Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Famous Grouse: May 21

Better late than never, herewith, as submitted to the newspaper, my Weekend Argus column for that first Saturday after the elections. . .-- AD

WELL, that is that, then. All over bar the shouting. And it’s a big rousing, to-the-winner-not-always-the-spoils kind of consolatory cheer for the Abolition of Income Tax and Usury Party who managed to get a couple of hundred votes in the Western Cape.

It’s not much, I know. But it’s a start. And who can say what the future holds for the people who think that revenue collection by governments is a Marxist invention and should be done away with?

The same could be said for the Dagga Party, which had hoped to win at least one ward somewhere in the province. Sadly nothing of the sort happened. Which is a pity, really. All jokes aside -- and there’ve been quite a few as far as the Dagga Party is concerned -- the case for the decriminalisation of marijuana is moral and just and should be taken up by the larger parties.

But that, as they say, is another story.

Right now, we’re concerned with a more probable future, not some weird stuff that happens when you smoke polio weed.

As far as the country’s smaller parties are concerned, it’s fair to say that anything can happen. Just look at the dramatic growth in support for the Democratic Alliance, and you’ll understand that our political landscape is in a constant state of flux, a great bowl of soup forever bubbling away on the back burner.

Well, about 40% of it anyway. The ruling party continues to rule most of the country’s metros and municipalities.

But not here, of course, and this evening at the Mahogany Ridge, we will no doubt be raising a consoling glass or two to big loser Tony Ehrenreich, the ANC’s mayoral candidate, and say, ag, shame, but then the campaign he chose to run had a bit too much in common with the general tenor of those thrown out with considerable tedium by that other Tony from a while ago, Tony Leon.

Unlike the former leader of the DA though, Ehrenreich came across as slightly more magnanimous in defeat than Leon. As a Ridge regular put it, he seemed like a decent sort, even quite ethical.

Perhaps, but the klap that Ehrenreich got at the polls was his first really big political defeat. We should remember that Leon was always losing, and was very good at it -- he could do that constantly trailing a distant second with the same flair that Danny DeVito brings to being short, he was that much a natural.

Should he become more accustomed to losing it could well be the case that Ehrenreich may find it expedient to ditch the valiant runner-up schtick in favour of a more convenient and perhaps comfortable surliness.

And it could be sooner than expected. If what I read in the newspapers is true, he has “hinted” that he may run for premier of the Western Cape as early as 2014.

This time, though, perhaps he’ll be nicer to voters before they cast their votes, and only once he’s safely seen Helen Zille’s goods carted out of Leeuwenhof should he start calling them racist and frightening them with talk of dumping the homeless in the leafy suburbs of the rich buggers and tearing up their bicycle paths.

But on to other matters as we must. We have been following with some interest the hate speech case against Julius Malema, about whom the less said at the moment, the better.

Malema’s lawyer, Vincent Maleka, has put forward an interesting suggestion about Dubula iBhunu, the controversial song that is at the heart of this tedious business. According to reports, the song doesn’t exhort its listeners to “shoot the boer”. That, Maleka has claimed, was a “media translation”.

Who or what exactly is now being identified as a target for shooting is not known. Maleka has apparently been dragging his feet in revealing this crucial aspect of his case in closing arguments before the Johannesburg High Court -- maybe he is being paid by the hour -- and such details, alas, were not available at the time of writing.

However I can reveal that considerable time and effort was spent in convincing the court that the meaning of “ibhunu” had, in fact, changed dramatically from 1994 to 1995. Quite how this happened has escaped me, and perhaps we shall learn more of this mysterious process in the days to come.

What is clear, though, is that, in a judgment in a separate case before the Johannesburg High Court this week, the publication and chanting of “Dubula iBhuna” was declared an incitement to murder. But who? That is the question. . .

* Anton Hammerl. Cheers, buddy. All strength, condolences and love to Penny and family.

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