A SMAC in the Face # 69:  Election 2024 – Can You Kill a Cockroach?

My name is Bond, Nkandla Bond (courtesy of VBS, unpaid of course), aka JZ, aka Spear of the Nation, aka Father of the Nation (23 children and counting), aka uBaba, aka Number One, aka Number One accused, aka Dead Man Walking (according to his medical parole submission).

The genital warts have returned, the rash is back

JZ has arisen from the foetid heap of ANC history to haunt SA again by joining the shiny new MK Party.

For SMAC’s look at the 2024 elections, the new MK Party and SA’s oldest politician, now that Gatsha Buthelezi has shuffled off into his sunset, read on

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A SMAC in the Face #66: The Elephant in the Room

By every metric, South Africa is bleeding.  It’s as if we’ve been infected by a haemorrhagic virus like Ebola which causes every organisation in the country to bleed.  Actually, it’s a well-known virus that’s been around for 30 years – the ANC. 

Barring SARS, SARB and the Department of Finance, every department and most municipalities are dysfunctional and supplying fewer or more shoddy services every year.  Institutional memory and competence were replaced with anyone from a disadvantaged group as long as they vaguely matched the job requirements. Nor did they look too hard at the applicants’ experience, track records or qualifications.  This combined with preferential procurement created fertile ground for the virus to flourish until incompetence and corruption now dominates every facet of the public sector economy.

This SMAC will not look into the Health Department which is eyeing the private Medical Aid reserve funds or that Water and Sanitation needs up to R1 trn to sort it out or anything similar. The remit is too large.  This SMAC will restrict itself to the sorry sordid sagas of the SOEs and their toxic debt piles that are bankrupting them and hobbling the economy.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: A  Burning Need for a Fire Brigade

Self-absorbed and engaged with their entrepreneurial spirit with a rampant desire to progress, the residents of Port Elizabeth in the first half century of the 1800s ignored the reality that they resided in a semi-dystopian world. Due to the lack of a local authority, the town lacked any form of central body to control its development. To do so would imply the imposition of rules and regulations. But conversely, it would enforce standards. Irrational behaviour conforms with the concept known as  – The Tragedy of the Commons. Examples abound. Crooked streets, different plot sizes hindering throughfares, vacant land becoming dump sites, dumping sewerage on the beaches and many more. The town was a veritable patchwork of order and disorder, utopia and dystopia.

It was only by awakening the awareness of the town’s residents via his newspaper, The EP Herald, that John Paterson sensitized the citizenry to the need for a local authority. Once they had established a Town Council, only then came the hard part, the implementation. Amongst the myriad of issues was the need to create a Fire Brigade. Budget constraints would shackle many initiatives on the path to create a professional Fire Department

Follow the town as it claws its way from makeshift equipment and volunteer firemen to a professional force in 1917. In a second blog on the Fire Brigade, I will deal with the later years post 1917

 Main picture: St Mary’s Church after its destruction by a fire on 9 March 1895

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A SMAC in the Face #62: Il Trump and the New ‘T’ Party

I thought the (Mis)Advent(ure) Calendar was to be the last SMAC for the year but, while popping antacid tablets like smarties after overindulging on Christmas eve with family and contemplating a huge Christmas lunch with friends, I was inspired by an aspect of Trump.  Perhaps my distended stomach triggered an uncomfortable association with the detestable man.

Trump is a runaway shoo-in for the Republican nomination and he’s getting itchy bone spurs at the thought of sticking it to all his enemies when he returns to the White House.  At his rallies, he has been testing out the various borderline dictatorial actions he will take and has found that his band of cult followers lap it up. With the exception of Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, all the Republican Grandees have obsequiously acceded to his de facto leadership and the Republicans have essentially become the party of Trump or a T party.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Unexpected Consequences of the Bubonic Plague of 1901

The meeting of the Khoikhoi – locally known as the Hottentots – and the white settlers in 1820 occurred on the day of their arrival as they were used to carry the settlers on their shoulders from their surfboats to the shore. How communication was possible is unknown but for good measure the Dutch farmers who were contracted to transport the settlers to Albany spoke neither Khoi nor English. Given the fact that the settlers arrived at the destination confirms that communication did occur, all be it, by means of gestures.

Of greater importance was the concept of housing. Simply put where did the Khoi stay? Being a nomadic people, the Khoikhoi would not have settled in one place but relocated as soon as the resources such as reeds or other resources were depleted in an area.

What has the discussion about housing have to do with a plague?

It will be made abundantly clear in a moment.

Main picture: The top of Hyman’s Kloof with Strangers’ Location in the background

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A SMAC in the Face #57: God Wants Semtex

The Israeli/Palestinian issue has seen five conventional wars since 1948 between the Israelis and various coalitions of Arabs in support of the Palestinians.  This area also became a proxy war for the West supporting Israel and Russia supporting the Arabs.  The Russian bear went into hibernation in 1989, but reawakened with the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the invasion of Ukraine last year.  Although it is a shadow of its former self, it has aligned itself with the next superpower, China, and a bunch of crazy as bat shit nuclear regimes like Iran and North Korea.  Meanwhile, China is increasingly flexing its muscle in the South China Sea and ramping up its rhetoric and intimidatory manoeuvres against Taiwan.

Has the outrage by Iran-backed Hamas been carefully scripted by Iran to take advantage of the realignment of world order to force a massive international confrontation.  Will history record this as the spark that led to WWIII, like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that snowballed into WWI?

Given China’s leading role in this possible outcome, perhaps it will be called WWXI.

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A (Gob)SMAC in the Face #55:  Stade de France – High Crime Zone

The last three matches of the Rugby World Cup were faster than the Fast and the Furious, more brutal than the Gladiator and had more drama than your average soapie.  But ultimately they were muggings on steroids.  The three teams – France, England and New Zealand must have asked themselves how did the amaBokke manage it – single point wins, three weeks in a row.  SMAC doesn’t know either.  In fact, he’s gobSMACed.  It wasn’t pretty, but there it is and it will be thus till eternity.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: A Brief History of the Main Public Library

What the saga to establish a library in Port Elizabeth indicates is the civic mindedness of its citizens. This is a case in point in which the denizens of the town understood that to improve society, education in general and libraries specifically had a significant role to play in this process. Unlike today’s public libraries which offer a free service in those days it was a “subscription” service.

Main picture: Library

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A Quick SMAC #1: Inspector Clouseau

When Russia invaded Ukraine with massed forces, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) rightly condemned it.   Within 24 hours they obsequiously changed their position to plead for negotiation even though Russia was in complete contravention of the UN Charter regarding the vivisection of sovereign member countries.  Their attempts at justification ran the gamut from the moral equivalence of the US con job – the Iraq War – to ‘we have shown the world the way of negotiation to solve problems’.  It maintained that it was non-aligned but was actually aligning itself to China and Russia to help create a bipolar world.  Along the way it allowed a Russian ship to dock in Simonstown with its transponder turned off and surreptitiously load unknown cargo in the dead of night.  It followed this up by taking part in naval wargames with their newfound buddies, Russia and China.  A bit of navel gazing would have been more appropriate.  SA has also been all at sea with how to deal with Putin if he arrives for the planned BRICS conference later this year.  All the while, SA repeatedly abstained from numerous votes in the UN condemning Russian aggression

Suddenly, on 2 May, SA abstained as per normal in the UN – ho, hum – but their ‘non-aligned’ buddies; China, India and Brazil, threw them to the wolves by voting to condemn Russian aggression.

Oops.  SA has found itself naked and clueless.

Quo vadis SA?