Why I'm going to vote again after 16 years

courtesy Wikipedia

The first time I voted in an election, was back in 1994, generally regarded as South Africa’s first truly democratic elections. That was also the last time I voted.

It was a euphoric moment and my expectations were high; maybe too high. Soon thereafter I came to really know the vile creature known commonly as a politician. The ANC who were voted into power by a substantial margin, wasted no time in mutating into that which they had fought against, that which we who were disenfranchised, had all grown to despise.

I watched in despair and anger over the years as the politicians lied, cheated, deceived, stole, cajoled, pledged, broke their promises and then lied, cheated, deceived, stole, cajoled and pledged some more. Poor Democracy! He was getting it up the rear in equal measure to Lady Justice who was constantly being raped. As the politicians cheered this sodomy and rape of our constitutional and justice systems respectively, their proselytes and beneficiaries licked their lips in glee, while the majority of the people wrapped themselves tighter in ignorance, or just did not give a shit.

I decided to abstain from voting; abstain from endorsing this sick process.

However, recent events around the continent where despots were being hounded out of office, and the current demonstrations in Egypt, against a resolute scumbag in office, have compelled me to review my decision. I have decided to look at the voting process philosophically, rather than with anger. Instead of viewing my vote as FOR a political party, I now view it as AGAINST a particular party; the incumbent ruling party which has been the source of my disdain.

I now realise that it is imperative to send a loud and clear message to these cretins that we’ve had enough. We may not be able to dislodge them entirely, but at least we could weaken them somewhat.

I now realise that this is much better than the alternative – rioting and demonstrating in the streets of South Africa 10 years from now, to force them out.

Some timely tips from Croatia and Korea for South African politicians

This week  Croatian politician Josko Kraljevic Risa, running for the position of mayor of Prolozac (*LOL, is this town low on Prozac?) in southern Croatia, with the slogan “All for me, nothing for you,” finished second in the 1st round of elections, forcing a run-off election at the end of the month with the incumbent mayor.

Risa who also campaigned with the alternative slogan “It is definitely going to be better for me, but will be the same for you,” seems to have made a huge impression with on the locals with his (un-politician-like) honest approach. One local, Ivan Vjisnic, commented that “We’re going to get ripped off no matter who takes over. At least he’s being honest and up front about it. And he has said that if things get better for him then they will get better for us.” You can’t beat that logic, now, can you?

South African politicians, take note: you don’t have to promise the world to the electorate to win elections. The winning formula is to promise little, but deliver much. And in case you’re wondering, we’re as smart as the Croatians; we know you lot are going to rip us off too, no matter what little “good” you do manage to deliver.

The second tip comes from South Korea and concerns one of South Africa’s favorite pastimes: corruption. The former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, who was involved in a corruption scandal, committed suicide earlier today, by jumping off a mountain. A local television news report indicated that Roh left a suicide note, which apparently said that life was “difficult” and apologised for making “too many people suffer.”

Now, I’m not suggesting that all corrupt South African politicians jump off the nearest mountain. If your cozy corrupt life has left you a bit too round in the midriff area, you are unlikely to make it up a mountain. For you fat-fucks, South Africa has some of the most beautiful high bridges in the world, which would suffice as an adequate alternative. How about it, then? You know who you are!

Why should we be grateful when politicians do the right thing?

The new government under Jacob Zuma is barely two weeks old, and they’ve already got a taste of the riches that await them. Newly appointed Minister of  Transport, S’bu Ndebele received a R1-million Mercedes Benz S500, some cattle and a plasma television set, at a party last Sunday, as  gifts from a consortium of contractors, who could potentially be benefactors of multi-million rand government contracts.

And it took all of four days for Ndebele to decide to hand them back, even after the President of the country said it was acceptable to receive gifts, if they were declared properly. Declared? I’m seriously missing something here. Why bother after the whole country is already aware of the receipt of the gifts. Of more concern though, is the fact that the leader of the country, Jacob Zuma saw nothing wrong with the whole thing, and made no effort to set an example for clean governance.

Now, the South African taxpayers are expected to be grateful that he did the right thing. We are expected to thank him for being honest and ethical; and the disgusting thing is that some of us did. In real democracies around the world, the citizens wait for an opportunity to exercise their right, to throw a dishonest politician out on his thieving ass. In South Africa the citizens wait for an opportunity to thank a politician for doing his job, sincerely.

Since this disgraceful episode, I have this mental picture of hastily convened meetings where our public servants are feverishly discussing innovative new ways of receiving gifts under the table, and keeping it secret from us, the “disrespectful, inquisitive” public. Are we supposed to strap in for the next five years, and grudgingly count the gifts that are accepted and “declared,” while we publicly praise these miscreants for those that are refused?

Is this the world’s most lethal coctail?

While pursuing the Taliban discussion on-line yesterday, the topic of ancient cultures arose. A question was raised as to why we celebrate ancient cultures from deep in the Amazon and darkest Africa, but find the culture of the Taliban so repulsive. Which got me thinking (yes, that heretical process that gets religionists all riled up :)).

Most ancient cultures that have been kept hidden from the world, are a mystery to us (modern man) and to satisfy our curiosity and the need to learn, we naturally seek them out. These cultures have remained hidden, simply because the adherents, having no beef with the modern world, value their privacy and isolation (and would have remained blissfully isolated had they not been discovered). The striking thing about these cultures is that there is no impetus to force their culture upon the modern world. In effect they pose no threat to modern man, or his civilized values. Therefore, the civilized thing to do would be to “celebrate” these cultures from afar, and leave them the hell, alone. But modern man feels the overwhelming desire to “help” these people, and thus have we destroyed many ancient cultures forever.

However, every once in a while we come across old or ancient cultures that possess certain cultural traits that are in conflict with modern values and morals. One such culture is that of the Taliban; old yes, but loathsome, backward and just plain loopy by modern standards. They are not so mysterious, because we have read and interpreted most of their written ideology; what remains a mystery though is why they themselves have such wide interpretations of their own writings. Such a culture is ripe for manipulation by wily politicians, with self-serving agendas.

Now consider that culture’s evil partner is religion. Nothing stirs the emotions and gets people into a frenzy, like religion. And consider that all you need to marry these evil partners, is a crafty politician. What better politician than a cleric (an  imam in the case of the Taliban); and he has the “god-given” power to consecrate the marriage too. In this combination, we expose probably the world’s most lethal cocktail: politics, religion and culture. When these three elements come together, death and destruction and sorrow, always follow.

Take away the politically deviant cleric, and the morally bankrupt religion, and the Taliban would be just medieval delinquents, with their puss-filled culture slowly rotting away in the stinking desert, and the world would have, not only been none the wiser…but even safer.

People who did not vote in the SA elections: Apathetic or Principled?

I’m one of those who did not vote.

The election farce has happily come and gone; it means I don’t have to be constantly insulted by the politician’s outrageous lies for another five years at least. In the aftermath, I read in an on-line publication today, that those who did not vote in South Africa’s general elections yesterday, are apathetic, unpatriotic etcetera. One commentator in fact recommended that non-voters should have exercised their democratic rights and participated, and then made their displeasure towards the candidates known, by spoiling their votes. I will explain later why this is a really bad idea. If I had not made myself clear in a previous post, as to why I will not vote, and in fact did not vote, then let me reiterate and add further reasons for my perceived apathy.

I firmly maintain that my vote is akin to a precious commodity. In exchange for my vote (in a democratic political system), a political candidate should reciprocate by rendering a public service that is in the interests of all citizens, and is indeed necessary for the smooth functioning of that (democratic) system. It is therefore incumbent upon the candidate to earn that vote. In the current South African context, no politician has yet earned any votes, through repeated (from past elections) voilations of the process of reciprocation. To put it bluntly, South African politicians are either entirely self-serving (as is the case with the incumbent government), or serve narrow interest groups (such as the opposition parties who represent racial or other types of minorities). When I find a politician or political party that actually earns my vote, I will cast it gladly.

And so we come to that curious bunch of do-gooders who have this romanticised view of the world; who think it is noble to participate in the election process, but show your disapproval of the electoral candidates, by spoiling your vote. It might make for good reading in a political novel, but the reality is ultimately quite different. Do you actually think that the victors of an election will stop for ten seconds and ponder the fact that a thousand, or even tens of thousands of people spoilt their votes? From experience, these politicians are far too arrogant to even give one second of consideration to the fact that some, or many people did not vote. The number of votes lost, or not cast is inconsequential to any victorious politician; said politician is by this time, already too busy figuring out how to “redistribute” your taxes; in no small part to himself and his cronies.

Finally, I need to address those well-meaning members of the public, who have repeatedly castigated potential non-voters prior to the elections. These reprimands were mostly spread through e-mails, warning us not to complain about any objectionable elected officials, if we chose not to  participate in the election process (and supposedly **pause to laugh** ensure that a better candidate won). The purveyors of this idea, go on to state that by default, non-voters give up their right to complain or participate further in the democratic process. Another noble, if somewhat unenlightened idea. In truth, the fact that I surrender (even, if unwillingly) a large part of my earnings as taxes, and indeed contribute to the (mostly unjustified) salaries of the elected officials, gives me every right to participate in the democratic process to determine how the money is spent; and consequently allows me access to the vehicles for complaint. As an analogy consider that the employees in a company do not decide the management structure, but have the right to complain (and seek restitution) over unfair labour practices by any member of that structure.

In probably all organizations (a country can be viewed as a very large organization), where decisions are reached through a system of voting, there are abstentions; for reasons of strategy, ill-health or otherwise valid reason, even apathy. Consider that an abstention could also be just simply a matter of principle; something that is all too expediently sacrificed these days…

A personal message to all politicians in tommorrow’s general elections

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The arrogance continues…

And continuing with the theme this week of venting some spleen, how can the recent outbursts against the press, by Jessie Duarte, ANC spokeswomen go unchallenged?

Only this weekend, she layed into Sunday Times journalist, Philani Nombembe. To the question (by Nombembe) “Does the ANC President also get to answer (responses from his blog)?” she replied:

“He’s got his own blog. Yes. You can write to him if you want to. It’s ancpresident. In fact if you go www you can link straight from there to any of our blogs. Ja, he does read it. He does, he does. You know he can actually read, contrary to your opinion. I mean how can you ask me a question like that you know, does the ANC President actually read? Good God. Can you guys just get a life now. Ja no, you must get a life. You people must get a life. You’re terribly classist and if you’re not black I would say you were racist. But, well I suppose you could be racist even if you were a black like me. But you’ve got a very bad attitude, your newspaper has, you know and seriously speaking now this man, whether you like it or not is going to be the president of the country. And actually we’re not so concerned about what The Times thinks…”

It seems that she had a chance to practice, while being interviewed late last week, on BBC presenter John Humphrys’ Today radio show, where her conduct could only be described as “terribly arrogant.” Judge for yourself by listening to a recording of the interview here.

I think by now South Africans have become immune to the arrogance of government officials and indeed ANC officials as well. The utter disrespect for the citizens of this country from these officials is all but gazetted into law as normal, legal and acceptable behaviour. However, when someone like Ms Duarte goes mouthing off to the foreign press, it shows the utter disdain, the ANC has for the international community as well. When one considers all the damage our Foreign Minister, and the former Minister of Health have already perpetrated, I suppose one more spokesperson cannot make it any worse than it is.

Religion, Politics and Culture or Religionists, Politicians and Culture. What’s the Connection?

A heady mix, especially religion and politics. Most people don’t recommend discussing either when in polite company; or in any company for that matter, especially when alcohol is available to lubricate the tongue. But where does culture fit in, if at all? Recently I came across a post on a social networking site which claims that religion and culture are one and the same. So, if culture is related to religion, is it also related to politics; and is politics for that matter related to religion. If you’ll bear with me, I’m going to attempt to uncover any connection, relation or association between religion, politics and culture, through a logical or mathematical approach.

Apart from the observation that nearly everyone has an opinion on religion and politics, and seem to want to assert that opinion, both are connected in other, rather ignominious ways. If you accept that regulation of  policy is derived through politics and that politicians formulate and administer, said policies, then it follows that politics revolves around politicians. What’s that got to do with religion? Well, Comedian, George Carlin commented that “When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion.” In truth, politics (and politicians), like religion, thrives on false promises and exaggerated, even absurd, claims. There’s your first connection, right there.

The second connection between religion and politics may not be that obvious, but it’s real, even if contentious. Religion owes it’s continued existence to it’s ability to enthrall poor, needy and desperate people. A politicians career also depends on his ability to mesmerize the poor, needy and desperate (with, yes you guessed it; false or exaggerated promises). Obviously, education also plays a role, but it goes without saying that generally, the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be scammed by religious and political scumbags (in other words, Evangelists and Right-wing Conservatives).

What’s the connection between religion and culture? Although some people assert that there is not much difference between the two, there actually is. The fallacious association is made when one examines how they both evolved and were adapted in different parts of the world. The reason one may find them indistinguishable from each other, is because religion and culture have merged to such an extent over time. However, when you look at the origins of religion and culture, the distinction is obvious. Religion is associated with base, primal instincts. It evolved out of a need to make sense of the world, in the absence of philosophy and science. Culture is associated with advancing civilization, and a more sophisticated, philosophical, even scientific way of life. It is safe to postulate that culture set in when religion stopped providing all the answers. The problem with religion is that it is a nasty, vicious animal, and won’t lay down and die. To ensure it’s survival, religion has crept so far up the ass of culture, they’ve become locked into an indistinguishable mess.

And what about culture and politics. Is there a connection? Well, all I can really say about this, is that the culture of politics is to perpetuate lies and deceit, and the lust for power at all costs. Enough said…