Borrowed suits, borrowed ideas, borrowed time: this is South Africa
The election circus is getting rowdy, and it’s just getting started
The election is exactly three weeks away and our politicians are racing about like young labradors; yapping, whining, sticking their noses into people’s fridges, and generally humping the public’s leg with all the enthusiasm of creatures blessed with endless energy and no concept of lasting consequences.
To be fair, some are pacing themselves for the final sprint. Julius Malema, for example, waited until yesterday to take his first ever ride on a metro train. (I specify “metro” because, of course, he’s been aboard the Gravy Express for over a decade, first boarding at Limpopo before taking the 100% For Zuma line via Ratanang Trust to Parliament.)
The rest, however, are going hell for leather.
The DA, long accused of failing to come up with its own ideas, has upped its game by borrowing much higher quality stuff than usual, in this case, Childish Gambino’s This Is America.The party’s new campaign video features various ANC and EFF misdeeds, and is a hard-hitting look at what happens when South African advertising agencies try to riff off material that is far above their intellectual and creative pay-grade, and offers us a chilling glimpse of a future in which the DA makes more of these sorts of things.
The Freedom Front Plus has also changed gears. Having started its campaign with the slogan “Slaan Terug! Nou of nooit!”, it has now opted for placards showing three life forms wearing human meat suits, painfully simulating expressions of friendliness. I think one of them is a Mulder. Pieter? Fox? I lost track in the 1990s. The other is probably Pieter Marais, or was at one point. I don’t know who the third is, but I assume it’s a backup suit in case either of the other two decompresses. The slogan reads: “Dis mos JOU mense.” It is less a declaration than an accusation.
Still, I would argue that these placards are a step in the right direction, or, in the FF+’s case, a step in the far-right direction: “Slaan Terug!” is still their official campaign slogan, but perhaps they’ve started realising that if they were to actually slaan anyone they’d be klapped right back to 1948. Which, to be fair, is probably where they’d be happiest.
No party, however, has yet topped the ANC when it comes to laughably ludicrous promises. Assuming the government started building the day after Cyril Ramaphosa promised Alexandra one million houses in five years, today will see the completion of the 3,287th new house. What? They haven’t started yet? I’m shocked, shocked! Still, no need to panic: they’ve still got 1,819 days, which means they only need to complete 23 houses every hour, non-stop, for five years.
I’m being facetious, of course. These numbers are meaningless. The only two numbers that matter to the ANC are 21 and 50.1. That’s how many days are left before we vote, and the percentage of those votes it needs before it can walk back Ramaphosa’s promises. “Tablets in schools? Yes, every child will be given one Panado.”
Come to think of it, I’ll take two of those, thanks: it’s about to get even noisier.