A Dozen Toms

The country has been busy these last days and weeks with the unedifying spectacle of Jacob Zuma’s slow prying loose from the carcase of the state he has so wounded and savaged – there will be a collective sigh of relief once he has gone, and not much sympathy, either, when he is finally hauled before the Commission of Enquiry into state capture, and hopefully, in due course, before the courts. Meanwhile the new man, Ramaphosa, has already begun to clean house, sweeping aside the old, corrupt Board at Eskom, wakening the long-dormant National Prosecuting Authority from its long slumber, putting the corrupt and venal, and the incompetent, on notice.

There is a hunger in this land for justice to be done, and the guilty to be exposed and punished. And before anyone rushes to say, but! we let off the criminals who enforced apartheid, let’s understand that we live in a democracy now, and we hold people to a different, and higher, standard. Nor are we in a perilous transition, from a cornered and dangerous regime – this is peacetime, folks, and what Zuma and his gang have perpetrated is not war but a mugging.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us, life goes on more or less as usual, while we wait for the other shoe to drop and Zuma to exit: life, love and family seem more important.

So here are a dozen Toms – images of my grandson, who is not only an entirely different kind of riot, but a wholly innocent heir to the future.

News Roundup

So here’s a roundup of today’s news (just following a trend here: all sentences these days seem to begin with ‘so’).

In South Africa, the bad news is good news. Attempts to frame the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and ‘capture’ the Treasury, have come unstuck. Large demonstrations against corruption and the abuse of power have brought out not only the unwashed masses but struggle stalwarts of the ANC and even captains of industry. Meanwhile, President Zuma has withdrawn his court attempt to stymie the release of a report on ‘state capture’ by the erstwhile Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, whose stature as an icon of South Africa’s democracy is now indisputable: the report itself has unleashed what must be the biggest political scandal in South Africa since the arms deal.

If much of what these developments reveal is bad – confirmation, if confirmation is needed, that there is something very rotten in the state of Denmark – it is also hugely positive: proof, if you will, that South Africa is not its neighbour Zimbabwe. State capture and corruption have done enormous damage to the democratic project, but the democratic project has come back roaring. Viva democracy, viva!

Meanwhile, in that global beacon of democracy, America, the nastiest, most vicious election in modern history slouches towards its no-doubt temporary resolution; with the spectre of that bigoted, know-nothing con-artist hovering over the nuclear button one can only hope that ordinary Americans will elect the only competent adult on the ballot. More, that they will have the grace to celebrate the fact that the best man standing is a woman. Today’s Globe and Mail pretty much sums up the views, I guess, of most Canadians, and the rest of the non-demagogic world, in this editorial.

In other news, it has been announced (by me) that the writer of this blog will be flying to Madrid, Spain, on Sunday, for rioja and tapas. There will also be some work done, preparing for an interview for a major project back in – you’ve got it – South Africa, followed by three days of freedom to explore the city and its multitudinous offerings. I believe the squid sandwiches in Madrid are fantastic.

Finally (to circle back, in a manner of speaking) a story about Zimbabwe. Not about Bob, that bankrupt despot, but Zimbabwe’s elephants. Specifically, the elephants we saw, in their hundreds, along the banks and in the waters of the great Zambezi. Namibia’s desert elephants, as you might expect, are very careful with water:  not so the elephants of the Zambezi, whose playful abandon and exuberance you might detect in these images.

A final word from the editor: blog service may be interrupted next week by squid sarmies and rioja. Expect an update in the week of 14 November, if you don’t hear from me sooner.

Oh, and don’t forget to look at my portfolio.