Recently the ANC government’s romantic notion of itself as a liberation group, fighting for freedom for the people against an implacable, more powerful foe (an image that even 30-plus years ago was difficult to put across convincingly and consistently), plus its eagerness to distract voters from its many failures in plain sight, saw it waste two parliamentary sessions on impassioned speeches on the lethal Israel/Palestine conflict in the Middle East.  

It could have devoted one of those sessions to another area of conflict and shocking civilian deaths, right here on the African continent, like Darfur or South Sudan, Congo or Ethiopia. But it didn’t. 

Ignored as potential negotiator in the current destructive Gaza war ignited by the worst mass atrocity against Jews since the Holocaust, South Africa’s government chose to ramp up its Pro-Palestine stance by joining the Economic Freedom Fighters in calling for the Israeli Ambassador to be sent packing. 

It is not an action that will benefit the country if the President orders it. It could endanger a significant $241m trade that includes imports of steel plates, diamonds and pesticides. Pearl Couscous, which Woolworths quickly took from its shelves before the disruptive Red Retail Rebels could turn up at its stores to enforce a boycott of it, is literally a drop in the ocean of things we get from Israel.

But we should know by now the pampered, overfed men and women cabinet members with their stuffed wallets and imported, designer briefcases, as well as the majority of the nokhschlepers sitting in Parliament, don’t give much thought to the country and its people’s best future prospects.(Note: to editor: I fear it is too late to counter the apparent linguistic influence of a Yiddish adjacent Sea Point childhood). [Note: from editor: spelling, Clay! It’s nogschlepper, or more accurately, עודשלפר].

Their briefcases could be filled with constructive plans and proposals which the Institute of Race Relations, the Free Market Foundation, august Harvard minds as well as the ANC’s parliamentary colleagues from opposition benches have proposed.  However, it’s unlikely they’ll get round to considering them and it’s doubtful, when you look at the management and governance performance of the past 15 years, they’d even be able to implement them correctly or to any good effect.

We are hostage to this government now, but that should not prevent us from resisting the divisiveness caused by their ill-considered leaps into the arms of those they perceive to be their old gabbas from their ‘good old days’ of armed resistance, and their grasping for any passing possible diversion tactic.

(Note to editor: Slang term derived from Dutch which in turn derives from Yiddish. Can’t seem to stop myself.)[Note from Editor: 👍, or more accurately, גאבס].

Our focus should remain on our objectives – the preservation of our liberal democracy, the ability to nurture and protect our own 20 million children, our unity and prosperity as a country. (Remember the World Cup anyone?)

The latest Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Child Report says 4.8 million of those 20 million children are starving.  We already know that many of them, even if nourished enough to avoid stunting, will struggle to make anything of themselves because our education system has failed them.

More and more people are retrenched, an increasing proportion of the middle class are unable to hold on to their own homes after two years of payments, and a monthly shopping slip from Shoprite resembles a blowout foodie splurge at Johannesburg’s premier grocers or London’s Harrods.  We and any government we have need to be fixated right now on improving the lives of our own citizens. 

Instead of going out shopping for keffiyehs or designing new signs saying “non-blacks not wanted on board”, the ANC needs to tell us in detail not what is going wrong, whom to blame, or what others should be doing. It should tell us what it is doing about: 

  • Crime, gangsterism and anarchy
  • Shipping and transport in general
  • Finding the money to pay its debts
  • The failure of the power supply nationally that will bring us Stage 6 over Christmas.
  • And last (for now) but not least …the debilitating, apparently never- ending erosion, through huge-scale looting and eye-watering mismanagement, of state funds.

Some proposals to alleviate child hunger are on the table from the DA. One of their suggestions is that the child support grant be raised to the food poverty line. Another is the expansion of zero-rated foodstuffs to baby food and other items commonly bought by poor households. 

But so far there’s been no sign of movement from government to explore or take up this means of alleviating the suffering of these children: our own young citizens. 

Here are some of ‘snapshots’ from our life in South Africa while so many eyes were turned on Israel and Gaza and everyone and his Woke aunty were pinning one or other foreign flag to their X handles:  

A Free State political leader witnessed an “act of absolute desperation” recently: a vagrant, homeless and hungry man slicing off, and eating, pieces of a rotting roadkill dog between Brandfort and Bloemfontein.

In Durban a shop owner was shot dead over what is believed to be his failure to charge a customer’s cellphone as promised.

Westbury residents were once again caught in the crossfire between rival gangs. A mother died and her three-year-old son was injured and in hospital after men with guns came to their house. This followed the assassination of a local gang boss as he emerged from a gym in Roodepoort on November 21. 

(In the Western Cape, gang violence is the cause of most murders. In all, between July and September, 6, 945 people were murdered in South Africa. 881 of them were women and 293, children. There were R10, 516 rapes.)

In Jagersfontein, the mayor thought it perfectly fine to make a home visit in his slippers and shorts to harangue and threaten a local resident who had the temerity or gumption to criticise him in public.  

The most difficult liberal principle to exercise in this democracy, especially at a time of heightened emotions fanned by domestic and external events, and the strains and tensions people are experiencing, is freedom of speech. 

Threats to kill others or calls for the death of others should be regarded as criminal threats and contraventions of our Constitution. But, naturally, with Western Values intact (despite ongoing decolonisation campaigns by this flailing and failing government, currently clutching at the bogeyman of colonialism as the source of its evils), all else, while tough to listen to, has to be tolerated. 

Better you know speakers for what they are than remain ignorant until too late. Or so they say, and so I’ve believed in the past.

But a day or so spent watching and listening to the drivel that is spouted by many Members of Parliament, particularly from the ANC, the EFF, and several  virtual independents, in the form of questions in committee or statements in the house, (and preserved in Hansard where you could read it all should you be willing to endure this torture) will test the tolerance of a saint. It reveals the shocking level of ignorance and morally corrupt wilful lying in the House of Assembly (and the Council of Provinces) that would shame many fabulists-in-chief in the global propaganda wars.

Strategically, though, we must note and call out the abysmal ignorance and lack of evidence in some of the utterances and debates the masters of our particular universe offer up on a daily basis in Parliament. 

(Oh! for more local media people, especially on influential social media like TikTok, who are capable of calling out blatant untruths and pointing out factual voids without the fear of being unfashionable or unloved by the establishment.)

Recently I was driven to ask on social media why we paid for parliamentary researchers if our President and ministers know so little and have so few facts at their disposal? Of late it seems one or two of their researchers and speech writers may have worked out how to make use of Artificial Intelligence, so be afraid. Be very afraid of even worse speeches.

Be afraid too of the fact that there’s much more idiocy out there among the millions who will never vote, simply can’t find the perfect party to fit their exact demands, or like turkeys voting for Christmas (feeling the spirit of goodwill yet?), will repeat their mistaken choice of the incumbents of the past 30 years.

I have seen, in the global response to the Gaza war, that not everyone is capable of “rational political judgment and ordinary humanity”. Many are in fact capable of “disappearing reality” an apt description by journalism professor, Susi Linfield  in her recent Quillette essay The Return of the Progressive Atrocity ( on Hamas, Gaza and Israel.

I don’t have solutions for all the problems of this country. I support others to do that on my behalf and to offer them up for my approval or rejection via the ballot box. 

But I do believe, even if I now sound a little like an ‘AI’ Cyril Ramaphosa speech, we should all be playing a bigger part in the immediate task of finding and proposing solutions to the sorry state of our single state; this country in which we must all find a way to live together. That means we must stay informed through as many diverse channels as possible, and be active in finding out how things should work and could work best. 

Despite our government’s fondness for the narrative of oppression and the concept of “helpless, reactive victims”, we are not that. Except perhaps, those who have been reduced to scrabbling for bits of roadkill. 

We can still find our way out of the mess we are in, despite the shouting and bickering.

*(Yiddish for a bitter joke)

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.