‘Egregious’ is such a delicious word. It’s the sort of word you want to roll around your mouth like a fine wine.
It means ‘outstandingly bad’ but that wasn’t always the case. In the irritating way that words have of shifting meaning, it originally meant ‘distinguished, eminent’ or ‘rising above the common herd’ back in the 14th and 15th century when it was more closely related to its Latin root. Quite how it came to mean exactly the opposite five hundred years later is a matter of etymological conjecture. The best explanation seems to be that the word was overused (rather like ‘racism’) and became more associated with irony. Suddenly everyone was being praised as egregious, which devalued the word. Thus, describing somebody as egregious post the 16th century would have been accompanied by a knowing nod and a wink from the speaker as a warning not to take this as a compliment.
I decided, after reading a piece by Prof Adam Habib on the Daily Maverick website, to rebrand the EFF with a more accurately descriptive title and came up with ‘Egregious Fascist Fat-Cats’ on my Twitter page. It met with a mixed reception, but the 125 re-tweets suggested it must have resonated with plenty of people and it attracted 132 replies, which I thought wasn’t bad for the Christmas season. Many of the replies were pretty robust and suggested plenty of other things the letters EFF could stand for; most of them unflattering.
Some of the replies came from furious EFF supporters who pointed out that, as the descendant of a land thief and a serial rapist, I was in no position to lecture the EFF on morality. Apparently the whole VBS story is a pack of lies and all those Zondo witnesses and investigative journalists are part of an imperialist plot and have been making the whole thing up to discredit JuJu and Floyd. Similarly, other stories about large amounts of money moving in unusual directions, rigged tenders and reports of high living amongst the red-onesie gang are all attempts by white monopoly capital to discredit the very people who could lead the poor and wretched to the promised land.
The personal attacks on Prof Habib were vile and he responded thus:
‘It is worth noting that the increasingly crude racism in our public discourse has coincided with or paralleled the rise of Zuma in the ANC and the EFF in South Africa. Indeed, the last time South Africa experienced this kind of crude racism in its public discourse was in the heyday of apartheid when the AWB was still a significant feature of our political system. This kind of thinking is also of course vintage Verwoerdian; the architect of apartheid who must be celebrating in his grave at how well his ideas have penetrated post-apartheid political life. And as a body politic, we have remained silent about it. Had such public remarks been made by white citizens there would have been a public outcry and swift action taken by government agencies and Chapter 9 institutions. Yet because these are African activists associated with prominent figures in the ruling party, or dissidents that have come from it, there has been an official reluctance to respond firmly to the outrageous racism.’
The real problem with the Egregious Fascist Fat-Cat party though is not their obvious dishonesty and their naked greed and materialism. Neither is it their penchant for physically assaulting people who disagree with them or threatening to rape female journalists. It’s the fact that they are a party completely bereft of any ideas on how to make South Africa a better country for all. Their stock in trade is to convince their followers that all South Africa’s ills are due to colonialism and Western-style capitalism and once that is swept away a new socialist Utopia will be ushered in. Everything will be free, from education to housing to healthcare to food and drink. There will be full employment and the only difference is that the state will own all the land and parcel it out on leases to those it deems deserving. This might suggest that if you don’t support the EFF you won’t get any land but that would be a typical example of WMC propaganda. Just don’t ask difficult questions.
At the EFF’s recent elective conference (paid for how, I wonder?) there were very few indications of how any future EFF-led government would fund all this largesse. However, I’m sure things will become clearer in 2020 when the EFF have decided to target the banking sector as part of its corporate bullying campaign. It’s going to occupy banks apparently and force them to lend money to EFF supporters, irrespective of their creditworthiness. With all the other problems South Africa has, I’m not sure a disrupted banking sector is something we need to add to our list of woes.
Another brilliant idea that came from the Clown-in Chief is the creation of another USA. In this case, the United States of Africa, with all borders torn down and President for Life and Admiral of the Fleet JuJu no doubt running the whole show.
Borders are apparently a colonial construct and the EFF view is that Africans should be free to wander where they want around their own land mass without some cheeky honky making the rules. Given the odd outbreak (OK, the frequent outbreaks) of xenophobia in South Africa, I can see that we’re all going to get along just fine when we are an Africa without borders. Something else the EFF ‘command’ may have overlooked in this Utopian dream of theirs is food availability and, more importantly, the containment of diseases. At the moment it’s not terribly easy to contract the Ebola virus in SA, but under JuJu that would be very different.
I have frequently told people that you may die of many things in South Africa but boredom certainly won’t be one of them. Let’s hope 2020 isn’t too rough on us and may the words of the Archbishop of Cape Town reach the right ears. May 2020 be ‘the year of the orange jumpsuit’ for those whose greed has driven the country to the brink of disaster.
The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the IRR.
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