as a matter of urgency now is that a separate system of courts needs to be set up to hear corruption cases without the usual delays we are used to. The special Corruption Courts could draw on the unbiased talents of overseas jurists (obviously getting the skin colour balance right) and cases should take no longer than three days to be heard given the overwhelming evidence against most.

The right of appeal would not exist because this would be abused and just delay all proceedings. Those found guilty should not be treated as normal prisoners but should be put to work cleaning up townships, repairing potholes, delivering food to the hungry and generally serving a penance for their greed.

Obviously their ill gotten gains would be seized by the state and redistributed to the needy. The convicted would not be held in a prison cell but would be tagged with a microchip and be forced to live among those they have betrayed over the past thirty years.

Once the corrupt have been flushed out to serve time doing something worthwhile for society then we can all look forward to a bright future: whatever John Maytham may say.


The UK has something called the ‘Monster Raving Loony Party’ which, since 1982, has been contesting elections; without too much success it has to be said. In SA we have the MK and the EFF who, although more successful at the polls, tend to be the nearest equivalent we have here on the southern tip to the Monster Raving Loony Party (MRLP).

Some of the MRLP manifesto promises are almost as hilarious as some of the MK and EFF manifesto promises. For example, the MRLP want everyone to be renamed Chris to reduce the chance of identity theft. This isn’t nearly as barmy as wanting to seize all property and distribute it exclusively to party members.

Another feature of the MRLP is that their candidates dress eccentrically. But who could possibly beat our very own Carl Niehaus who was resplendent in red overalls, black wellington boots, a red hard hat and a pro-Palestine keffiyeh as he was sworn in as a member of parliament. Some have expressed horror that their tax money will go towards enabling Carl to put food on the table for the next five years. But, on the bright side, his mother won’t need to die yet again and he is guaranteed to be worth the price in sheer entertainment value.