My mother had a pressure cooker, the air fryer of its day. It was a boon to working women.

It rendered tough meat tender, stewed beans and saved cooking time and energy.  My mother was more grateful for the time saving than the lower energy consumption in those halcyon days of plentiful electricity. But it had one disadvantage – you couldn’t lift the lid to see what was going on inside. It was also temperamental and had to be handled carefully. ‘It would explode if children fiddled with it.’

I would watch it in trepidation from across the kitchen.

One day it did blow. It was an awesome sight.

I’m in my kitchen. It’s a rare moment of available power and I am watching a video of Glynnis Breytenbach tearing a strip off the sorry array of G4S prison managers and executives who have been called to the Justice Portfolio Committee to account for the astounding affair of the Thabo Bester escape.

 Which is why that distant explosive day, in my mother’s kitchen, comes to mind.

The former NPA prosecutor, now a DA MP, had an opportunity during the Portfolio Committee’s interrogation concerning the serial rapist and murderer’s astonishing escape and months of freedom, for a justified and excoriating take-down of prison ownership and management and the authorities who were complicit by action or inaction in the whole Bester affair.

Breytenbach clearly has had enough of the lack of accountability everywhere. She is scathing of their pitifully inadequate responses and investigation.

Never mind the rolling boil in my pasta pot on the gas stove, I watch another clip in which the DA shadow minister on Justice witheringly dismisses Police Minister Bheki Cele claims to a knowledge of policing.

Go, Glynnis, go.

Speak ‘truth to power’

I’m betting there are other people who watched these committee proceedings and were not only impressed by this politician’s prosecutorial skills but also envious of her right and ability to directly speak ‘truth to power’ and demand the facts. Perhaps even admiring of her intolerance for such stupidity, if that is what it was.

Our democratic system, however, requires that we ordinary common or garden citizens curb our desire for such a cathartic and satisfying session with abject subjects of our political ire, and hand these tasks to our representatives in Parliament by means of our votes.

So we sit, mostly in the dark, literally and figurative, stewing away, ready to blow if there’s a chance of letting off steam or of demonstrating our anger at all that is breaking or not happening, waiting impatiently to make our choice of representative in the elections due in under 12 months.

Maybe we should draw encouragement from the fact that that the political opposition kitchen is cooking. It’s apparently been fired up by parliament’s passing of the flawed Electoral Reform Act which allows independent candidates, if they overcome the many barriers set out in the legislation, to contest for a seat in parliament.

Rise Mzansi, describing itself as a modern, people-driven ‘Political Alternative’, is  Motherhood and Apple Pie, or at least the South African version: Justice, Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Integrity. I like the inclusion of Integrity but I will have to have some concrete evidence before I can rate what it is offering. Rise Mzansi intends to register as a political party to contest all nine provinces in the national elections, which is brave. It is a massive task to take a party from launch to a seat in parliament in less than a year. The mostly young leadership has spent some time preparing the political ground, consulting and researching. It also appears to contain fresh blood capable of creative and rational thinking. Who knows, it may even prove to be motivated by altruism, not the narcissism and ego which so afflicts the earlier newborn parties gathering for the national election lineup.

As of this writing, columnist Peter Bruce has not yet endorsed Rise Msanzi or its leader Songezo Zibi, who took over from Bruce as editor of Business Day nine years ago.

Bruce’s latest choice

Bruce’s latest choice for best new hope for a revived South Africa is Gayton Mckenzie of the Patriotic Alliance.

Zibi has been building a profile as a ‘public intellectual’ for some years since leaving Business Day. He is a graduate of Nelson Mandela University, has 20 years’ experience as a communication and corporate affairs professional,  was an executive director of the Open Society Foundation and has two books behind him, Raising the Bar and Manifesto.

Zibi and Rise Mzansi are probably hoping to avoid the infamous ‘curse of Bruce’, although not even a Bruce endorsement is bad if you have the wherewithal to live up to the hype. None have to date, and I’d have to do more researching and tracking of this party before I’d hazard an opinion on their chances and importance.

Shortly after the Mzansi launch, Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen, who was recently given a solid mandate by his party, announced changes to his shadow cabinet. It appears he has given some of the younger members more prominent roles. He also appointed Matt Cuthbertson as the new head of policy following the departure of Gwen Ngwenya for a top position with the Airbnb corporation.

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimaine, who rejected an opportunity to return to Parliament as a DA MP after he resigned as the party’s leader, seems set to make a return bid via his Build One South Africa movement.

BOSA, along with the Independent Candidates Association, is taking legal action against the Electoral Reform legislation awaiting the signature of the President.

Former KZN DA leader and taxi businesswoman Mbali Ntuli has meanwhile been launching her ambitious civic organization called the Ground Work Collective which, she says, is not political but will aim to encourage community food production, healthy nutrition, skills development, entrepreneurship, civic education and registration to vote. She denies she will be forming a political party in the future. But I imagine the collective could play a vital part in getting her the signatures she’d need should she happen to decide to register as an independent candidate.

Elusive young vote

Also in the wings, worrying about the design of his Xiluva Party logo, is Bongani Baloyi, with some experience as a successful DA mayor and some experience under Herman Mashaba. But he may be over-estimating how much of his Twitter support will convert to votes. He naturally is keen on ‘mobilising’ that moribund and elusive young vote.

Lest we forget, Duduzane Zuma, the playboy of the Radical Economic Transition Zulu firmament and chairperson of the Kwazulu-Natal Ward 11 branch of the African National Congress, is still talking about making a play for the Presidency. The old guard in politics, he says, must step aside and let the youth run the country.

(Personally I think the youth should do some time in the trenches of a job in the real world and then the back benches before they are let anywhere near national political leadership. But I doubt if Zuma junior is interested in my sage opinion.)

So there you have it. A whole bunch of new parties, faces, and promises to keep an eye on in the months leading up to national elections. But don’t lose sight of what’s happening right now down at that very important, chaotic, shifting plates, municipal level.

The African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters are continuing to team up on municipal moves that demonstrate that a national ANC-EFF Doomsday coalition is ever more likely.

A stronger, bigger opposition coalition is vital to a future in which this writer, a descendant of 1820 settlers, Thaba Nchu residents and Irish diamond prospectors, can potter around her Johannesburg kitchen, enjoying the news. It is also vital to any locally-based future you too may have in mind.

Feel the pressure.

[Image: Ana María Romero Velázquez from Pixabay]

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.