Jacob Zuma came to power backed by the SACP, by Cosatu, by the ANCYL, by disparate regional power-blocks and business groups who saw an opportunity to get the benefits of being at the high table, and by democrats within the ANC who believed Mbeki had become authoritarian and/or unresponsive to the changing requirements of the situation (with his failure to grapple with the HIV/AIDs question his most obvious failing.) This alliance of interests and groups has long since fragmented (with the trajectories of Malema and Vavi the most visible signs of this), but the SACP remains up close and personal with Zuma, his family, his business friends and the security agencies he keeps firmly under his wing. That it is the SACP who has said: ‘let’s chase these Numsa fellows out’ is not a surprise, as the SACP is one of the main beneficiaries of the rise of Jacob Zuma … an attack on Zuma is an attack on the SACP. – Nic Borain
Quote of the week
Naked but for the towel around his waist, a man of a certain age sat by himself, bent slightly forward as if praying, in a corner of the sauna at a gym in central Rome. I had not met this man before, but as I entered the sauna, I thought I recognized him from photographs. He looked like a priest with whom I’d corresponded after mutual friends put us in touch, a man I had wanted to consult about gay clerics in the Vatican Curia. My friends told me that this priest was gay, politically savvy, and well connected to the gay Church hierarchy in Rome. But this couldn’t be that priest. He had told me that he’d be away and couldn’t meet. Yet as I looked at the man more closely, I saw that it was definitely him. When we were alone, I spoke his name, telling him mine. “I thought you were out of the country,” I said. “How lucky for me: you’re here!” Startled, the priest talked fast. Yes, his plans had changed, he said, but he was leaving again the next day and would return only after I was gone. – Micheal Joseph Gross in Vanity Fair on “gay cabal” in the Vatican
In Snowden’s view, the traditional forms of oversight—secret one-sided courts and closed congressional or parliamentary committees—are inadequate, not least because they have only partial information and poor technical understanding and are frequently misled. He may have had in mind such moments as when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in March that the NSA did not intentionally collect “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans. That turned out not to be true. Clapper later justified his response as the “least untruthful answer” he could give. Which Orwell would surely have regarded as a doubleplusgood answer. – Alan Rushbridger in the New York Review of Books
Italy is what happens when a country knows full well what its problems are but can’t summon the discipline and will to fix them. It’s what happens when political dysfunction grinds on and on and good governance becomes a mirage, a myth, a joke. Italy coasts on its phenomenal blessings rather than building on them and loses traction in a global economy with more driven competitors. Sound familiar? There’s so much beauty and promise here, and so much waste. Italy breaks your heart. And it’s not all Silvio Berlusconi’s doing. – Frank Bruni in the New York Times
Meanwhile, Van Schalkwyk plans to extend the Sho’t Left campaign and encourage supply-side diversification. Now rumours are circulating that he has identified four niche opportunities for heritage product development. The first involves an expansion of cultural tourism. The present bias in favour of “African cultural villages” in rural areas has been revisited. The Sho’t Left campaign will instead showcase a “Red October Show” in which bare-breasted popular icons Steve Hofmeyr and Dan Roodt will blend traditional music and the “weed dance” to expose the “inhumane slaughter and oppression” of the white Afrikaner. In order to attract the burgeoning black middle class, a new theme park in Cape Town’s southern suburbs will enable visitors to view “Constantia ladies” in their natural habitat and reveal the mystery of what they do all day. A proposed Gupta Compound tour will incorporate Saxonwold helicopter rides, bush sightings of furtive ministers, and much-sought-after free copies of The New Age newspaper. – Anthony Butler, having fun in his column in Business Day
According to Red October, white South Africans are an ‘Ethnic Minority’ who are experiencing ‘inhumane Slaughter and Oppression’ (yes, the caps are in the original). In phrasing that could be lifted directly from the liberation years, the ‘people of South Africa’ will ‘no longer be silent’. ‘Other minority groups’ (one wonders which ones) will join ‘in a show of solidarity’ against the government’s failure to enforce our ‘rights’ and provide all citizens with a ‘free, fair and safe country’. Not only that, but they’ve exhumed poor Edmund Burke’s aphorism about evil flourishing while good men do nothing, a somewhat ironic choice for a demographic that spent the worst years of the struggle braaiing by its pools and inspecting its maids for signs of communism. – Nicky Falkof in a column on Daily Maverick on the disturbing “Red October” campaign.
“President Obama waived a ban on arming terrorists in order to allow weapons to go to the Syrian opposition. Your listeners, US taxpayers, are now paying to give arms to terrorists including Al Qaeda. … This happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists, now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history. … Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand,” – Michele Bachmann, a sitting member of the US Congress.
On the other end of the scale, the recent launch of Freedom Fridays by LeadSA – a fairly socially conservative campaign led by media outlets to encourage South Africans to be better citizens (whatever they may mean by that) – and the Department of Arts and Culture exhorts South Africans to wear something every Friday that symbolises their love for the country. Both Braai Day and Freedom Day are problematic. Whatever the good intentions of its founders, Braai Day transforms Heritage Day into yet another opportunity for supermarkets to make quite a lot of money (in much the same way that Women’s Day has become another version of Mothers’ Day). And Freedom Friday promotes an unthinking patriotism, which ignores South Africa’s far-from-uncomplicated political and social trajectory post-1994. The fact that it was launched six months before a general election can’t be harmful either. Indeed, both elide South Africa’s deeply conflicted past: for all their enthusiasm for “heritage”, there’s very little history in how these two initiatives explore and redefine what it is to be South African. – Sarah Emily Duff on Heritage Day at Slipnet
Who cares? Who cares, who cares, who cares? I’m not saying who cares about the show — I’m saying this is becoming the point of the show. What makes Breaking Bad one of the most moral shows in the history of television is that actions have consequences, whether those actions arise from pain or greed or fear or panic. You pay for your actions, not the operation of your heart. The psychoanalytical journey we could all choose to take — and that most of us have taken — with Walt is a bloodless exercise. It is a luxury afforded to people who can see selfishness and wickedness and violence in the abstract, the way you can when it’s on television. What these final episodes are doing is showing no mercy, because evil shows no mercy. That’s not “Evil Shows No Mercy” in a tattoo-it-on-your-arm kind of way; that’s reality. That’s the reality of the fact that the reason to be a moral person is, in part, that brutal acts of violence do not take place inside a cage where the only ones hurt are the ones who deserve it — rats, or finks, or phonies, or fools. When you embrace doing whatever you want in order to get what you want, you cannot isolate the consequences. This is not a show that will ever be revealed to take place inside a snow globe; it’s a show where everything spills everywhere. – Linda Holmes on Breaking Bad
Obliviousness is a social menace. It is the pampered feet in the comfortable boots that march roughshod over the lived experiences of others, the whole time believing it is engaged in some form of “doing good”; that it isn’t sexist, racist, homophobic, or bigoted in any way. Obliviousness bangs on about its right to rape metaphor and freedom to offend. Obliviousness, sadly, is an antidote to its own antidote: reading widely and with a high level of comprehension. Obliviousness is convinced it does not need to do this, because it thinks it knows enough. Hello? Obliviousness? Am I getting through? Will you go out into the yonder to read more widely and with comprehension, or are you hunkering down for another fight about why you are really right? – T.O. Molefe on Thought Leader about the need for people to read books and stuff