Quote of the week

Over the last 150 days we have learned much about the power of the habitual in post-millennial, post-apartheid South Africa. We have heard it in the grumbling, cavilling, quarrelling and grousing about the logic (or lack of) of government decrees. We have also seen it in the defiance of logic among the many bourgeois folks who mistook their entitlement for rights, whether to go running, do yoga on the beach, surf, get takeaway coffees, or to purchase items subjected to restricted trade… We saw it in the contradictory messages relayed by official government channels, in the conflict between some experts advising government, between government officials and such experts, and in the ways in which opposition parties contradicted themselves as they opposed government proclamations.

Angelo Fick
Johannesburg Review of Books
30 January 2007

Dick Cheney vs Thabo Mbeki

Superficially there are some interesting parallels between Vice President Dick Cheney and President Thabo Mbeki. Not naturally warm, not media friendly and prone to making assertions that seem at the very least eccentric and at best wrong and dangerous, both have had their fare share of criticism.

Mbeki denied the link between HIV and Aids while Cheney claimed 18 months ago that the insurgency was “in its last throes” and last week said that Iraq has been a “tremendous success”.

Of course, Mbeki’s politics is far to the left of Cheney’s and he does seem to have a much better grasp on reality than Cheney who seems completely bonkers of late.

In any case, when I saw this clip by comedian John Stewart completely demolishing Cheney after he had been particularly unhinged when interviewed by Wolf Blitzer last week, I realised that it was not possible for any TV comedian in South Africa to treat President Mbeki in the same manner.

Somehow, we are not ready yet. Things are too tricky, given our apartheid past, to ridicule a leader in such a brutal way. The Hansie Cronje effect would kick in and Mbeki would garner much sympathy from many South Africans.

O well, meanwhile, sit back and enjoy a really honest comedian doing what he does best.

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