“The DA Protects White Interests And Would Bring Back Apartheid”

Of course, that would depend on who gets to define “white interests” and “apartheid”.

If you’d argue that the DA would create a South Africa in which anyone could succeed, it would be pointed out that this success would be on “the white man’s terms”. The most curious of those western terms is the word “corruption”. It is western insofar as it tells us what the terms of western success should not be.

Black people share a history in which looking out for one’s people’s interests was prioritized over rule-keeping. We therefore have a higher tolerance for corruption. That’s not the same as saying we are more corrupt. It is to generalize, rather loosely and anecdotally, that we put “ugazi” (“blood” – shared humanity and heritage, robust Ubuntu, compassion, longsuffering and forgiveness) before technical and legal correctness.

By this standard, whoever admits the paradox that rule-keeping levels the playing field for everyone, and is therefore more in line with universal “Ubuntu” than an unlimited “forgiveness” that stands by watching the country go to waste, will be declared anathema.

I suspect our reluctance to call the ANC out has less to do with the fear that “the white man” will bring back apartheid than it is out of spite for him bringing apartheid in the past to begin with. Knowing better or choosing not to, we’ll lump the DA with “the white man” and proclaim a plague on both their houses. Of course we know that the DA emerged from some progressive party during apartheid. “Bajikela abakubo”, one ANC supporter pointed out to emphasize that when white people fought against apartheid, those white people “turned against their own” – an unthinkability that nobody should ever dare, not even in the name of principle. I’ve sensed a bottomless hatred in many black people for “the other”; that this hatred is held back by the same “Ubuntu” that stops them from calling out black corruption. Also, I’ve sensed a choice to fear the mostly black leaders that have been put into power.

The DA thinks it’s the DA’s job to sell itself to black voters; many analysts, commentators and critics agree that the DA should be doing more to make itself more appealing to black voters without looking like it’s trying too hard to get black votes. But then a double-standard arises that allows the DA to have absolutely no imperfections (and it has them!) while allowing the ANC and all other parties to get away with blue murder.

In view of existing evidence, saying that the DA should do more to appeal to black voters is as absurd as saying it’s the government’s job to create jobs. If it’s the DA’s job to sell itself to black voters, then what’s the voters’ job? It is a very passive democracy wherein voting citizens are not expected to think. Someone has to chew it up and spit it in our mouths for us, I see.

I’d have imagined that when the ruling party is not upholding the Constitution, the opposition party should not be bending back-over-backwards to get me to vote differently. The DA might not convince me to vote for the DA, but it shouldn’t have to convince me to vote for something other than the ANC. That I won’t vote for today’s ANC should be a given. I am puzzled, if not offended, that anyone thinks the DA would have to help me see that, just because I’m black. Is there something about my blackness that leaves me unable to make an objective assessment of the varying parties, seeing their strengths and weaknesses (which they all have)? Is it because I’m black that I’m expected to be blind, deaf and dumb to what’s happening around me, and an extra emphasis has to be placed on influencing my vote, beyond crossing the language barrier?

“Many black people have rational reasons for voting for the ANC”, I’m told.

Have we now reached a point where I have the right to speak my mind and say that’s bullshit? I was a wedding that was interrupted by load-shedding. My whole weekend has been thrown out of synch by load shedding. Do I have a right to speak my mind, now? Here it is: there are many reasons to vote for today’s ANC, and many of them are noble and beautiful. But they’re not rational. They’re not about ensuring the best interests of the country. I say this in view of the evidence at hand and unless the ANC changes.

Could it be that the reason the DA is not attracting scads of black voters is that many of those black voters don’t want to be attracted? Let’s be honest, now. Has this thought crossed anybody’s mind? A great number of black voters are not tired of ruling party corruption: many of them have accepted it as inevitable and are scoping the system out for how they can also benefit. They are simultaneously annoyed and amused by the “white man” aka-the-DA jumping up and down yelling, “It’s not fair!” to corruption because it’s so similar to black people’s jumping up and down yelling, “It’s not fair!” to apartheid 20-odd years ago. This idea that black ANC voters are waiting for some magic day when the ANC will improve is rubbish. The majority of black people gained nothing from apartheid and stand to lose nothing from government corruption. A great number of white people, on the other hand…

If the 62% really wanted a good South Africa, they would come to the table. They won’t because, as my acquaintance pointed out, that would be turning against one’s own.

What? Don’t shoot the messenger. I just speculate and observe.

“What do you think you’d get if the DA got into power? Do you really think they’d allow you to thrive in their white world?” I’m asked.

Sure. Because the ANC allows me to thrive in its world. Mixed feelings.

“Zuma has gotten Nkandla out of his system”, someone pointed out to me. “If we replace him with someone else, that person will have to build his or her own Nkandla and the drama will start all over again. So we might as well keep Zuma and bear it out.”

God, I think, handed his resignation in when he heard these words.

There was nothing left to save. Sorry, Tata. You fought against white domination. You fought against black domination. You cherished the ideal of a democratic South Africa in which all are equal, and you were prepared to die for it.

And I now think that we have failed you. Some dreams are just too lofty for mere mortals.




More Eskom Woes? Another Bailout? You NEED To Know How “Load-Shedding Your Taxes” Is Different From “Tax Evasion” And Ordinary “Tax Avoidance”

This post is a response to questions that came up in response to the other day’s piece about “load-shedding taxes”. I’ve realized that I need to expand on the background and concept.

Tax Gap
I use the definition loosely but there is a “tax gap” in some countries partially because many of its peoples live simple lives (of varying levels of quality) in which bartering goods and services is the normal method of exchanging value. Cash transactions involving till slips are rare.

It’s in every government’s best interest to ensure that all its citizens have jobs, mostly outside government, are well-educated, have access to user-friendly technology and are willing and able to participate meaningfully in the taxable economy.

To whatever degree a government is too short-sighted to empower, inform and encourage citizens to play a robust role in the taxable economy, to that degree it has set the trap for its own demise.

To keep itself in power, our government’s ruling party needs a tax-paying base and a voting base. There are overlaps. And while each citizen votes once, some tax-payers may pay taxes that are proportionally bigger than their reliance on the State, arguably subsidizing those who rely more fully on the State. Come voting season, the ruling party will advertise everything the government has done, but the posters, billboards and slogans will echo the colours and rhetoric of the ruling party more than of the government. Throw struggle history into the mix, and the ruling party has a potent recipe for staying in government without sincerely governing.

And this works, so long as the discourse is around voting. Voting for the opposition would lead to the dreaded “return of apartheid”, it is said. Whether voters truly believe this or whether they have ulterior motives for wishing to keep the same power in place is beyond my knowledge.

What would happen if the discussion suddenly changed from voting to tax-paying? What would happen if the tax-paying base suddenly decided to simplify its living standards and turn to barter instead of cash, in barter networks that grow faster than the law can be modified to keep up? The government takes it for granted that people who can afford to pay cash for goods and services will continue to do so “until Jesus returns”, which is how it will stay in power indefinitely. But if your neighbor decides to take ingredients from her backyard to cook your meals in exchange for your painting her house and fixing her yard, or cutting her hair, will you really put this act of everyday neighborly kindness down on your tax returns? It may depend on whether your neighbor has a registered business as a backyard goods’ grower or meal-cooker, and whether you are a professional painter and yard-fixer. Then the market value of the transaction matters and probably should be declared as a transaction that affected your respective “turnovers” as businesses.

But what if you’re both just being handy and neighborly, and you’re not businesses at all? Or what if you’re both unemployed (on paper)? Or what if backyard plant-growing/meal-making and house-painting are just serious hobbies that people call you to practice on their behalf? Is it your fault that one person’s hobby is another person’s livelihood? Also, wouldn’t you have to be trained tax experts to be accountable to the nth degree for the tax ramifications of these transactions?

Think what the net effect would be if everyone just decided to be really self-sufficient person and a good neighbor, linking up as a network of DIY-ey persons who can make their own solar-powered panels out of scrap, recycle their own water and do other things off the grid? Where is the line? Has our government not told us numerous times to save?

Look It Up If You Don’t Believe Me, But “Tax Evasion” and “Tax Avoidance” Are Not The Same Thing
Tax evasion is when someone unlawfully and knowingly skirts tax law. Tax avoidance is the legal use of the tax regime to one’s own advantage, to reduce the amount of tax that is payable by means that are within the law. SARS has rules against tax avoidance, but to be effective or meaningful at the level of people’s private lives and networks, those rules would have to overstep many Constitutional rights and violate people’s privacy. The laws are more readily applicable to businesses than they are to civilians. I’m advocating that people shift more of their interactions from the visible, taxable business economy to which these rules do readily apply, to the more ambiguous, puzzling informal economy, in order to dry up the revenues that fund corrpution. On private citizens’ turf, the law can so easily be brought into conflict with itself.

More profoundly, when so many government officials have no respect for the law, why should the citizens not consider following their example?

During apartheid, people broke the system by being arrested simultaneously, or showing up at places all at once, coordinating their behavior and using their numbers. That’s easier to do now that we have mobile technology. E-filing? How do you use automated e-filing if there’s no power and internet is expensive? Get together with ALL your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and their friends and relatives – your whole “network” – and rock up at SARS. Daunt them with your unprecedented numbers and tweet them out if they can’t provide reasonably good service to ALL of you.

Play Dumb
A man stood at a SARS queue not knowing it was the wrong one. When he reached the end, the clerk there assisted him and then told him the right queue to stand, for future reference. The man then joined that queue and when he reached the teller at its end, he asked for “future reference”. The first clerk had thrown the phrase out assuming he knew what it meant.

My purpose isn’t to make fun of this gentleman. It is to point out that the way you dress, carry yourself, speak and appear can insulate you from many realities all around you. You’ll never know the kinds of queries that SARS personnel normally deal with because, based on their first impression of you they’ll know what to expect from you. You’d never tell it, but moments before dealing with you they had a client who was searching for “future reference”.

If you and hundreds of people from your “bartering network” all suddenly had difficulty understanding the tax system or what “reasonable market value” even means, it could take hours to explain to ALL of you exactly why, and how, you could measure how much bartering has brought to or taken from you in currency. How do you work out how much you owe the Taxman if the government has not made absolutely certain that everyone has had the sufficient education to understand what can appear to be an infinitely complex taxation system?

Now, the record may show that you’ve filled out tax returns before. Just remind the teller of how extensively she had to assist you the last time. Wasn’t it her? Snap, it looked like her. It may have been a colleague of hers. It was so long ago. Or tell her how closely someone else had to explain every step while you were doing it online that other time, and how that person has moved away. Play dumb, and play dumb in vast, unbearable numbers.

Earlier, I asked whether government had done everything in its power to ensure that everyone has had sufficient education to understand the tax system. Brief workshops don’t cut it: if the government wants a taxable citizenry, then the government has to have done the groundwork of proper life-long education, not just sent SARS agents at the 11th hour to teach people Tax 101, presuming on their preexisting vocabulary and general knowledge. The government takes if for granted that you’ve educated yourself enough for SARS to send agents to complete your education where you haven’t made yourself sufficiently taxable, in order to help you cooperate with and contribute to your taxation and rebating. But the whole thing reeks of exploitation. When last did SARS need a bail-out? It is the most effective, effecient parastatal I know of. Nowhere else have I seen the government perform as in SARS. Through it, the government that refuses people a decent education is willing to give us a slightly better education so we can do a slightly better job at ensuring perfect tax returns, and on the whole, perfect revenue. Ha.

If the ruling party wants any of us to rely wholly on the State to spoon-feed us, then we must ALL turn into babies. And if any of SARS’ staff fails to show infinite patience towards you and your needs, throw the CPA, a Charlize Theron and a lawsuit at them. That knowledge, you can suddenly have. What? If Oscar and Shrien could run circles around the system, why can’t we ALL do it?

I imagine some people would want to barter, but would want to be scrupulously honest about every minute transaction. Assuming “they” can process ALL of the documentation from ALL the people who’ve turned to barter, how will “they” know that you are being completely honest, even if you are? Load-shedding your taxes isn’t about cutting back on your taxes; it’s about cutting back on visibly taxable transactions – or making the market value of your transactions more difficult to ascertain – in order to give the Taxman endless days and sleepless nights. This will force the government to make it easier for more people to participate in the taxable economy as informed, empowered citizens. The point of load-shedding taxes isn’t to evade tax; it’s for citizens to demonstrate control over it and over government. WE make, and can unmake, any existing system. Even if you choose to be totally honest with your taxes, the mere act of getting into a barter network is a subversive statement: it’s a reminder of who has real power.

Other citizens will probably lie about their barter “income”. As a currency, barter is more flexible and available than cash, if not always as transferable. If your landlord is willing to provide your board, lodging and meals in exchange for you helping with his business’ graphic design and copywriting, you won’t have to wait until his business has liquid cash before availing your services to him or being compensated in kind. The temptation there is that you may lie to SARS about the market value of the transaction, or pretend it never happened.

The bigger temptation, if you’re part of an informal bartering network, is that your businesses won’t have to even exist insofar as the government is concerned. No CK documents, no tax clearance, no BEE certificate, no receipts – nothing, except word of mouth, neighborly trust and constant practice at social media. No cash, either, if your network is strong enough.

I’m not advocating this way of life; I’m pointing out that everyone is already using it or elements of it though not many people have aggressively used it to bring the government to breaking point.

I don’t know what tools the government has at its disposal to audit that every existing business and taxable entity is making strides to fall within the taxable economy. I’m just a blogger. But if you are faced with the temptation to totally bamboozle the system, take Thuli Madonsela’s advice to Former President Jacob Zuma: where you have “unduly benefitted” from loopholes in the structure, “pay back a reasonable amount” of your gains in cash.

That is if you have any cash in these difficult, difficult times.

So while I would neither advocate nor condemn maintaining invisibility towards the taxable economy, I will remark on how flexible it would be to exchange goods and services instead of saving cash up to pay for the services of someone outside of your bartering network.

Indeed, this is how, you know, people did things before governments and taxes existed? And they lived, in some cases, in great peace and luxury.

Now that’s what I’d call returning to our roots.



This Is How You Load-Shed Your Taxes

[This was drafted during a load-shedding session on iPad while Eskom bosses were enjoying their bonuses.]

Visit Market and other places crawling with people who can do or make useful things. Look especially for people who grow things in their own backyards and windowsills.

Plant the idea that maybe it’s better to exchange goods and services instead of cash. Call this campaign #AggressiveBartering (#AB) or #GuerrillaBartering (#GB). Or someone please come up with a better hashtag.

Cultivate networks around this concept.

Money is how government claims 14% of transacted value in your life save for milk, bread, eggs, fuel and fresh produce, I think. So, switch over to swapping goods and services instead of cash.

You may initially be limited but with time and practice at bartering and as your network increases, you’ll gain greater independence from the taxable money system.

A social network that revolves around cashlessly exchanging goods and services is a threat to the establishment because such a network can declare whatever value it decides to declare for whichever transactions it decides to report. The looser the structure – a “network” can be anything – the looser the law around the transactions. Such a network would exist entirely within SARS’ blind spot.

I don’t know whether the transactions that occur in my backyard are fiscally important just as Former President Jacob Zuma didn’t know whether what was happening in his backyard was fiscally important. I do know that I could vanish from the system’s radar. I’d like to keep my conscience clean but where there is no money transacted, the option of having the transaction taxed remains with me. The discipline of bartering suffocates State corruption. The State cannot misappropriate tax payers’ money if there isn’t that much of it to play with. Government corruption costs you less when you barter.

Yes, there is tax on bartered goods and services. But common sense tells me that the context as well as the nature of the institution you present yourself as determine the legal nature of the transaction you’re participating in. And how you describe these things can be a matter of taste, as we’ve learned from our government (think of Former President Zuma’s “fire pool”). Most importantly, everything depends on whether anyone declares the transaction to begin with, which in turn is dependent on the platform on which the transaction transpires. So take it from Market to your backyard or your kitchen or your bathroom.

The policing and quantifying of semi-private exchanges would be beyond the system’s immediate reach. As you swap your back-yard ingredients for Wi-Fi access or painting services, you get to decide how much you feel the transaction is worth to you, and declare that. You decide the amount you feel like being taxed. Nobody can truly contest how much the transaction was worth to you because nobody knows its scale, depth, extensiveness and value except you and the other person. Or your whole network. Where there is no price tag, the price is difficult to pin down, isn’t it? Where the value of the asset is knowable, play it safe.

But must you declare every transaction that happens among you and your loved ones even if you and your “friends” and “family” are a actually highly organized network of recruits that may have decided to load-shed their taxes with you? I mean, in this confusing confluence of criss-crossing cultures and religions we call our rainbow nation, just who is and who isn’t “family”? Yell “culture” or “religion” and nobody will ask questions. Throw dust in their eyes. Pick the most unlikely person, and say he or she is your lover. If someone would ask questions, make it embarrassing and have fun watching that person squirm.

Right now, we can’t see what the government doesn’t want us to see since it’s turned the light off, leaving us in the dark both literally and metaphorically.

But we can also play that game.

Ethics? I’d say render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. But also look for transactions that don’t fall within the scope of the rules, and arrange a mass migration in that direction for more transactions among more people. As I twice told Iman Rappetti twice on Power FM radio, we created every existing system and we can dismantle every one of them while remaining quite innocent. If enough people load-shed their VAT without being dishonest about taxable transactions, the difference will make itself felt.

Then, it won’t matter who got the most votes. It will matter who pays the most tax.

If businesses starts talking more openly to government about what’s really happening in this country as I pointed out that they should, we might still spend money on those businesses in order to support them.

Otherwise, though…money? What’s that?

With salaries rising so slowly and with unemployment so rife, nobody’s seen Money anywhere or knows where he went. Check, my pockets are really empty. Not making it up.

What’s that? How am I surviving – nay, thriving – without taxable cash? I guess it’s because I have a big, erm, family.

And we’re mighty resourceful.

[Reader, let me know what you think. Also, tell me where I may have bungled up the technical, legal or ethical details.]

Thank you



How Long Can Cyril Delay The Inevitable?

Cyril Ramaphosa

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

Just when he was starting to get nice media coverage for stabilizing parliament and receiving the victims of the Lagos building collapse, Cyril Ramaphosa began to feel the heat for not confirming that Jacob Zuma resigned.

This shouldn’t be a surprise.  He cannot redeem parliament or democracy without first admitting that Former President Zuma was the cause of its death and cannot be resurrected together with it. No matter how much substance there is to the media’s none-too-subtle whispers about Ramaphosa’s messiahship, not even he has the power to uphold such a fundamental contradiction. Former President Zuma is our albatross. If Cyril is under pressure in Parly, it’s because he’s trying to do the impossible and delay the inevitable. That’s what the current state of affairs really boils down to. The media can’t say it. Politicians can’t say it. We can see it anyway. It’s as plain as day.

Just about everyone who doesn’t benefit illicitly from his presidency wants Zuma gone, but they either cannot say it out loud or don’t want to get their hands dirty getting rid of him.  Notice that: they can’t say it out loud because Zuma has fractured democracy that much, and they don’t want to get their hands dirty doing it because nothing involving Jacob Zuma could leave anyone’s hands clean. Zuma cannot step down because he’s already taken the office so low that he has nowhere to step down to. For these reason, he has been resigned by public fiat. There really was no other way he could be rid of.

People have been saying that Parliament is a circus. Cyril Ramaphosa went in to save that situation. But without admitting that Jacob Zuma has resigned, all he will really achieve is upgrading Parliament from being a circus to being a masquerade.

Everyone is tip-toeing around the elephant in the room. Until the political clap-trap is dropped for some real-life frankness, Parly isn’t going to enjoy a full restoration of her stature.



Parliament Accepts Jacob Zuma’s Resignation

It is generally understood that for a decision to count, its maker(s) must be of sound mind. Without knocking the millions who have gone through a perfectly human battle with mental illness, I submit that our National Assembly is arguably not of sound mind. There is proof of this in every front page news headline from last Friday morning.

Someone might say that Parliament has not announced Zuma’s resignation. But that doesn’t meant they haven’t accepted it. The drama we witnessed was a result of their denial that he has resigned. They accepted his resignation and it sent them into a mental breakdown. The Sunday Times reported that Jacob Zuma had demanded that ANC MPs use their numbers to “crush opposition” and its combined challenge to ANC authority. Helen Zille commented that this proved him unfit to lead a democracy. In this and many other ways, Jacob Zuma de-facto resigned from his position as President of the Republic of South Africa insofar as that presidency is defined by the Constitution. The seat that the majority of the National Assembly bent back over backwards to protect is unoccupied. The extent to which they went to protect him is proof that the Constitution by itself is no longer sufficient to defend his presidency. Brute force was needed – and it was used – because Jacob Zuma is no longer President, Parliament knows it, and the ANC side of it went nuts trying to deny it.

Jacob Zuma also has resigned in the minds of many South Africans through the hashtags #FormerPresidentJacobZuma and #ZumasResigned. “Has it been confirmed? It would be all over the news’ headlines!” But Jacob Zuma’s resignation hinges not on what he (for he does not make sound choices for the country) nor Parliament (Parliament cannot make sound choices at all right now) nor the ANC (the ANC only makes choices for the ANC) chooses. It depends on our decision on the matter. The media won’t confirm Zuma’s resignation; rather, it is we who have to tell the media that #ZumasResigned.

We, who have accepted his resignation, have rubber-stamped, approved and filed Zuma’s resignation away safely in our minds. We are as satisfied as the incestuously conceived intra-party, inter-ministerial task teams, ad-hoc committees, tribunals and other multiplying yes-men and light-bulb changers are of Jacob Zuma’s newborn-baby innocence over Nkandlagate, that this resignation is legitimate. We will not dignify that nightmarish figment of our collective imagination, that charade, which was Zuma’s term in office, with even a half-forged resignation letter any more than we accept that the Olympic-sized dam in his Nkandla yard is a “fire pool”. We thusly authenticate Zuma’s resignation with a proof whose dignity and legitimacy are proportional to the dignity and legitimacy he brought to his term in office. To ask for more would be unreasonable.

“This doesn’t create real change”, they say. “Our just saying he has resigned doesn’t mean he’s really resigned.” What would constitute a “real” resignation on Jacob Zuma’s part? Last week, we saw National Assembly and its processes dissolve to chaos. What is “serious” about the lies told to protect him? The National Assembly has as much combined solemnity and dignity as the people project on it. And in view of last Thursday’s debacle, that’s saying more about the people’s resolute imaginations than about the thing they apply their collective imaginations to. I am not arguing that South Africans stop taking Parliament seriously: I am pointing out that deliberately or not, Parliament has already beaten the people to that.

Former President Zuma swore to uphold the Constitution of South Africa. What do his oath and his signature count for if he could break a promise of that magnitude? “Zuma must go,” they say. But Zuma is gone. “Zuma must step down,” they say. He has taken the Office as low as it could be taken. There is nowhere lower for him to step down to.

Tweeting #ZumasResigned makes it more solemnly binding and true with every retweet. Because, when just about every political system, process and institution is based on a lie, your hashtag is king.

Be gentle yet firm in correcting those who don’t “get it” as yet; feel free to send them the link to this article whether they are newspaper editors, your friends on Facebook or your next door neighbor. Tell it to those who still have a picture of Former President Jacob Zuma hanging on their office wall to take it down and wait for the next president to be sworn in.

Because Zuma is no longer the President of South Africa. People are starting to get this. They’ve seen the truth and have made the brave decision to stick to it regardless of cost or consequence. #ZumasResigned. About time, too.


Edited 18/11/2014 16:42

Dear Business: Concerning Jacob Zuma’s Resignation

Dear Business

At this moment you are
a.) slowly slinking out of the country to greener pastures, or
b.) doing shady business with the ruling party through the State, or
c.) sticking your neck out by speaking out about the way things are in South Africa without knowing the impact of that risk on your future, or
d.) doomed and unable to do one damned thing about it, yet
e.) for some odd and inexplicable reason, politely pretending that there is an option e.) when you and I know that there is none, though in your (limited) competition among yourselves you pretend that there is an option e.) The truth is that every one of you is one of the above, is steadily on the way to becoming one of the above or getting ready to exploit the victims of the looming financial crisis who currently aren’t preparing around the above.

If you do have the resources to a.) move out or expand into foreign currencies and economies, then congratulations, you lucky traitor. Everyone else is left with the other three options. In view of the broad-daylight shakedown of institutions like Parliament only c.) makes sense. Yet alarmingly, that is the option that you avoid like the plague, Business. I hope you know that there are crafty elements counting on your principled refusal to do c.) and that many people choosing a path [pretending that option e.) exists] does not make it a legitimate path to take, nor does it mean the path actually exists; it just means that most of you are counting on the mercy of the wolves leading you along that route, over that edge. It must be nice, walking along a path you know has a trap but not knowing when it will spring.

That, or you think it’s okay not to treat the current political and economic situation with the urgency it deserves because none of your rivals treat it as critical until they collapse ala Ellerines. Business, watching you play poker with the government would be funny if my survival didn’t depend on your survival.

If you are b.) relying on the ruling party or the State to help your cash flow at some future stage, you are banking on a financial structure that burns money faster than it makes it and cannot slow its expenditure down to save its life. There was a time when it made perfect business sense to curry favour with the ruling party and government, wherever the one ended and the other began. That time is most certainly up. The rules are changing swiftly; you’re not keeping up. Luthuli House cannot afford to pay its staff and is sending Former President Jacob Zuma hither and thither to clinch a trillion-rand deal. The problem with that bail-out is that not only will the nation have a spectacular, nuclear-style revolt when the power bill lands (through the Post?) but the new spelling of “overheads” will be E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E. Whatever money you would have made in this meantime will be meaningless unless it tipped strongly towards enabling your option a.) Can you imagine a slow, bittersweet rendition of Mshini Wami on violin? You’ll be hearing it when you pack your files and stationery into boxes as you’re evacuated from your premises. Titanics sink, Business. Keeping quiet about the government/ruling party/politics might be the polite thing to do, but it is consent and in this instance, consent is complicity.

Business, you may be the only one playing by the rules at the moment but they’re not there to serve you; they’re there to exploit you all the while accusing you of being the exploiter. And you’re not contesting the charge. You’ve failed Rule One of negotiation: you’ve allowed the other party to define the terms of your participation in your business, as Business. By allowing politicians to do politics instead of unashamedly pointing out that you are the real source of real meaningful cash, around whose requirements much of fiscal policy should revolve, you’ve allowed ideology to trump science, promises to take the place of plans and politicking the place of production. I am astounded at how unassuming and accommodating you are; how supine, how obedient, you’ve become. At how faithfully you’ll maintain the appearance that option e.) exists.

Fairly or unfairly, they call your obsession with actual productivity and output, racism, with or without a rational argument from the premise to the conclusion. They’ll call your requirement for incentive to innovate, greed; your need for an environment conducive to doing what you need to do, counter-revolutionary. Are these accusations fair or unfair? How the hell can I, a voter on the ground, know the answer to that question if you’re not speaking up for yourself? You cannot stay above the political fray, Business, because there is no option e.); not for you nor for your competition beside you. So kindly get involved in politics because politics is already involved in you whether you admit it or not. Politics is up to the hilt in you.

You only voice your real feelings in whispered meetings with the government, and we only know what you think about all the ideology, promises and politics because a few media voices with a bias towards you are willing to shout your words from the rooftops for you. You do know that much of what is agreed on in those meetings doesn’t get done in your favour; that rule, that platform, isn’t helping you. Why respect it? I once was an ANC supporter, Business, until one day some newspaper used the word “sustainability”. I looked it up. Someone explained it to me. Then I realized that you had been crowded off of the table while being expected to keep it laden with all the goods thereon. I also realized just how ingenious the setup of the ANC’s game was, and how disastrously unworkable it would prove in the long run. Why am I telling you this? Because what you think of as impossible is quite possible: it is possible for ANC voters to complain and even walk away from the party. Why? The Rand. The Rand is what you and the man on the street have in common. The Rand is the mystery that unites, explains and influences every South African, however deep or shallow his involvement in the economy. You can do politics, business, as long as you tell the man on the street exactly how your political position translates into money in his back pocket (should he be willing to earn it). Is this beneath you? The ANC gave people KFC and explained it away as anything but Caesar giving bread and circuses to his subjects. You want to play by the rules, Business? Then you’re pretending that there is an option e.) You’re lying to your consumers, your employees, your shareholders and your stakeholders. Most importantly, you’re lying to yourself. You are consenting and complicit. If you cared for South Africa you would do what some businesses – for example, the Mail and Guardian as not just a media entity but a business – have done: nail your colours to the mast, wholly or in part. You have a vested interest in the politics of the country but unless and until you explain why you see politics the way you do, and how that translates into meaningful cash in the back pocket of the industrious man on the street, we on the street will not understand politics’ impact on your ability to keep money in our back pocket. If South Africans are politically under-informed, it’s because you have chosen to pretend that there is an option e.) All this time you’ve wondered whose job it is to explain the relationship between politics and the economy to “the masses”. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear; the student is ready. Your job, Business, is to simply speak up. As someone came along to explain “sustainability” to me, someone will explain it to everyone else. The time is ripe.

Earlier, I referred in passing to Jacob Zuma as Former President. You’ve heard it said that fish start rotting from the head. There is a campaign afoot to refer to Jacob Zuma as Former President and declare him resigned as opposed to calling for his resignation. It’s a psychological tactic, of course; when Parliament and the Powers-That-Be have devoured themselves the way they have over one man, it’s too late to play by the standard rules.

When this campaign began, I roped a businessman into helping with it, and – against his lemming instinct – he agreed. The backlash was immediate: voices urging him to pretend that there was an option e.) began rebuking his choice to get involved in politics. He chose option c.) by supporting the campaign. I will name him here if he gives his permission. A week later, he says he feels more at peace with his decision. It was a step in the right direction, he feels. But you’ve got to join him.

Go into your office and consider your options, Business. Something as simple as forwarding this message to others via a link or an attachment; something as simple as tweeting about it will capture the attention of spectators and stun the polite sensibilities of other lemmings. And maybe they, too, will stop pretending that there is an option e.)

Because there is none.


#ZumaMustGo or #ZumasResigned? It Makes All The Difference

The DA vowed to “step up” efforts to have Former President Jacob Zuma impeached. Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane has said that the slogan should be #ZumaMustGo.

History will remember a sentence, a rallying cry, a catchphrase, a magic incantation, a hashtag, as the straw that broke the camel’s back and achieved the removal of Jacob Zuma from Presidency. That may be #ZumaMustGo but I have my doubts. In its every previous incarnation – as petitions, as every call for him to step down – #ZumaMustGo has failed. It can be recycled term after term, but I don’t see it succeeding.

Every time #ZumaMustGo has “stepped up” its efforts, a distraction has come along to dilute its power. That distraction has usually been a death that’s captured media attention. It is easy enough for the ANC to dip into South Africa’s bag of hideous crimes or tragic passings, pull one up into media attention (which it controls a significant portion of), and viola! Instant distraction. It’s just one tragedy that needs highlighting; as that story snowballs and distracts everyone, Zuma’s clean-up team works overtime and they get better at it each time. The media’s ability to amplify #ZumaMustGo is thusly diverted to covering the other story, and #ZumaMustGo falls again as a tired slogan.

The fact that #ZumaMustGo keeps coming back as an on-the-ground campaign shows that we know, though cannot explain, that whatever people shout on the ground can override what happens in Parliament. This is crucial to the success of #ZumaMustGo because left to its own devices, Parliament is rigged to keep Zuma in power. But even then, #ZumaMustGo has a fatal flaw: while its existence as a slogan – the fact that someone goes through the trouble of thinking one up – is proof that slogans shape discourse, shapes history, #ZumaMustGo does not tap into this power: it sends the decisive power right back to “them”. “Zuma must go”, the people say. But when? And who decides when? #ZumaMustGo leaves it to somebody else to get him to go. And that somebody else will decide when another round of investigations is done, or when another report is pooh-poohed.

In a stroke of unparalleled originality, Mmusi Maimane gave us a slogan that was created within the limitations he has to work within as a member of the establishment. He didn’t realize that in instances like these, he cannot be within and outside the establishment at the same time. The message on the ground is not for politicians, or media, or anyone else within these establishments to determine. It has never been. When everything aligns the way it has aligned, the people outside the establishment must find the slogan that shapes history, and they must thrust it into parliament, media and national discourse. It has never been for the people within the establishment to start those rallying cries or stir the crowds. It is not their place, and if they try to make it their place then at best, they simply give a slogan that traps everyone else in the same limitations that they experience as process-bound beaurocracies. They either cannot or are not allowed to have one original thought. #ZumaMustGo might end up serving to keep him in power for another full term.

WE the people can legally work around, beneath, above and beside the establishment. The establishment cannot think around, beneath, above and beside itself, let alone work around, beneath, above and beside itself. The DA is aware that another slogan has been created outside the establishment, that is #ZumasResigned; they’re aware of its offshoot, #FormerPresidentJacobZuma. They are aware that these slogans, and the activism behind them, may just be scandalous enough to outwit the ANC’s distraction strategies by capturing, and holding, media attention for a much longer time than #ZumaMustGo. The popularity of #ZumasResigned exploded last week, impacting more than half a million people within its first few days.

#ZumaMustGo is familiar, banal, predictable and safe.

#ZumasResigned is unsettling. #FormerPresidentJacobZuma is shocking. That makes it more effective.

If our collective psychological acknowledgement of Zuma as president is the chicken’s head, and its body is the legal, political and ambassadorial technicalities attendant to that head; that is, all the systemic acknowledgement that Zuma is president, then #ZumasResigned and #FormerPresidentJacobZuma are a chop off of the head. The body is doomed. It we believe, declare and spread that Zuma has resigned because we have resigned him as the people, the “body” of parliamentary decisions, investigations, tribunals, incestuously intra-party, inter-ministerial task teams, will be as good as a headless chicken. They will release press statements exonerating him to the public but the public will reply, “He has resigned, past tense”. It will force them into a corner or a collapse.

But #Zuma must go doesn’t strike at this head. It strikes at the same invulnerable parts it’s struck at before. Is that the cry that’s going to dethrone Zuma? I don’t know. It hasn’t worked before; why try it again? Someone read #ZumasResigned and said,

“I think I feel the way it’s meant to make me feel: I think the whole concept is incredulous and slightly absurd, yet a very healthy part of me is thinking ‘what if’? See, the way I see it, it’s not about a call to arms, a clear directorate or a mission statement; it’s powerful enough when people simply start thinking ‘but what if…’ It questions the status quo without direct, decide A or B intent. It gives people the idea to toy with about how much power they have as an individual. I think it’s superbly brilliant.”

When the processes have failed, you need a slogan that can evoke that feeling. The DA is very good at respecting the process but due to its nature as an establishment, it cannot be the source of slogans that shape discourse and history. If #ZumaMustGo fails, as I think it will, it will soon become a point of resentment with the DA’s electorate. And already the cracks are showing – people are asking, “But when?” It’s not a political party’s job to create these slogans; it’s a political party’s job to very carefully assimilate slogans created on the ground without worrying about who gets credit for creating them.

Yet the DA, knowing #ZumasResigned – knowing that such a slogan cannot coexist or co-function with another that presupposes that Zuma is still in power, such as #ZumaMustGo – went and rehashed the old one again. Which is really not another, but the same impotent message they’ve been playing for years.


It is not their place to solve the Zuma problem. Any pressure they feel to resolve it themselves is entirely misplaced. It’s the people’s job to outsmart Zuma, not the opposition party’s – for it can only work within the constraints imposed by politics. WE the people can work within the Constitution but also beyond, behind, beneath and beside the ruling and opposition parties.

The dreadful thing with #ZumaMustGo is that it gives you a feeling of having exercised power by spreading the hashtag. Which is true – you have exercised your power in hitting the ball back into Zuma’s court so he may decide when he goes. You have validated and entrenched the nonexistence of that which you want. The DA, with its conventional wisdom, is trapped in a system that it is powerless to use to impeach Zuma.

South Africans. Get clear about what’s happening.

If you say #ZumaMustGo, he will – but once he’s finished his term and wrecked this country because we’ll still be playing his game by his rules.

If you say #ZumasResigned it’s a complete game-changer. The world will take notice.

Choose wisely.

#ZumasResigned – #FormerPresidentJacobZuma


The Danger Of “Radical Feminism”

You’re a girl. You hear a person make a remark about “radical feminists”. You ask what those are. That person proceeds to tell you about men-hating, baby-killing, bra-burning godless social anarchists who hate motherhood, families and home-building. They’d take your Barbie and your dresses from you and force you to act like a boy.

You are traumatized by this presentation of “radical feminism” and decide you never want to be one of “them”. Years go by, and someone else tells you a bit more about feminism. Now it appears that the feminists had a point. You go back to speak to the first person or someone who thinks like him/her. That person proceeds to tell you, with a wise, knowing gaze, that yes, it’s good for women to have some rights. But these radical feminists push it too far, far beyond the edge of reason.

This person won’t tell you that every square inch of the human rights you have as a woman was always “too far” and “too much”. You take it for granted that you can drive, go to school, vote, testify in court, open a bank account in your own name and do many other things. You can say no to genital mutilation, take contraceptives, choose a life partner and choose a career. You can refuse to be married to whoever charms your father’s socks off.

At one point or another, each of these rights was “too far”, too much, the unthinkable, the destruction of society, the home and motherhood. It was a slap in God’s face, the unsexing of nature and the unsettling of civilization.

What people call “feminism”, I call logic. By calling it, firstly, feminism, patriarchs point out its difference from the status quo. Patriarchs point out that it is a danger to the status quo. The hearer automatically assumes that it is evil. But not every dangerous thing is evil nor every evil thing dangerous. And if the status quo is wrong then it must be threatened.

By calling it, secondly, “radical” feminism, patriarchs calibrate the whole conversation such that their worldview becomes the unquestioned ideal, the middle centre, the reasonable, the norm. This is easy because their worldview is the way things are and the way they’ve been for quite some time. They have history on their side. This makes feminists look like the unreasonable ones. By not pointing out what that radical feminism has achieved in the cross-winds of demonization, patriarchs make it seem as though the rights women do have now are rights they’ve always had and that radical feminists are the new kid on the block overreacting to a problem that doesn’t exist. Patriarchs either don’t know or neglect to admit that in countries where feminism has done its job, just about nobody has abortions because they don’t need to. The best way to combat abortion, if you hate it so much, is, paradoxically, radical feminism. Because when people are informed, empowered, and unencumbered, self-awareness and sanity start settling in. They start making smarter choices. The patriarchs also don’t point out that in countries where feminism has done its job, men don’t feel emasculated but are equally empowered and liberated to make their life choices without additional societal expectations dictating right and wrong where common decency should be sufficient. Because feminism is logic*, it really works for everyone at the end of the day.

But no, the patriarchs say, either ignorant of the truth or ignoring the truth: They’re the crazy ones. They’re “radical”. In movies about the past, we’ll see boys and girls going to school side-by-side when history shudders at such a notion. By saying that men and women have always enjoyed relatively equal rights, patriarchy makes “radical” feminism out to be the unnecessary disturbance; a peace-shattering, hysterical wail in the middle of the restful night. Patriarchy is them able to come across as even more reasonable by saying it supports a relaxing of gender roles (which makes perfect sense until you realize that “relaxing” can’t be quantified. How relaxed is relaxed enough? How much relaxation is too much?) but that the “radical” feminists must let go of this grudge they have, and they must peaceably embrace the roles God has assigned men and women. So much goes unexamined in these statements that it’s easier for the listener to submit to mental euthanasia of emotive persuasion than it is to aggressively kick down all the errors of such rhetoric.

When South Africa was under apartheid, there were many “progressive” people who agreed that black people needed a somewhat better education so they could have better jobs; that they deserved not to be mistreated as harshly as they were being. The status quo had to be “relaxed”. This progressive wasn’t a social outcast in respectable white communities of the time; he was “forward thinking”; he was even grudgingly admired for his idealistic, humane commitment to mercy.

But woe! unto the “radical” progressive who demanded full and equal legal, social and cultural rights for all regardless of race. That was just extreme, they were told. It was too much too soon. Perhaps in another decade, when enough of the dust had settled, things could improve more and more for the hapless native. But this dangerous idea of full, immediate and equal rights just would not do.

See? We’ve been here before.

Why am I a “radical feminist”? There are many reasons. But I remember watching, confused, as one mathematically gifted girl after another dropped maths and science because she wouldn’t need those subjects later in life. Girls who were top of the technical drawing class switched to other subjects like home economics that, as wonderful and needed as they are in life, already have an overrepresentation of girls and an underrepresentation of boys. Disturbed at such imbalance in the environment, I tried taking home economics on as a ninth subject but soon realized that 3 extra subjects was ridiculous. Yes, dropping maths and science was the girls’ choice – but was it really? Or is it possible that despite the appearance of legal equality between men and women, there are still psycho-social programs running in the background and taking us all back? I’d bet good money that those girls enjoyed the sciences but had been told they wouldn’t need them. At the end of the day, I fight for freedom of choice. Those girls made a choice, but I believe it was under social duress and maybe, arguably, not a choice at all.

Some will then point out that if it’s not men’s job to protect women, women will be endangered. This one element of patriarchy is needed, they’ll say. There is such a strong element of self-fulfilling prophecy in they statement I don’t know where to begin unpacking it, but it’s enough to say that the most effective way for a man to protect women is to propagate feminism. Or, as I like to call it, “logic”. This certainly doesn’t mean one never puts one’s life on the line to protect others. It does mean being vigilant about the many faces of subtle and insidious inequality.

Patriarchy can look so, so benevolent; in fact, many patriarchs are genuinely benevolent people. But they subscribe to an evil and dangerous system. To confront it, you need a greater danger. Our past leaders, such as Former President Jacob Zuma and Minister Susan Shabangu, did not seem to grasp what was at stake. “Radical feminism” is the only workable answer.

*I still often call “feminism” by that name, and not just “logic”, because I wouldn’t wish to erase the history, legacy and distinctiveness of this movement. Judith Butler, Michael Foucault and Fred Kinsey had different voices.


Open Letter to the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities

Dear Minister Susan Shabangu

I am terribly disappointed in you and the example you are setting for girls in this country. You are in a position of power, yet you are a woman. How is this possible? Were you not taught that your place was to be a typist, secretary, nurse, teacher, receptionist or personal assistant*? Because those jobs are reserved exclusively for women.

Women cannot aspire to be engineers, policewomen, doctors, athletes, CEOs or take on other fields dominated by men. Men, not women, must be Cabinet Ministers, because men work under ministers in government departments. How, then, can you head a department if you’re a woman and have men in your staff? This is a violation of the natural law.

Women have a nurturing, welcoming, helpful, pliant and submissive nature, and that is where your talents as a woman lie. You exist to be seen but not heard; to beautify front desks and warm homes with your loving, accommodating presence. The warmth of that presence flows out of a feminine disposition that – by some mysterious secret hidden in Nature’s Bosom – inexhaustibly gives of itself, never says no, never asserts boundaries, never exercises power in a way that intimidates men, never makes decisions as decisively as men, never takes pioneering steps like those that men take (what was Madame Curie thinking?), never tires of looking out for the needs of others at great expense, takes all the blame when abused and never walks away from dangerously abusive relationships. This disposition is infinitely nice. You are sugar and spice. Your identity is peripheral. Why are you a minister?

Leadership is unthinkable if you’re a woman, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you about your actual essence. You only feel like you can run a government ministry. But you can’t because you are emotional (understandable, because you’re a woman) and as wonderful and adorable as those feelings are, sweetheart, they deceive you. If you studied and worked your way up – well, good for you! You know, every woman needs a hobby to occupy your time and isn’t it just cute that you’d try politics? But ministry? Government? That’s taking your hobby too far. Politics is serious business. It’s not right for men’s work to be taken on by women. It’s unAfrican. Women shouldn’t be in such power-driven fields.

Speaking of feelings and how they disqualify women from being in politics, I should point out that a position such as yours ought to be filled out by a man because men have no such feelings that cause lapses in judgment. Okay, that’s not true: men are allowed to feel anger, especially when they’re protecting women, fulfilling the role you’ve arbitrated to them. Because nothing quite says “protector” like invulnerability, and nothing quite says “invulnerable” like anger. Of course, men are allowed some tender and vulnerable emotions, but not when dealing with other men: they’re only allowed something approaching these emotions when with women, who are less-than men. Tender emotions are sissifying and it’s okay for men to experience and express those emotions when with women because women aren’t to be feared, as fellow invulnerable men are. Women aren’t fully human because women aren’t men. Even then, men mustn’t be too open, too vulnerable with women. What’s the solution? Oh yes, I know: the best way for men to mask any unmet emotional needs behind that façade of invulnerability is through sex. That’s why men want sex with women, many women, all the time. It makes perfect sense, now.

Never mind that this places an incredible burden on women to meet men’s suppressed and, by that point, distorted emotional needs through sex, and that the need is never fully expressed or met, for that matter. What a burden your worldview places on both men and women. But what shall we do? It’s the way things are, the natural given. When you agreed with sentiments that women should submit to their husbands – or when you failed to challenge such sentiments, but instead nodded at them – you foisted a worldview on this country that cannot be limited to just intra-marital relations. Women submit to husbands because men and women are inherently such that women must submit to men, no? If this is to happen within the home, then it is to happen outside the home, because the requirement for submission presupposes things about men and women that must be true of men and women whether they’re at home or not. Men do not go to work as subordinates-to-women and then return home where they magically transform into kings-over-women. Women do not go to work where they call shots and make strategic decisions only to return home to transform into dainty, delicate supporters and trophies. Such orchestrated, inorganic transformations would betray role-playing. We’re not a society that encourages people to be other than what they naturally are, are we, Minister?

If women are to submit to men, it’s because they’re naturally inferior. That’s the only thing I can work out from your words.

We don’t like resigning two politicians in the space of 8 days but Former President Jacob Zuma was resigned because he wasn’t admitting accountability for anything within or outside his jurisdiction. A President who keeps passing the buck may as well not exist. And you have asked for your own resignation because – like another female minister – you have presented the country a fundamental contradiction. This is no wonder, for you’re both women. Minister Lindiwe Sisulu once said that 20 years is not enough time to fix apartheid’s effects. After elections, she said nobody under 40 was affected by apartheid. History changed to her convenience; she undermined the argument she used to get people to vote ANC. Likewise, you’ve made a statement that’s undermined you as a female politician. We have not resigned you, nor would we call for your resignation. We don’t have to. Out of your own mouth you have spoken words that make you irrelevant to your own portfolio: you’re a woman, and you have – by saying that women should submit to men – unseated yourself.

If the protection of women is to fall to men as though it were a permanent role, and women must submit to husbands, it follows that women’s place is as wives and helpers to men from whom they receive social and physical protection. I will not point out the irony in combating violence against women and children by appealing to the patriarchal mindset that causes such violence. I will, however, state that in their rush to prove that they are good protectors and therefore “real” men, men end up destroying the women they’re supposed to protect. Nor will I point out that in a country wherein all are equal before the Law and the State does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, men who do not fit into your definition of men will forever be “othered” by the worldview you’ve brought to the table.

Minister, you are not fit for office. Leave the big jobs to the boys. In return, we’ll look at their gender before we look at their capabilities or results. Whether you see that or not, you have taught us to do exactly that.

Thank you.

*In my personal capacity, I have played the roles of typist, secretary, nurse, teacher, receptionist and assistant, and would take absolute pride in having any of them as an actual, permanent career if my talents were in any of those directions. But Minister Shabangu’s worldview has taught me that it’s inferior of me as a man to wish to exercise helpful, nurturing or empathetic aspects of my nature. So glad we’re all clear about our places, now.



Another post-script.
If men have the role of protectors, are other-abled men lesser men, insofar as their disabilities interfere with their role as protectors? Hm. You’re their Minister. Let us know

ANC Insider Secrets: An Analysis

[This is a somewhat long post; I have stuck to essentials in writing it]

Occasionally, someone from within the African National Congress divulges sensitive information about it in the public domain. While I would never share what he says through my inbox, I have not betrayed his confidence. These statements are in the open for anyone who takes his position within the ANC seriously enough to scrutinize what he himself says about the Party.

During one of our online debates, I questioned why we have as many tribal chiefs as we have, earning as much as they earn. He responded in Zulu, “Limit your activism to just Jacob Zuma. Don’t draw your grave closer while it’s still far from you. There is still much that you could do for South Africa but drop the chiefs’ issue.” This is an ardent Zuma fan.

When we asked him what he meant and whether he was threatening me, he replied, “I am not. It’s a friendly warning. You yourself are Zulu. You know that if you touch royals, especially in KZN, how people react. It’s a friendly warning” and also “Please join the DA if you haven’t become a member. I believe you are an asset to this country”.

In other words, this ANC member would rather have had me in the DA, where I would be taught the political etiquette of not rocking the boat insofar as indigenous royalty is concerned. The alternative was me, dead.

It’s interesting that the ANC has no direct control over what Zulus and other tribes do and don’t do. If it did exert more influence, its culpable deniability would vanish. If the ANC can just play to that group’s tribal love of all things Zulu, and hire Zulu persons into positions of prominence, then the Party will always have an army of loyalist Zulu disciples ready to defend the Party that recognizes its cultural prominence. Copy and paste for every other group. Hence the chiefs and a Constitution that recognizes them.

The fact that the ANC buys this loyalty without being able to control how the loyalty is expressed means that the ANC cannot be held responsible for what the Zulus do, and if what the Zulus do just to happens to coincide with what the ANC wanted to happen anyway – well, who are we to question the mysterious hand of Providence?

The problem here is that this tribalism is the puzzle piece that holds xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism together. If the government actually took decisive, believable steps (not just token steps) towards eradicating these attitudes, it would also erode the unquestioning loyalty with which these tribalists worship the government that currently employs Zulus in ways that validates their claim to tribal superiority.

There is an army of NGOs dying to research and resolve xenophobia, homophobia and sexism because the Constitution calls for that paradigm shift. Our crime, rape, poverty and unemployment issues could be resolved. But we can’t afford to resolve them too effectively, lest the psychological stronghold of the ANC be threatened.

This is why there is a greater army of government/parastatal officials dragging their feet on allowing and enabling those NGOs to do their work. Have you ever found yourself trying to explain to the Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities that feminist findings are crucial to understanding women’s issues? Or that remaining silent about anti-gay laws in other countries is wrong? or that bigoted slurs in City Hall are unacceptable? If these paradigm shifts towards tolerance began, the ruling party would start to lose the traditional leaders’ support. Also, the people exposed to such nuanced ideas about diversity would soon reject the discriminatory mindset beneath tribalism. Mbeki was right about the demon of tribalism. Like a double-edged sword or a tokoloshe, this demon can bind while empowering; it cures one wound while inflicting another. The ANC is politics’ most puzzling paradox: no Party has ever enjoyed such a fierce following with such little overt tyranny in the midst of this much voter dissatisfaction. It shouldn’t add up. It doesn’t.

Until you understand Tribalism.

This is where liberalism shoots itself in the foot: because we must protect people’s right to practice their culture, questioning these mindsets is tantamount to violating people’s right to their cultures. “We have one of the most liberal Constitutions in the world!” – and therein lies the rub.

To question the president’s commitment to the advancement of women’s rights becomes an infringement upon his right to live as his culture allows. His polygamous ways and their cost to the State must not enter the fray of questionable issues. To question a young black man’s undying loyalty to an older Zulu father figure in the ANC (it used to be IFP with Buthelezi until the mostly-Xhosa ANC did a bit of math and rolled out the Zuma 0.1) isn’t simple intellectual probing to find out why people continue voting for a party that’s raised corruption to a form of entertainment for the public: for a young black man searching for an identity, such probing is a cultural slap in the face to all things Zulu. Now that a Zulu man is President, to be Zulu is to be ANC and my friend from the ANC isn’t shy to remind me of this despite the Party’s supposed opposition to tribalism.

Political correctness says not to look for the line between simple intellectual probing and “intolerant” cultural criticism. Liberalism says it’s taboo to even approach the terrain, let alone look for a line. “If you don’t agree with the President having his many wives you are intolerant of our culture and you suffer from what we call ‘inferiority complex’,” my source pointed out. Oh look: the biological coincidence of being born Zulu means you may never engage in feminist critical thinking. You become a “kleva blaq” with an inferiority complex. For how else do we explain your choice to question the binding cultural package attached to that blackness? “We explain it by calling it critical thought” you may say. Well how dare you suggest that something in this culture of the Zulus – divines, heavenly people – may be critically thought about? More personally, is this how you repay your parents for pouring the only worldviews they knew into you while also taking the risk of sending you to get an education that could cause you to question as you’re doing now? This is intended to bring about a Niagara Falls of guilt. The brilliance of this tactic is that it isn’t taught: it doesn’t have to be. A piercing look of disapproval – one, “What kind of Zulu are you?” – is all it takes.

But the effectiveness of holding young black people ideological captive to whatever someone else conveniently defines their blackness to mean pales – pales – in comparison to the effectiveness of tacitly holding white people hostage to their guilt over colonialism and apartheid. Behind the smiling sheath of “working together we can do more” is concealed the sword of one question: how dare you, the one people-group that could fund this working-together, now even question black people’s right to exist the way that was handed down by their ancestors? You must fund the restoration of their heritage.

Heritage. Hey, let’s hold a huge ANC rally. Someone comes along and asks, “What is this?”

It’s heritage.

It’s culture.

Please ignore the ANC vehicles and banners and tents and chants. Please don’t look for the line between traditional dancing and praising Zuma.

If you question whether the State can afford to spend this much on campaigning for the ANC heritage, you get the glare.

The ANC knows that there is this undisclosed perception that the tribal people on the ground are more powerful than the government. Anyone can take the government to court and haggle with the State on western terms. But the Zulus are an untested and unknown “other”: by always having them nearby, the ANC effectively says, “If you could get rid of us, hypothetically, would you be prepared to deal with them, now that we’ve gotten them hooked on the endless procession of Zulu-validating actions, words and figureheads?” Of course, “we” couldn’t deal with “them” so we turn away from the problem and leave it on the back-burner for another blogger to think about. Because this problem, once faced, paralyzes us and unravels the rainbow nation in a single stroke. How do you critique the mindsets that are so closely linked to the culture without criticizing the culture and losing your liberalist card, or, for that matter, violating the Constitution that recognizes the validity of these cultures, which in turn enables the ANC to play this game?

There is just no neat answer to “the masses” and that’s why tax-paying South Africans don’t have the balls to crack the whip in terms of accountability and financial management. If we had to really question the ANC on Nkandla or dethrone Zuma through a campaign like #ZumasResigned, we’d also have to question the ANC on why, exactly, the government spends well over R600 million a year on the tribal kings. I mean why stop at “western” unjustified spending? If Zuma’s Nkandla can be questioned, then every Zulu man’s right to be king of his castle is called into question. To question Nkandla is to question Zulu-ness. And how dare you, white person/kleva blaq/ presume that your way of being in the world is better than theirs just because you’re supposedly more educated/have thrown your roots aside/ and according to whose definition of education are you educated? In the culture, as some define it, to be educated is to listen to your elders. Western education and critical thought make you an outcast. “Decolonize the mind” (read: stop critical thought) and you may have your blackness back.

If you complain that you have a right to say what self-sustaining (and not state-funded) initiatives you want your taxes tipped into, you’ll be gently reminded that,

1.) The injustices of the past must be addressed because 20 years was not enough time to fix them (unless you’re under 40 and need a house – then suddenly, history changes, and you should have sorted yourself out you lazy bum. You were never affected by apartheid because the government fixed its effects so long ago that no 39 year old was affected.)

2.) Parastatals don’t exist to make a profit or self-sustain. Sustainability? Don’t be ridiculous, this is Africa. These entities are there to help fulfill certain race and gender quotas, as well as redress the injustices of the past via the quotas in which personnel are procured. But such tokenism is exposed for the money-looting front it is when one person after another is found to have lied about his/her qualifications. While you were feeling terrible for demanding that these entities’ books get out of the red, they were stealing your money, delivering shoddy produce and, in the end, collapsing into strikes and bankruptcy. #ZumasResigned.

3.) if you complain, for example, that certain soccer heroes aren’t entitled to State-funded funerals, you’re racist. Or if you’re black, you have an inferiority complex. Because what self-respecting black man doesn’t worship soccer stars that somehow magically impart self-esteem and identity to young black men everywhere? And if you don’t “get” soccer, well are you really a black man? See? The government is doing you a favor by using tax money to pay for Meyiwa’s funeral, and if you question this particular Robin Hoodism as it dips into white taxes to pay for black sports’ heroes funerals, you’ve betrayed blackness as a whole.

If you’re white and you speak out, you’ll be reminded of how you benefited from apartheid. You should just feel guilty and continue paying taxes. Don’t question if the books are in the red, if companies are being bailed out or if “strategically placed” deployees are driving BMWs.

This confluence of factors makes public sector a cesspool of patriarchy, corruption and double-talk where the attitude is nothing like what’s on paper or in its quotas. Or as another poster put it, “Oh yes because gender quota means there’s been real change. Political structures have gender quotas that have these women voiceless and unable to have a real opinion unless it is aligned with their male counterparts. I know this from experience,” she said, before explaining how in some places it was standard procedure for women submit – even bodily – to the male hegemony in order to keep their semblance of empowerment in these spaces.

Now you’re thinking surely the Public Protector is able to weed some of the financial corruption out? Surely the Human Rights Commission is able to address some cases of human rights’ violations? Perhaps. My source from the ANC seemed to voice a complaint about this when he said, “Thuli Madonsela is the only ANC deployee who doesn’t take her mandate from Luthuli House” which is an explosive statement filled with gems of possible confessions. Now, maybe you’re thinking that I’m reading this statement incorrectly. Surely, my ANC-insider friend is merely affirming the independence of the Public Protector’s office? Surely, my friend isn’t saying that Luthuli House has a network of its own people placed strategically in all places to protect the interests of the Party, and that Madonsela alone rebels agaist this established order? You wish. “I can’t go against ANC resolution. No one is biggger than the ANC. Even Parliamment takes its mandate from Luthuli House and the NEC” he said. That’s not difficult if Parliament also has deployees even in the most powerful – and “impartial” – positions of Parliament. “She [not sure at this point whether we were speaking about the Public Protector, but it may have been Baleka Mbethe] was strategically deployed by the ANC in that office, and all deployees report to the Secretary or to the Secretary-General. I mean all deployees, thousands across the country, in strategic spheres of government,” my source said, before explaining his family’s roots in the Party and how the ANC was more than just a name. He often repeated that the ANC was “bigger than anything else”.

I was then reminded of how I should be grateful for my human right to express myself. “Siya for the fact that you wrote this about a sitting Head of State &amp [sic]; government of an African country and the government respects your opinion even thou we don’t like it, it means there is good in the ANC-led government… if you were in Zimbabwe and you wrote this ‘Jesus’.”

I am an African, and therefore should feel extraordinarily privileged if allowed any room to speak out. Speaking out is not something Zulus and Africans do: we fall in line, no?

At another point I touched on the question of nuclear power, and its price tag of R1 trillion.

“Dude Siya Khumalo so that we can have weapons of mass destruction… you think President Zuma is an idiot? who made South Africa become part of BRICS? also as RSA we have ambitions of getting a permanent seat in the UN for Africa, you can’t get a seat if you are not a ‘Power’ country… The USA has those weapons,UK has those weapons,France has those weapons,Russia has those weapons and also China and other big countries of the world you see why North Korea is not bombed by the Americans when its ideology is Socialism its because its security it very tight unlike Libya and Iraq which was weakened by the ‘Gulf war’ my friend we can’t have radical economic policies if our government is not military strong because the West will give money to groups that will want to remove our government (insurgents) if we would ever differ with them in terms of how things are run, you see EFF policies cannot be implemented in RSA for 2 reasons it will set a precedent for the rest of Africa and they won’t be able to milk us dry (West) and we will be bombed like Libya,Afghanistan and other Socialists countries lol will tell you one day about why we need that Nuclear plant its for security reasons. Actually I shouldn’t be saying this for security reasons.”

Not even I can analyze that.