The people have spoken – or, to be more accurate, 12 million of the 40 million or so South Africans eligible to vote have spoken.

The rest – including, probably, most of the unemployed and the youth – never registered, or opted to sit on the sidelines, go away for a long weekend or demonstrate their loss of faith in politicians and the ruling party by not doing anything to change their lives.

The low turnout in the 2021 Local Government Elections is bad news, because we know this large-scale reluctance to engage at the polls or register a peaceful mark of dissatisfaction is going to flare up as violence or civil unrest sometime in the future.

As we found out in those few weeks in July, our national and local African National Congress governments are rabbits in the headlights when such things come about. (Strange that the ANC’s friendship with Castro and Putin, among others, hasn’t resulted in its being more skilled in intelligence-gathering and repression).

But the elections did also produce the long-anticipated and, in some quarters, hoped-for drop in ANC support to below 50 per cent in almost every metro ward in the country.

My long-time chaver Jeremy Gordin, who is also a leading light of The Fishcake Gordin-Kropotkin Parkview Decembrists, believes the ANC received only a small ‘snotklap’. 

Famous grouser Andrew Donaldson has – correctly in my book – declared from across the water (perhaps you get a better perspective without the lights continually going out and your fuel price reaching an all-time high) that ‘we are seeing the beginning of the end of ANC hegemony’. 

That is reason enough for hedonistic foodie, pleasure-seeking me to celebrate with the fatted calf and go in search of the Antonij Rupert Optima 2015, which amazingly survived our household’s desperation during the liquor ban and lockdown of 2020.

Admittedly my heart sinks a little in anticipation of the chaos and instability to come. The coalition tangos are already under way in rural and metro municipalities across the country. Torrid, or in diplomat speak, ‘robust’ times are ahead as the parties choose their partners in hung municipalities.

Difficult and dangerous

We may all have watched the Danish series, Borgen, on Netflix, and think we have an idea of just how tricky coalitions are. But that series is set in polite and law-abiding Denmark. Here, where political assassinations of would-be local government candidates in the run-up to an election spark hardly a tweet of outrage or much media attention, and bribes and payoffs are commonplace, coalitions are likely to be both difficult and dangerous.

John Endres and Frans Cronje of the IRR say all this diversifying of opposition is going to be good for us in the long run. I’d feel a little more encouraged if I believed more of the new one-man-and-his-data entrants into local politics had principles, and not simply the desire for a job that pays quite well. Around R36 000 in a metro, if you’re interested.

Nevertheless, with the increasing likelihood of liberation from the stultifying hegemony of the ANC in my lifetime, or at least in the lifetime of my offspring, I can turn my attention now to other big struggles that lie ahead.

We keyboard activists can never rest. With the mark of the voter still visible on my thumb, I must set my sights on resisting other destructive ideologically-driven giants before all debate is crushed.

For instance, just how do we stave off the engulfing wave of Wokeism?

The COP26 climate action negotiations began in Glasgow as South Africa’s feckless voters and non-voters were doing their thing (or not), on 1 November with a magnificent display of hypocrisy.

Rich folk flying in on so many private jets to attend a week-long, unnecessary face-to-face event did not sit well with those of us who have had our ears bashed by strident climate catastrophists for setting foot in smelly economy class on our annual hols.

An article by Sean Thomas in the Spectator posits the possibility that if wokeness is really the new Christianity we could be in for two thousand years of madness.

Gloom prophet

That madness is particularly evident when it comes to the environment, climate and our little ‘dot of blue’. As evidence, I refer you to Brendan O’Neil in Spiked who writes about the hysterical claims being made in the shadow of COP26. The failure of COP26 would be ‘a death sentence’, said UN doom and gloom prophet Antonio Guterres. Cameron Ford, the spokesperson for Insulate Britain (the lunatics who glue their faces to Britain’s freeways) warned climate change would see us running out of food, and bring on society’s collapse. ‘You’ll see slaughter. You’ll see rape. You‘ll see murder.’

Clearly, he hasn’t been to South Africa recently.’

Of course, as Rod Liddle has noted in a recent Sunday Times column, some among us may not be too concerned about what may face future generations. Particularly as a good swathe of them are likely to be unproductive whingers, like the moon-faced, eternal child, Greta Thunberg.

(Will somebody please take this anxiety-ridden Swede out into the African bush on an anti-poaching patrol in Africa? Or into a humid, malarial hut to try to convince starving Madagascan peasants to opt for conservation and tourism rather than slashing and burning down their remaining forests? Or perhaps accompany her to a protest outside a fossil-fuel burning, sustainable bamboo-towel producing factory in China?) 

I’m totally in sync with Michael Shellenberger when it comes to climate change. Writing in Unherd, he heretically declares:

‘No global problem has ever been more exaggerated than climate change. As it has gone from being an obscure scientific question to a theme in popular culture, we’ve lost all sense of perspective.’

Like him, I have faith in nature’s capacity to adapt, as well as in the ability of people to find solutions to, innovate, modify and mitigate natural disasters that may come our way as a result of climate changes or random acts of God.

Avocados

Vociferous environmental campaigners are extending the list of things we should not be doing or consuming on a daily basis. Now it includes breeding the next generation, and – possibly even more alarming for those who are past that stage of their lives – the consumption of avocados.

Two UK newspaper reports (the Guardian and the Irish Times) this week carried stories about a favourite superfood of vegans and millennials – and those of us lucky enough to grow up in warm climes – the avocado. I deduce a focused campaign by the eco-warriors. Julie Burchill is correct – they do detest humanity.

Avocados are terrible water guzzlers, according to the Sustainable Food Trust. It says each avocado takes 320 litres of water to grow. The Trust also informs me an avocado has an enormous carbon footprint of 846.36 grams.

They are being called out as an ‘unsustainable’ food. Cancellation looms.

That will mean hardship for Mexican and South African workers in the avo industry, but this doesn’t seem to factor highly with those so consumed by Climate Derangement Syndrome they cannot debate the pros and cons of their proposals. Mexico produced 2.39 million tonnes in 2020; South Africa, according to Wandile Sihlobo, produces around 90 000 tonnes a year.

Luckily, China isn’t particularly worried about such things as sustainability, and its middle class is quite keen on getting hold of more avocados when they drop from menus in the West.

But back to COP26, where Germany, France, the UK and US partnered to announce they were giving South Africa’s government R131 billion over the next three to five years to achieve its climate action goals with a ‘just transition’ (Biden also used the words ‘equitable and inclusive’) from a heavy reliance on coal to cleaner and renewable energy sources.

It is certainly a more useful takeaway from the negotiations than a trolley load of Glenfiddich that you’ve had to purchase yourself (or maybe with your S&T allowance) which is, reportedly, what Sierra Leone’s head of state got up to while in Glasgow for COP26.

On and off

It also explains President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent bizarre utterings about electric vehicles and smart cities, even while what power we had was going on and off.

I’m going to add this money pledge to our list of things to keep an eye on as our local government coalitions morph, wax and wane and the ANC attempts to get back the love and trust of a real majority of South Africans.

Fascinating and turbulent times lie ahead, ladies and gentlemen. Stay, and take your seats.

[Image: incorporating Jake Hills on Unsplash]

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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Paddi Clay spent 40 years in journalism, as a reporter and consultant, manager, editor and trainer in radio, print and online. She was a correspondent for foreign networks during the 80s and 90s and, more recently, a judge on the Alan Paton Book Awards. She has an MA in Digital Journalism Leadership and received the Vodacom National Columnist award in 2007. Now retired she feels she has earned the right to indulge in her hobbies of politics, history, the arts, popular culture and good food. She values curiosity, humour, and freedom of speech, opinion and choice.