– be careful what you wish for, you might just get it….. –
Thank God for the public broadcaster. Sunday a week ago, South Africa’s opposition party the DA had its weekend in the sun. It was the weekend of legacy handover, the entire Saturday was dedicated to its former leader Helen Zille. Speaker after speaker singing her praise.
“We would like to thank all media represented here today, in particular the SABC whom we had to drag to court tobe here today”, these were the words of Ethel Trollip, the comeback kid of DA election party politics.
Indeed the SABC was there be it dragged through a court order or not it was there. The intention was clear the DA wanted to use the weekend’s internal elections as its first major rally for the 2016 Municipal Elections. The choice of Port Elizabeth was no mistake or coincidence, it is as clear as the opposition could make it, there next aim is the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan node as the second DA political power spot – securing the Cape west to east. With this in mind an event was put together. It therefore was important to get all the publicity andmileage from this event – no resources were spared to achieve this aim.
Cut forward to the Sunday, then there came the moment for the announcement yes the announcement scripted, of the former leader in typical Sepp Blatter style asking for the envelope, to announce a ‘winner’ of the host of the proverbial world-cup two ‘worlds cups’ away.
Cut back to Saturday evening at the induction of Helen Zille into the pantheon of smart leadersby Allister Sparks. Sparks then becomes the nightmare of the spin doctors, since in a moment, all the time, money, resources and effort spent on is witnessed going up in smoke and no amount of spin can undo it, because we saw it, we heard it since the SABC was dragged to court to be there, fortunately.
The case can thus me made that Maimane was handed the baton not by Zille, neither by any of the DA leaders but a dead, buried and now resurrected Verwoerd as eulogized by Sparks.
It becomes important to ask who is Allister Sparks, Sparks is the embodiment of a lifetime of journalism, public commentary, political analysis starting from Malan to this present Zuma era, in his own words. So Sparks was around in 1948 with the establishment of the Apartheid State. Sparks was around with the Defiance Campaign, the banning of the ANC, the start of MK. Sparks lived through the arrests at Lilliesfarm and the subsequent Rivonia Trial. He was present plying his trade during the strangled – deaths of the organizations in the 1960’s, the forced removals of black people, be it in Sophiatown or District Six.
Sparks was around at the height of Black Consciousness, the student uprise in 76, the forming of COSATU, the formation and launch of the UDF, the activities of the MDM, the Tri-Cameral system experiment to bamboozle the people of South Africa in acceptance of half-baked solution as the alternate to the Apartheid State. Sparks was around in the mid-to late 80’s student uprise as led by the Cape, Sparks was there when the Talks about Talks took place.
Sparks, he was around when millions voted for the first time in claim of democratic franchise. Sparks lived through all of the 21 years of democracy. He commented, he opined and articulated meticulously and authoritatively from Malan to Zuma, hence when he took the podium and was handed the microphone, it was to give stature this moment of oppositionpolitics.
No one thus was more qualified, none more erudite than Allister Sparks, handpicked to give credence to this moment, on his shoulders and illustrious career a Helen Zille would leave and a Maimane will emerge. Niklos the emerging philosopher contends ‘there is something infants and old folk have in common, they speak the truth innocently’, Sparks clearly spoke the truth innocently and could not even understand why there was such a fuss made of his Verwoerd admiration.
What happened next no analyst,soothsayer or modern day prophet could preempt, no choreographer could design and clearly no spindoctor can now fix, because the SABC was there, and we the public saw this for ourselves in real time. Fortunately. We saw, we heard him go through a list of smart politicians who happened to all be white politicians. This list was dovetailed with the guest of honour, Helen Zille, the person of the hour.
The only problem is that somewhere among the listed ones, was a strange fellow, the epicentre of apartheid, the force behind segregation, the embodiment of black – hate, who was inspired by Adolf Hitler in claim of white supremacy.
Hendrik Verwoerd the nightmare of every African, now would define the finalmoment of the final chapter of Zille’s leadership. The stench from this sparked emissions enveloped the room, settling on the evening gown of Helen Zille forthese were words to eternalize her. And didn’t it? Yet she is associated not with Mandela, not with Biko but with Verwoerd and by implication with Hitler. All this in her finest moment.
We the public saw this, we heard it because the SABC was there. Fortunately. Because no spin-doctor can ever challenge what we have heard. Neither can a belated claim of senility as attempted by the DA’s usual spin.
Zille, eternalized into that pantheon of “SMART POLITICIANS” and no amount, of her protesting with audible NO, NO, NO – Nee, Nee, Nee could alter her induction in this pantheon. The SABC showed how Zille in moment of induction into this legacy of smart politicians is whisked away from the cameras and microphones of SABC for she was audible and there was no pre-approved or vetted script from the forever spin-doctor politics of the DA.
If Zille’s induction came at the un-vetted remarks of a Sparks in admiration of a Verwoerd and by extension Hitler, Mmusi Maimane’s coronation to high office in opposition politics did not escape the resurrected Verwoerd’s crown, cloak and scepter, because the public broadcaster was there and we are all duly informed.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine