Quote of the week

This is a book of desire denied, of what the pain of that impotence drives people to do, and how it makes them unwilling contortionists and even co-conspirators in their oppression. From ‘The Transformation of Harry’: “And there we all were; in an uncertain country, ourselves uncertain. A land with a sly heart; and ourselves ready to be deceived.” For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening. First published in 1978, The House of Hunger speaks, or rather shouts, forward from its own time to 2017. Perhaps the most painful parts of the book to read are those that show how little has changed in thirty-nine years. For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening.

Efemia Chela
On The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera
11 May 2008

Prague spring at the SABC news?

Is it a question of “when the cat is away the mice will play?” Given the complete implosion now happening at the SABC, what with CEO Dali Mpofu and group executive of news and current affairs, Snuki Zikalala, both suspended and the SABC board facing a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly it is unclear who is actually in charge at his masters voice.

I must confess, over the past two years I have not regularly watched what the SABC has quaintly called their news bulletin. One can only watch so many stories of Ministers opening fertiliser plants and Miranda Strydom fawning over our President before one falls asleep.

But this week I switched to the SABC news bulletin after noticing that it was reporting in a rather detailed and sharp manner on the Ginwala Commission of Enquiry into NPA boss Vusi Pikoli’s fitness to hold office. On Friday night it showed snippets from Pikoli’s legal counsel, Wim Trengove’s, cross examination of Director General in the Department of Justice Menzi Simelane.

I was taken aback when the usually supine SABC showed the clip of Trengove grilling Simelane about the fact that the State first denied that a letter written by President Thabo Mbeki to Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla about the suspension of Vusi Pikoli existed. Later it had to admit that there was such a letter.

Asked Tregove: when the state decided to lie about the existence of this letter, was it the Director General who decided to lie about it or was it the Minister how decided to lie about it. Shoe – bulls eye!

In the past such a clip suggesting that the state was dishonest in the extreme would not have been shown. Is this a matter of the SABC journalists finally getting the guts to do their job because of the absence of Kommisar Zikalala? Or is this negative reporting on the state’s case against Pikoli perhaps part of an attempt to curry favour with the anti-Mbeki camp in the ANC?

Whatever the reason, the reports coming out of Auckland Park about this Enquiry have been riveting. How long can it last?

The reporting also shows how power has slipped away from President Thabo Mbeki since his defeat at Polokwane. When he was at the hight of his influence, no reporter at the SABC would have dared to present such a report that so clearly shows that the Minister and/or the President had lied about the Jackie Selebi matter. The State’s case would have been put in the most positive light and all the viewers would have thought there was all the legal and constitutional reason in the world to suspend Pikoli.

Now Mbeki is yesterday’s man and even lowly reporters put together stories that can only but embarrass him. How the mighty has fallen. I almost feel sorry for our pipe smoking, gallivanting President. There, I said it.

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