December 24, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 10:13 am

photo-copyI can’t believe 2014 is over. What a year! I’m sure you do something similar, at the end of every year, I like to take stock – list the things I’m grateful for, the things I want to change in the new year and show some gratitude to those who made the year gone by so good:

1. Cliffcentral.com
First off, I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part, been a supporter or made Cliffcentral.com such a tremendous little start-up. In 7 months, we have achieved more than I would have believed possible… And that is due to YOU. This year has been more stressful and more rewarding than any other I can remember and I think we’re on the verge of some incredibly exciting new developments in media and advertising, content and talent. To you, our listeners, our staff and our contributors – thank you, thank you, thank you – I can’t say it enough.

2. Thank goodness for the Holidays:
I’ve never been so happy to get a few days off – I suspect you might feel the same, but make the most of the break (if you have one) – the last 12 months were pretty insane.

3. e-Tolls are screwed, not us:
I’d like to thank SANRAL for being so stupid and imagining we’d comply with their extortion plans. Clearly your toll plans are crumbling and the whole project deserves nothing but doom. I can’t wait to see them dismantle those gantries.

4. Ebola didn’t get us:
I’m really very pleased Ebola couldn’t get through our borders – it’s surprising really, considering how many other things do – things like Radovan Krejcir, a million Zimbabweans and Khulubuse Zuma through OR Tambo. Come to think of it, I’m surprised Khulubuse gets through anything at all.

5. Oscar Pistorius behind bars:
We spent most of the year thinking, talking and speculating about Oscar Pistorious. And just like that, he’s been moved to the back shelf. Show you how short our attention span has become!

6. Nkandla won’t go away:
Yes, Gedleyhlekisa, we haven’t forgotten about your big thatched, sprawling estate. Every day you occupy those buildings is a day off your political life – and we can’t wait to turn it into a school for the rural poor of KZN. The firepool will come in handy for washing dirty politicians’ hands of corruption too – at least that’s a better use for it than what Riya Phiyega tried to bullshit us with.

7. Generations is back:
We should be glad that at least one TV show still gets ratings on SABC. Even though Ellen Tshabalala and Hlaudi Motsoeneng tried to completely destroy the public broadcaster, they only partially destroyed the nation’s number one soap. You know you’re useless when you can’t even be destructive effectively.

8. The elections weren’t all bad:
The ANC is in decline, the EFF is on the rise and the DA are growing too. Our multiparty democracy is growing up – a little bit. We have a long way to go, but we’re no totalitarian regime, despite some attempts to make us one.

9. The lights are on, for now.
Eskom seem hell-bent on making themselves the worst business and worst service-provider in history, and so far they’re getting that right. Nonsense about load-shedding and power plants that aren’t working has made us all so distrustful of our national energy supplier that we’re on the verge of lighting fires and giving up on growth and development. I won’t let you win, Eskom. I want to live here and I want things to work. In 2015 I will do whatever it takes to not have to rely on you at all, you assholes.

10. Shrien Dewani isn’t costing us money anymore.
Sure, we paid a fortune to get him out here. Sure, our prosectors let us down. Sure, Anni’s family feel there’s no justice – but at least we sent that snivelling, kinky, lickspittle little man back to England, and we don’t have to think about him anymore. We won’t have to deal with him pretending he’s sick, or depressed, or in danger. He’s gone, and a good riddance it is.

The saddest things about 2014 are that we still don’t know what happened to that Malaysian plane and all its passengers; and that we still haven’t found and rescued those Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. We’re still worried about Isis – and Pakistani school kids and lunatic religious nut-cases in Sydney coffee shops, but we also know that barbaric, medieval philosophies can’t last much longer.

The future is full of electric cars, positive political change and a generation that want to see things get better. I can’t wait for 2015. I always say that every year should be better than the last – and for me that is true. I hope it was for you – but in case it wasn’t – may the new year bring you an opportunity to start fresh.

The tweet

November 10, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 9:27 am

iverwoe001p1Senzo Meyiwa was laid to rest a week ago, but the hubbub around my question about his funeral refuses to die down. “Who paid for this massive funeral for #SenzoMeyiwa?”

The past few days have elicited an extraordinary response from many South Africans – some outraged, some hateful, some thoughtful and some supportive. The readings have vacillated between positive and negative but have opened up an opportunity for dialogue and understanding – which is how we take this discussion up a level.

Whether or not you like insensitive whites asking poorly-timed questions or if you compare me to Verwoerd or Hofmeyr you have to admit there are things we need to talk about – and if my being white or your being black is a factor that counts either of us out of the discussion, then we’re in a lot of trouble.

I’m disturbed but not surprised by outright racism and bigotry – there’s a lot of anger in this country, and we pretend to get along some of the time until something awful happens or someone decides to take offence to something in the news. We need to go deeper though – to start understanding each other, and the bad news is that it won’t be comfortable. Some black people think all whites are right-wing devils that put on a show and occasionally reveal their real, racist feelings – by being patronising or using language which seems imperious. This may be true for some white people, but there are a great many of us who actually really aren’t racists – who don’t use the K-word, who don’t criticise the government because they think black people can’t do the job, and who aren’t proud of their colonial past. White people need to appreciate that what may seem like a question of fact can make a black person read all sorts of indirect racism and cultural prejudice that cannot be dismissed. We need to talk about our feelings, but we can’t be emotional in our reactions. Once we start to understand the other person’s point of view, there’s a way to turn every cause for conflict into a chance for conciliation.

My mistake was to ask “Who’s paying for this massive funeral for #SenzoMeyiwa?” without considering the timing or how many millions of people might have misinterpreted it as something mean-spirited, but the question stands, and has still not been satisfactorily answered. I didn’t ask it to be provocative or because I was seeking attention; I tweet all the time – and I’m sure I’ve said many more offensive things than that. Many other people asked the same question, but maybe nobody saw their tweets. Whatever the responses, I’m pretty sure I didn’t deserve “One settler one bullet”, “Fuck you Gerath you racist pink pig”, “You and Steve Hofmeyr are the same black-hating peas in a pod” (sic). If you think those reactions are appropriate then I doubt we’d have a lot in common, but I will defend your right to say even horrible things.

Tasteless remarks about Kelly Khumalo and unkind memes about Senzo’s dad with arms outstretched have polluted the social media timelines of many of us over the past few days – but instead of asking tough questions, we look for scapegoats and distractions. Instead of being sad about Senzo, many people preferred to get angry and nasty – and to what avail?

Who paid for Senzo’s funeral? You did – and I did. R.I.P. Senzo.

On the wrath of Black Twitter and being called a racist:

November 3, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 12:17 am

I grew up mostly in post-apartheid South Africa. I learnt our history both inside the school system and because I love history more than almost anything else, outside of it too. I am someone who would never claim ignorance when it comes to the sensitivities of our all-too-evident racial divisions. What I will not do is try to defend my non-racial, liberal, democratic or libertarian ideas in the face of those who didn’t like me before they had evidence of supposedly culturally insensitive remarks or become one of those brow-beaten whites who allow themselves to be bullied into submission by outrage on social media. This essay is therefore not an attempt to excuse anything I don’t believe I need an excuse for.

Senzo Meyiwa died in tragic circumstances just over a week ago. The circumstances of that death were not at issue for me: Crime does not discriminate and we lost a talented star. At the time I posted this tweet:


When I turned on the TV on Saturday morning, I saw this extraordinary (because it was not ordinary – forgive me for being very literal here) funeral, replete with marching policemen, government ministers making speeches, flags, banners, food, dancing and singing and a stadium. I have no problem with any of this – in fact I would rather see heroic members of society buried in this fashion than politicians, but in living memory it is ONLY politicians who have been buried like this. In fact some of the great stalwarts of the struggle have had much smaller ceremonies at their funerals. This was the first time I can recall when a non-politician has been accorded a funeral so large and impressive. Again, I do not take issue with it, like I do with every other kind of disgusting misappropriation of state funds. I asked this question though, and opened a Pandora’s Box of pretty horrific demons:


It’s a good question, and one which we should all ask, especially because politicians love using the grandstand a funeral provides as a soap-box from which to manipulate emotional people. Anthony did it at Caesars funeral and it thrust him into the first triumvirate. So if the politicians paid for it, that means WE paid for it. I don’t mind if we paid for Senzo’s funeral, but I mind that I am the bad guy for asking the question. I mind it a lot. I was called every kind of vulgar thing by a horde of the least eloquent, most furious, marauding lunatics I didn’t know, and who couldn’t have all known Senzo either.

Their fury betrayed that there was more anger at his death than any of us could quantify – the same anger poor Kelly Khumalo had to deal with earlier in the week – but it also showed that when a mob need a scapegoat, any excuse will do. Sadly, for a time, I became more important to these angry people than Senzo.

I did not ask the question to be controversial, or because I was looking for attention – and I don’t care that my Twitter following went up. I am furious too – furious that a great footballer is dead, another innocent man killed for no good reason. Mobs can kill people too – and Terry Pratchett said in Jingo that “the intelligence of that creature known as a crowd is the square root of the number of people in it.” At times like these I am tempted to dismiss the idea of a ‘Rainbow Nation’ but I am reminded by our history and our greatest leaders that we have much more that binds us than that which divides us.

Old things

August 22, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 5:28 am

radioIn the 1980s and even the early 1990s, the music record business was a goldmine. Turnover was sky-high and despite excess at all levels, many (even small) labels made an absolute fortune. Every artist who was a major global success relied on the sale of records for the majority of their income and the publishing, marketing and merchandising opportunities that came with it made many people very, very wealthy. There are tales told of how a certain record company in New York ordered $4000 of fresh flowers delivered to their offices every week and that a fleet of black limousines were kept outside the doors just in case an executive, star or producer needed to go anywhere. It was sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. They thought the goose would never stop laying golden eggs.

Then came Napster. Peer-to-peer music file sharing on the internet pulled the rug out from under the record companies and almost overnight the intellectual property, technology, ownership of product and publishing of music became forever different. The whole business model started falling apart. Of course the industry reacted like they all do when they feel a deathly threat approach – they called in the lawyers. The lawyers shut down Napster, and like a hydra, out of every severed neck, three new heads sprung forth. With ever-diminishing profits and mounting legal fees, the recording business slowly (much too slowly) started realising their days were numbered. Piracy became the word they used for what people called sharing. They were cut out of the deal and fans went straight to each other or the source for what they wanted. Today, most people in the music business make the lion’s share of their income from performances and merchandising – and many either have their own small record companies, or work independently. Some even release content online for free.

The dinosaurs that presided over the collapse of the music business either retired with whatever fortune they had amassed before the collapse, or fought on and lost out. Men you couldn’t get an appointment with if you were Michael Jackson are now not much relied upon much for advice about anything anymore.

Radio is over 100 years old. Guglielmo Marconi is supposed to have patented radio in 1909, and got the Nobel Prize for it. The media at the time, and thus popular opinion, held this to be true. Actually he had stolen the idea from Nicola Tesla. In 1943 the US Supreme Court confirmed – after 34 years – that Tesla, and not Marconi was responsible for “conceiving of, and patent the principles of radio.” Marconi’s claim was struck down. Theft is not a great way for any medium to be born, I think you’ll agree. Since then, its chequered history has run the gamut of being both chief propaganda vehicle for fascist regimes and as a tool for freedom and information in the developing world. Radio engages, connects and entertains millions all over the world. Well, the content does.

Increasingly, technology invented in 1909 seems out of step with things that were invented only ten years ago and exponentially improve almost bi-annually. Mobile technology, the internet, integrated systems all get better faster and the the cost of producing quality content gets cheaper every day. A big media company used to be the only place that could afford to make great content and pay for the license they needed to broadcast. Now radio stations have lots of staff, expensive programming, onerous licence conditions, interfering regulation, gerontology of the talent, atrophying of the production processes and a host of parasitic satellite businesses that fight over commission: The above-the-line, below-the-line, digital, social-media, PR, strategic and marketing agencies they need to employ to get their hands on the advertising budgets of large companies. It’s perverse. The link between the audience and the product or service is so complicated that viral videos of cats spread with greater ease and less expense. Do you know that Clear Channel, the biggest broadcasting business in the US with over 850 radio stations has not made a profit since 2008?

According to publicly released figures, gross advertising revenue for South Africa’s broadcasting industry is estimated to have increased in value from just over R2-billion to close to R8.5-billion between 1994 and 2006. It is hard to know just how much is being made now – but between the major media owners, it’s a lot. Much of it is the result of years of brand-building, research, hard work in programming and selling opportunities to advertisers. All that money is made by connecting audiences with products or services. Audiences tune in to hear or see or read things they are interested in, and clients get to sponsor, advertise or outright interrupt that connection in order to get the consumer’s attention. Now that the internet is here, a renaissance is so overdue that the baby may well walk out of the womb, fully developed and speaking.

Where we’re going, I do not know, but I am absolutely sure that the old ways are not going to work forever. Like the music, movie and publishing business, broadcasting has to change. We know that quality content and talent – inspiring, intelligent, entertaining and empowering – will always attract an audience; and we know that audiences change their minds overnight. When the migration to new platforms and the gear-shift to new habits takes place, it will do so without warning and those who didn’t act fast enough or played it safe will be left with gigantic corporate carcasses and egg on their faces. Just because things have worked one way for a hundred years doesn’t mean they always will. If you don’t believe me ask London cabbies what they thought of Uber in 2009; or Kodak what they thought of digital cameras in the 90s. I’m backing Tesla, not Marconi.

Ten weeks in….

July 15, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 3:07 pm

CliffCentral - WeChat Stickers imageA lot of people know we’ve started something new. Not everyone has  figured out exactly what it is, where it is, or how it’s going. Here’s the low-down on this 10 week old baby – CliffCentral.com
It feels like a long time, but I did my last FM radio show only three months ago. After enjoying some fifteen years on radio – from Tuks to 702 to 5FM – and loved every minute of it, it was time for me to do something new …to have my own business…online radio or as we call it….“unradio”.

Many people have questioned the logic of giving up a large listenership on national radio for a medium which attracts relatively tiny audiences by comparison, with online radio being such a new concept in South Africa.  Having been an early adopter of both Facebook and Twitter and witnessing the change in the way people communicate, being part of creating the next generation of broadcasting, or rather “net casting”, was a natural evolution for me.

In the beginning it was just going to be my show, for three hours a day – and now we have a whole online talk radio station -12 hours of live programming every weekday.  It’s a combination of some of the most well-known personalities in South Africa as well as a launch pad for aspiring new talent.  In our first month we auditioned, live on air, over 1000 of the most interesting people I have ever heard on radio. The chance of any of them ever getting on the air on a traditional radio station were absolutely zero. Creating opportunities for talented young people is what is giving me the most personal satisfaction at this time.

As with all pioneering ventures, we are prepared to experiment to try things that haven’t been done before. One of those experiments was Comedy Central simulcasting an hour and a quarter of my show every morning.   The first month we started at 7.35 and then moved it to 6am the next month.  After a couple of weeks we agreed with Comedy Central to discontinue the simulcast.   It takes time for habits to change and focusing on our core business allows us to now concentrate on building, rather than fragmenting,  the CliffCentral platforms – website, WeChat and social media.

WeChat has proved to be an outstanding partnership.   In just ten weeks we have over 111 000 subscribers and seeing a daily increase in the messaging facility direct to the studio.   It has also allowed us to interact with our audience not only with the live streaming but also, broadcast messages, audio notes, chat rooms and direct messaging for advertisers.   We’re working closely with the WeChat team on an ongoing basis to explore new ways of maximizing interactive engagement with our community.

Everyone wants to know who’s listening. It’s hard to know what to measure – because we’re sailing into uncharted territory. We’ve consulted “experts’ in the technical field with regard the correct metrics.   We don’t want to compare ourselves with free-to-air FM radio, mostly because what we’re doing is so different.   The actual live “listening” forms a small part of a holistic approach which aims to integrate the multiple ways people are engaging on the various online platforms.

After ten weeks, CliffCentral.com is already a thriving community of engaged, interactive conversations that connect people across online radio, social media, WeChat, our website and face-to-face. We have 111 000 WeChat subscribers; 44 000 Facebook friends and 26 500 Twitter followers. The podcasts downloads are gaining momentum with 38 000 downloads of my show alone during June. With regard actual listening, it’s no longer “listeners” but  “unique IPs”, “streams”, “users”, “clicks” and “page views”.   While we’re figuring out these metrics, many people are still figuring out how to even listen (just like with all new things).

For those who are interested, here is a snapshot of a week, one month after launch from 1-7 June 2014:  20 681 unique IPs listening to our stream, via WeChat and Cliffcentral.com. On the website we had 15 966 users, 32 660 sessions and 78 792 pageviews logged. For the whole month of June we had 65003 unique IPs listening to our stream; and on Cliffcentral.com for the whole month we had 47 209 users, 11 6021 sessions and 282 242 pageviews logged. Only streams longer than 1 minute could be counted and the statistics were compiled using Sawmill and Google Analytics.   You see what I mean!   If you happen to be listening with friends or colleagues from one computer or phone – sorry you won’t be counted!

Our aim is to start small and build a solid foundation, accompanied by like-minded contributors, advertisiers and “un”listeners” who share our entrepreneurial spirit.  I’m more convinced than ever that this will be the medium of the tomorrow.  All ideas and suggestions are always welcome.


End of Month 2: An update.

June 24, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 1:13 pm
ccCliffcentral.com continues to evolve, growing and adding new and exciting things to the future of broadcast and online media.
July brings with it a few changes:
1. Our morning team has a new member in Ben Karpinski – award-winning sports blogger and enthusiast. Ben is fanatical about sport and has a wry sense of humour – and a very big head. I don’t mean he’s full of himself, I mean his head is much too big. He can’t find a hat to fit it.
2. We’ve finished our first two months with Comedy Central. Simulcasting an hour and a quarter of my radio show was a great experiment but I’m delighted to reclaim my studio from all the cameras, cables and lights that inevitably come with TV. The vast majority of my audience are thrilled they won’t have to look at me and can keep listening instead.
3. We’ve got some great new contributors, people who have never been on air before – like some of the 1000 auditions we had in month one. Many of them will feature in the CliffCentral Conversations show from 3-6pm with Arye Kellman, but some have landed their own shows. Auditions will continue to feature and give new talent a chance to shine.
4. We have a terrific line-up of well-known, talented broadcast legends in the stable: People like Trevor Gumbi, Tony Ndoro, Casper De Vries, Stan Katz, Penny Lebyane and Tumisho Masha will all delight and thrill you with their brains, laughs and personalities. There will be intelligent debates and discussions with the Daily Maverick, great legal advice with award-winning Garry Hertzberg, medical and motoring shows and plenty of sport. You can’t afford to miss anything – but if you do, there are podcasts.
5. You can win. In the next few weeks we want to reward you for coming with us and being part of the future. Keep listening and we’ll make you a winner.
Don’t forget to listen to CliffCentral.com or get the WeChat App on your smartphone, add CliffCentral as a contact and start listening wherever you are. Glad you’re on board 😉

Zwelinzima Vavi

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 4:01 am

image001Adriaan Groenewald is interested in leadership in a way that we all should be. While I was his guest on Cliffcentral.com today, he told me about the article he had just finished on Zwelinzima Vavi, who was his guest the week before. Read it, it may give you a glimpse of the man we missed out on in government. Also, tune in to Cliffcentral.com every Monday at 12h00 for The Leadership Platform, where Adriaan and his team keep getting the heavy hitters on to talk about things that really matter:

Zwelinzima Vavi, CliffCentral – 16 June 2014


CLIFFCENTRAL.COM – First Month Round-Up

June 2, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 8:46 am

ccCliffCentral.com – launched on 1st May 2014 – celebrates one month of “netcasting” with almost a million page views.  Having taken the leap from traditional terrestrial radio to the future of internet and mobile, Gareth Cliff and team plan to create the pre-eminent “infotainment” online content hub.   It’s about sharing in real conversations – everything that happens in our world – everything we all experience every day – makes us think…makes us laugh…makes us cry…..makes us angry….inspires us… what makes us human. CliffCentral.com broadcasts from 6am – 6pm and the programming is repeated so you can always catch up later.  Alternatively, podcasts are available to listen on demand.

CliffCentral.com starts the day every weekday morning with “The Gareth Cliff Show” and his trusted team – Mabale Moloi. Leigh-Ann Mol, Damon Kalvari and Siya Sangweni-Fynn – uncensored, real conversation about everything in the news, everything that happens in your life and everything we all experience every day, along with first-class guests, edgy material and a healthy dose of humour, intelligence and inspiration….and lots of phone calls!  “The Gareth Cliff Show is simulcast on Comedy Central (DSTV Channel 122), will be moving to the earlier timeslot from 06.00 – 07.15 on Wednesday 4th June.

Between 09.00 and 15.00 every weekday – hourly shows hosted by well-known personalities and experts covering a wide range of topics and issues news with the Daily Maverick journalists; “Candid Business” with Business Report Editor Ellis Myandu; Leadership with Adriaan Groenewald; “The CasperRadio Show” with Casper de Vries and his team; “TG Squared” with Trevor Gumbi and Gabi Mbele; “The Buzz” with Jen Su and Jason von Berg; “Blaque Issues” with Tumisho Masha and Monwabisi Thethe; “Rockstars and Rookies” with Hlubi Mboya and Jade Reinerstsen; “Womandla” with Phumi Mashigo; Sex Talk with Jonti Searle and Black Spider; Law with Garry Hertzberg; Health with Dr. Jonathan Witt; “Heavy Petting” with Leigh-Ann Mol and even “Keeping Up With The Kalvaris” with Damon and Bernice….just to name a few.

While having some of the most well-known broadcasters, personalities and experts in the CliffCentral.com stable, the aim was to also encompass ordinary people who may never have had an opportunity before to showcase their talents or even just share their areas of interest. To this end, some 1000 live auditions were held during May yielding amazing results.  Every afternoon between 15.00 and 18.00 “CliffCentral Conversations”, hosted by young up-and-coming broadcaster Arye Kellman will include guests (and successful auditionees) bringing  their particular flavour and engaging with the wider audience with live phonecalls, social media and WeChat messaging.

The range of conversations include sport, finance, legal, beauty, fashion, “The Stars” – astrology…as well as “The Stars” – celebrity gossip, technology, gaming, youth panels, education, entrepreneurship, health and fitness, love and relationships, social media, inspirational stories, television, movies, lifestyle related topics…everything that is relevant to our audience.   There will also be a slot for ongoing auditions so the door remains open to join in.       Some of the applicants who are potential talk show hosts will be developed by co-hosting some of the shows in preparation for weekend programming on CliffCentral.com

Listen live on www.CliffCentral.comwww.dstv.com; Wechat CliffCentral Account

In case you were in a coma…

May 19, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 5:23 am

If you haven’t yet figured out that we’re live and doing our show between 6 and 9am, don’t beat yourself up, lots of people don’t know stuff. Some o these people died because they didn’t know fire was hot, or they thought wireless internet was a phone trapped in a gauze maze. I’m here to help. so for the people who are slow to catch on, don’t be ashamed, just pretend you knew right from the start and catch up on the podcasts (number 4, below). here’s how to listen to the Gareth Cliff Show:

1. Go to CliffCentral.com on your web browser. The stream will start immediately. If you’re on uncapped wireless at home or work, you can listen freely

2. Go to WeChat on your phone, no matter where you are. On WeChat, go to ADD CONTACTS. Then go to OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS. Type in CliffCentral and add us. Now we’ll appear as a contact. On the message screen you’ll see LISTEN. Press that, and you’ll hear us. If you’re on Edge, 3G, 4G or LTE you’ll pay normal data costs. If you’re on a wireless connection, no extra cost. We’re working on ways to get those data costs down.

3. Watch COMEDY CENTRAL Channel 122 on DSTV between 7h35 and 9h00 every weekday morning. The show is broadcast live on TV.

4. Download the podcast of whatever show you want to hear by going to CliffCentral.com. Every show should be available an hour after it has gone out live. Go to PODCASTS. Downloading the show won’t take long and then you can listen whenever, wherever you are for free.

5. Listen live on DSTV.com and check out your favourite TV shows at the same time.

Remember if you have a smart phone you can connect it to most modern cars which will put the stream on your car radio. On very smart phones you can also use Bluetooth

Have fun, and tell us what you think. Remember you can call in on 0861-555-189 any time.

Freedom Day Thoughts

April 27, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 5:40 pm

BlbhrugCYAAbF8NHappy Freedom Day to my favourite country on Earth. But with some sombre thoughts…..This possum ate it’s way into a box of pastries, overdosed on sugar and got too fat to fit through the hole it used to get in. So it just waited to be found, jam-smeared for rescue. Thanks to Tom Eaton on Twitter for this. I suspect you know a few examples of people just like this, well-known people, who are so greedy they can’t help but help themselves.

The ANC (government)(include the latter term if you choose, because there is such a blurring of lines) is overwhelmed with corruption – and on the grandest scale. Just the other day I heard about a man who gets tenders from a government department and in return lets the minister in question have his way with the man’s wife, regularly. Many hundreds of thousands of rands change hands in this transaction, not to mention the dignity of the man’s wife. Part of the deal is that the cream the man takes off the top gets returned in sizeable portion to the minister in question. I’m not sure the story isn’t just gossip, but then I’m not sure it isn’t. Who knows how much more nefarious the deals get, especially lower down the pyramid of influence where the amounts are smaller and the recipients more desperate and depraved.

Part of the rotten, depressing problem we’re faced with is that most deployed cadres wouldn’t be employable in the lowliest of jobs. They know the gravy train is their only hope at wealth and the material rewards of success, and they’re determined to get what they can out of the deal before the tap is closed. This isn’t some casual observation tainted with racism (because I’m already assuming that will be the first counter-argument) – the Auditor-General agrees with me. We have dysfunctional, uneducated, dishonest, immoral people in government office, starting right at the top. Because they don’t know better, they can’t tell the difference between a few thousand and a few million, but they know they want some. Like that possum, they gorge themselves on public money and perks like a fat child eats cake until they can’t anymore – and they always get caught – because they’re too fat to fit back through the hole.

Gwede Mantashe can call those of us who criticise this disgraceful stealing whatever he likes, but we’re not in North Korea, and his propaganda hasn’t got the power it might have had in years gone by, when he trained as an apparatchik. In fact people are so furious that they openly boo the President, laugh at him more than with him and are deeply suspicious of every single thing the ANC does and says – including their (it deserves to be said) very positive, powerful election campaign. It’s time we pull all the pigs away from the trough and force them to earn their office, earn their reward and deserve our respect. If they won’t, we’ll ridicule, insult and cajole them into humiliation and resignation – even the thick-skinned ones who refuse to budge. There are good people in politics, even a skeptic like me can admit that, but they’re becoming few and far-between as they end up tarred with the same brush as their less salubrious associates.

I don’t want fat possums making important decisions and helping themselves. I demand public service – from people who want to serve our great country, not pillage from it. Is anyone listening? Turning 20 means we can’t behave like teenagers anymore.

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