Unconventional Conventionists

A new political party has been born! Mazal tov! Now all we need is a name.

While I maintain a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude towards their policies, I welcome the new political entity and hope that it will diversify national politics without making the whole system unmanageable. Having a greater number of smaller parties prevents the abuse of power, which is great, but coalition governments are usually complicated and often fragile.

In any case, I believe that this new entity will eventually absorb the other opposition parties and gradually coalesce into a large political organisation that will finally provide a true counter-balance to the ANC. Then we will have a neat and tidy two-party system, just like the Republicans and the Democrats in America or Labour and Tory in the United Kingdom. Seesaw democracy, I call it, and it’s the only way to go.

More importantly, however, is the fact that this earth-shattering political development has taken place without any violence or bloodshed. As many commentators have said, recent events have really tested our democratic maturity and we’re done remarkably well. One can only hope this level-headedness will continue and that we get through the upcoming election with a similar sense of tolerance and decorum – Julius Malema notwithstanding.

On a more personal note, I believe that news is entertainment – the ultimate form of reality TV, so I am thrilled with the whole business. It’s like getting a new channel to watch. And the timing’s perfect because the long-running hit series, ‘Obama and Biden go to the White House’ is coming to an end.

So it’s just as well that a new series is starting, and the trailer looks quite good.

We’ve got three big-name stars, Terror, Sam and George, and a whole cast of supporting characters. In particular, I was struck by the charisma of Thozomile Botha. His pithy observation that ‘you must choose if you are Nando’s or KFC’ is about as trenchant a political observation as I’ve ever heard.

Botha then went on to demand a separation of the civil service from party politics; a position which is eminently sensible and under-represented. But then he lost points by insisting that all delegates must be good representatives of the new political ‘brand’ and should obey decisions made by the collective. He seems to have missed the fact that this new party has been formed by dissidents who did exactly the opposite.

Finally, in the spirit of constructive criticism, here are some other suggestions going forward:

  • Get a make-up artist to powder your faces with anti-shine. It’s perfectly natural to sweat under the hot lights but a sweaty-faced politician just looks shifty, like Richard Nixon.
  • Shilowa – stop pointing so much. You look like PW Botha.
  • Use shorter sentences. The curse of the endless statement must be broken! Keep your words simple and precise. And hire a speech writer – not Thabo Mbeki’s guy, he’s useless. Why not try poach some of Obama’s team? They’re going to be out of work soon.
  • Don’t make lost and found announcements from the podium, and don’t ask certain people to stay behind. It makes the whole thing sound like a school assembly.
  • If you are going to have a singing and toyitoyi contest, make sure it’s organised beforehand. The provincial sing-song was a bit of shambles.
  • Auntie Helen Zille – a word to the wise. Don’t wear a rosette on your floral dress. It makes you look like Margaret Thatcher. Oh, and stay in Shikota’s good books. There may be a cabinet post in it for you, somewhere down the line. After all, Kortbroek Van Schalkwyk did it with the ANC.
  • Jeremy Maggs – get your shirts ironed or wear a jacket. I know you’ve spent the whole day in an overcrowded venue, but that’s no excuse for looking scruffy.
  • We need a name quickly. Shikota sounds like a Japanese mushroom.

But that’s all nitpicking. I wish the new party everything of the best. May their motivation remain pure and their objectives remain honourable. May they always put the common good ahead of selfish interests and try to achieve at least half of what they have promised. Most importantly, let’s hope they don’t become another bunch of arrogant, self-absorbed power gluttons – the world has enough of those already. IMHO.

[Originally posted 04/11/2008]

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