Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Famous Grouse: May 14

It's a bit late, but here as submitted to the Weekend Argus, is my pre-election column. -- AD

IT IS no secret here at the Mahogany Ridge that, after years of watching them root about in the slops, my loathing for politicians is well nigh absolute.

I’ve come to expect nothing but the worst from them, particularly in the weeks ahead of an election when we are assailed at every turn by the thieving swine who smile at us in the manner of a paedophile offering sweets to children.

Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the repugnant manner in which the ANC has behaved in the past few weeks.

Given that, thanks in particular to the efforts of the youth league, the overarching metaphor of the polls is the open toilet, it is hardly surprising that the tenor of their campaign was that of a broken sewer.

It was the youngsters who led the charge at Makhaza, in Khayelitsha, where they seized the open commode as if it were the Holy Grail -- and how gratifying that, having gorged themselves at its porcelain rim, the party is now finding it something of a poisoned chalice.

A fortnight ago the newspapers were full of their crowing after the Western Cape High Court ruling by Judge Nathan Erasmus that the agreement between the City and the Makhaza settlement over the construction of the unenclosed toilets was unlawful.

As ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu put it: “Not only is this landmark judgment a vindication of the long-held ANC view shared by many people, particularly the poor black working class of the Western Cape, that the DA is a racist political party only committed to protecting the last vestiges and policies of apartheid, but that its building of unenclosed toilets in Makhaza shows total disrespect for black dignity.”

Dignity itself was up next, in the form of Julius Malema.

“Spread the message,” he announced from the court steps. “We are here today to bring down Helen Zille. Convince everybody here to vote for the ANC. This is a victory for the people of Cape Town and the Western Cape. But I promise that the DA will not abide by the ruling; it will be up to Tony (Ehrenreich) to fix the toilets because the DA doesn’t care about poor people. But we can get rid of that racist Zille by voting for the ANC on the May 18 elections.”

A pity, then, that he didn’t bother to pay much attention to the actual contents of the Erasmus judgment, which pointed out, right from the get-go -- in its third paragraph, in fact -- that, far from winning, the people of Cape Town were, in this particular regard, the losers in this shameful, undignified business.

To wit: “In this matter we have seen, various government organisations litigating on opposing sides at a high cost to the tax payer. The Mayor of the City of Cape Town Mr Dan Plato and second applicant, Mr Andile Lili, who purports to be a political leader and an Executive member of the African National Congress Youth League, simply failed to rise above their political contest as opposed to their duty towards those that need to benefit the poor and vulnerable.”

Shame on them.

But then came the reports from the Free State of the open toilets in a township near Viljoenskroon, in the ANC-run Moqhaka municipality.

Clearly embarrassed, a high-powered ANC delegation, which included Free State premier Ace Magashule, housing and settlements minister Tony Yengeni and sports minister Fikilele Mbalula as well as Malema, raced to Rammulotsi with foreign and local press in tow in a desperate and pathetic attempt at damage control.

There was a revealing photograph in the dailies. It showed Malema declaiming before what appeared to be a broken loo in the exaggerated manner of the Victorian melodrama. Mbalula, behind him, looked on in shock and awe. All it needed were cartoon speech bubbles: “What is this shit?” “Our arses on a plate, methinks.”

Perhaps the most surprised of all, though, were the people of Rammulotsi. They’d long since given up hope. The toilets were built in 2003. That was three national elections ago. And now only the authorities show up, pretending to give a damn?

But, not long now, and that will all be behind us, all the bilge about cockroaches and dancing like monkeys, all the racism, the spite and the hatred, the moronic spew about white people being thieves and criminals, and all that will remain after Wednesday will be the posters, flapping off poles like the broken wings of dead birds after a violent storm.

And the people of Rammulotsi? They’ll just be a distant memory by next week. Who really cares about them? The ANC? I think not.

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