The public slanging match between Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and the ANC over Jacob Zuma’s sex life is evidence of the poverty of South Africa’s public debate.
The problem is thrown into sharp relief on the Internet which allows people to vent their true feelings under aliases. I have spent quite a lot time trying to understand how commentary evolves on my blog The Wild Frontier, which is quite heavily focussed on politics.
There are always very robust comments from those who follow the blog posts. These are augmented by even more robust comments when a blog post reaches beyond the traditional audience over some or other controversy.
With metronomic regularity, a discussion thread follows three steps: First there are one or two fairly reasoned responses based on some or other political argument. Then there are replies which invariably take the “race” of the writer into account. From then on, it descends very quickly into an exchange of insults and racial abuse. Eventually, the original article is long forgotten as the writers tear into one another and produce ever-more dire racial epithets.
The reason for this problem runs deep. It starts with the fact that South African politics is framed by the struggle against apartheid and it’s mirror image the struggle over the future of a post-apartheid political order. The first and most important thing that defines a person in public debate is which side of the divide they were on in the apartheid era.
The superficial criteria of race is the most immediate tool available to make this determination.
You will have noticed that I placed “race” in inverted commas above. What is fascinating on the Internet is how many people use their aliases to conceal their true race. It is quite possible online for an Arkansas farmer in a string vest to pretend to be bootilicious 17-year-old Hip Hop fangirl.
Those comment regularly have learned that in South Africa, if you are white and you want to say something critical of the ANC, you would be best served by doing so under a “black” alias. And visa versa.
Blogs are out on the wild frontier of these racial exchanges, but they reveal a broader truth about the public debate.
When Helen Zille comments about Jacob Zuma, her critics see her as a white madam disrespecting Zuma’s culture. Those who rise to her defence question the ability of the new order to conduct itself within the rules of democracy.
Before long the original issue is lost as both sides retreat into their racial shells.
Thus the issue of whether or not it is appropriate for Zille to have appointed an all male, mostly white Cabinet quickly devolves into a discussion of whether or not Zuma should have unprotected sex.
Decorum is thrown out of the window as the voices of the ANC Youth League, desperately frothing with invective, remove any hope that there might be a proper political discussion.
The result is that matters of substance are seldom properly debated in our public media spaces.
The only real cure for this is generational, although it would seem that the youth are being raised on the milk of hate by a new crop of leaders determined to hang onto the political power of race.
The solution to this problem must come from our political leadership. It is scandalous that a democracy like South Africa does not host political debates between leaders during election campaigns. Zuma’s refusal to engage Zille in televised debates might have played well with the ANC’s support base, but it represented a lost opportunity to lead the national debate with political maturity.
The same can be said of Parliament where leaders are seen to be jeering and heckling when they should be exchanging views and trying to understand where their opponents are coming from.
Larry, about people joining the DA, please refer to my earlier comments. I am not a member of any political organization, have never been and probably will never be.
I saw a DVD by Chris Rock the other day and he says something very interesting. He says that he thinks it is very stupid for people label themselves either liberal or conservative because he is conservative about some things (such as crime) and liberal about some things (such as prostitution). Here is the really interesting line from that DVD.
‘I think any person who makes up his mind before he knows what the issue is, is an idiot.’
I think this is very true. Political parties take these very strong lines on everything before they even know what the issue is. It is therefore, for me, idiotic to belong to one. I would rather find out what the problem is at any one time and apply my mind and figure out what to do and then do it rather than stick to some party line.
That’s how I roll. I have always firmly believed in the power of logically thinking through stuff and then making up your mind. Many times you disagree with me etc. but that’s okay.
But joining a political party is a bridge too far for me.
Yeah Boinkongozi, you are a stupid sh.it parading as a liberal free-thinking black man living in Cape Town working for a supplier of services to the DA’s City of Cape Town. The pseudo-intellectual **** that you spread about respect is just ludicrous and devoid of any substance. Quoting from a Chris Rock DVD to explain your philosophies and values is even more laughable.
I say again: “Wat ‘n leë doos!”
Was there anybody saying anything? I didn’t think so.
Could it be because you are seriously delusional and would be more at home back in KZN?
Bongs, I must relent. In fact I have actually come to like you and your thinking. There was another Bonginkosi a short time back who came across much like that old codger AK-47, and I strongly suspected at the time that it was him using your name, or if not, then someone else. Welcome back.
I am sorry that I cannot respect Zuma, the ANC, or the 65% of voters who put this rogue into power. I will slate him at every opportunity with the same respect one gives a cockroach. You must accept this. he will never be my president. Klaar.
Please scroll up a little to a post that only just uploaded. It was one of those that did not make it, and then just magically reappears when everyone has moved on.
Something occurred to me, about this whole Zille issue with Zuma’s sexual depravity.
Hardly any, if any, of the usual female ANC supporters who blog here and adjacently in the Times blog, have ventured a peep of condemnation towards Zille.
This is very telling, and it shows that Zille has touched on an issue that goes to the very core of all women, to the extent that it trancends politics. It is only the ‘boys’ of the ANCYL and other manly detractors of the ANC Alliance who have been ‘shrilling’; – because of how Zille’s words of truth have affected Zuma and the ANC.
This patriarchal society of ours is the cause of suffering in our womenfolk. Polygamy is at the extreme end of this suffering. No amount of gender tokenism will right such a wrong. Just like Muslim women who are brought up to believe that they must remove themselves from the society of men by covering their bodies and faces, and submit themselves for breeding; – so too are black women culturally kept ten steps behind the menfolk in a very similar vein.
In European culture, women emancipated themselves long ago, yet still patriarchal attitudes exist in both men and women. Black women have nothing to fear from Zille, or her words. They must be comforted by this strong 58 year old who could be a grandmother. Yet the ‘boys’ are calling her a little girl.
The women of this land are listening.
I am looking forward to a debate between a DA member, which could be Helen Zille or someone else, with anybody of the ANC.
Who do you think will be ripped apart….I don’t think it will be the DA.
the only one dreaming here, is you.
We have an unfished business, do you still remeber my sweety pie?
You have the insignificance of an ant, and should be treated as such.
funny how the ppl who count always see that sad, sad artist post kak.
Reno, the ANC will never debate the DA because the DA has so much ammunition on their side, that the ANC can only come out of a debate looking more stupid than they already are.
Such a slaughter would make even me feel sorry for the poor dunces who try their luck with any one of the DA; – even the DA pre-school league.
I didn’t even vote DA, and I am standing square and proud as a South African – and more importantly, a woman – behind Helen Zille.
@ Nkosinathi “K”-word: The difference between you and a horse’s ar.se is that the latter puts out much less cr.ap than you do. Besides, the dung even has a higher IQ than you and your syphilitic grey matter.
Thabo B ..
just for that, I want to be your friend
Can it be because I did not vote for the DA either?
@ Thabo B (Dirty Madams Pad),
You must first have enough memory to remember who made you walk free in your own country, who gave you access to BAAS’s restaurants, who gave you the right to make the madam bend and inject your small/big **** before trying to talk your non-sense garden boy’s language to me.
I take every single criticising word comming from your mouth as compliments, given the fact that its coming from that dirty racist heart, and sour / acidic BAAS’s tongue.
As long as you made an informed decision, based on what is good for South Africa and ALL her ppl, based on service delivery and based on that unifying principle that each and every life is a precious GIFT..
you could have voted for the friggin green party and I’d still be your friend, Thabo
It is clear Nkosinathi wll not be moving forward in thought and good will towards others in the new South Africa?
He has racism on the brain!
All I hear is a yak yak yak of a stinking hiena coming from the insignificant ant.
Why give hyenas a bad name? Nkosinathi K-word is the excrement left by Africa’s most prolific scavengers.
Thabo B-I have to agree with you on Bonginkosi,his fake-intellectualism is really boring.Watch how with his every post he try to assert himself as a clever know it all cooking up facts and figures along the way.He reminds me of the certain anc leaders in the many meetings i use to attend in my former branch.
As for Mr Nkosinathi,shame poor thing,he’s still not over the anc being thoroughly trounced in the WC and not getting 2/3 nationally so JZ can beat TM’s record.Which was a good thing ’cause we would hear about it non-stop.
You just have to give him some time to get accept the reallity of democracy in action and while ignoring his silly tantrums in the mean time,he will come right ’cause i think he is a nice chap when not emotional.
Yes Zumaniac, I am sure that he is “a nice chap” …. especially when he is asleep.
You guys are still giving too much attention to this maggot. He thrives on it. Cut off his oxygen.
He is the reason why there is such poor debate, because we focus on his idiocy instead of the issues, which is his intention anyway. Cut him off.
wow.. typical me missing a pissing contest
He is who he is.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Larry, you’re right again
No Larry, this dung heap does not live on oxygen but on the ANC flatulence of lies and deceit of his fellow rabble-rousers. You see them feature prominently during xenophobic attacks on fellow Africans and they have the audacity to call it “ubuntu.”
You are right Thabo, which makes him not worthy to be pissed on, even when on fire. So flick him off your sleeve like the tick he is, and move along.
Was there an insect that doesn’t know how to debate matters and is resorting to name calling? Yeah, right, whatever…..
“…this dung heap does not live on oxygen…”
How virulent the human mind can be when perceiving, its main faculty, is tainted by an illegitimate superioty to other savages, as a result of ‘polish’ that seems to be forever eluding us, the ‘working class’.
@ Thabo B
all i can say is xenophobic attacks on fellow Africans will happen again before the end of the year, the reasons why I say that is because the xenophobic attacks are fresh on everyone’s minds and now the government has opened the gates to Zim to enter freely without visa’s for 90 days, I would also like to ask the government can they account for everyone who has entered into this country? A total body count……. I doubt it, these Zims are coming into the country and will stay, in doing this, Zims will take away jobs from the South Africans and an uprising to xenophobic attacks will occur, and when this happens, I can tell you, you cant blame the locals for the attacks, only the government, because the government is aware of why xenophobic attacks in SA happened and now they open the gates for them to return!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SAD
@Dumisani: No, the ANC supporters are still far too happy with their election victory. Wait until next year when the hubris wears off, the food parcels are stopped and starvation & hardship start to bite the urban squatters.
Then watch the sh.it fly as they realise that all the election promises were lies. Instead of attacking the government that they voted into power, these ANC “supporters” will attack Zille & the DA and all foreigners who are making a living in this country. I for one no longer employ locals because they steal too much and prefer employing Malawians who appreciate their higher wages. The foreigners come to work everyday as opposed to locals who absent themselves when they get paid a bonus or have too much cash to spend.
Thabo, its called ‘spit and suck’. These guys spit in their own food (toyi toyi against poor service delivery and corruption), and then suck it up (vote the same corrupt inefficient people back into power.)
But its always the mlungus or kwerekwere who are to blame.
When a cat is away mice will play, That is what happens when iI am not around. I notice every Tom Dikcn and Harry, including garden boys are scratching their itchy, and bleeding gums with my name.
They must be forever grateful for having a humble friend like me, who despite their garden boy status, small minds, and scewed political ideologies will continue to engage them.
Now I challenge any hornie Arse, be it a SHIKOTA bustard or a Darkies Aside (DA) Madam to come with their pants down to me for a one on one debate. I have no time for romance, I am just ready to screw someone.
“I have no time for romance, I am just ready to screw someone.” <— Nkosinathi
well, yeah.. this we’ve known for a while
@Nkosinathi K-word: For someone with your superior intellect and superlative class, may I suggest you sidle up to that seventy year old nanny goat in your father’s kraal.
I think the best place is in your mouth.
Jeez,Nkosinathi, you habve been seriously insulted and belittled by Thabo and this is the only pathetic response that you can come up with? Sies, man. You are useless.
Can you just feel the love?
You guys still at it? *lol*
Can anyone tell me what happened with the MK Vets today? We were waiting for them with open arms, but they didn’t show. That wasn’t very polite. We even arranged party snacks and everything.
If that was the case, I would have long joined your SHIKOTA or Your Darkies Aside (DA).
By the way, I notice that your sweetheart (Thabo B)has accepted my offer by his silence.
Your can jump up and down, while I am catching a blow jobb from your prostitute darling (Thabo B)