Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frog Soup

I must admit I find it disturbing that a man who dodged going to trial to face 180 charges of corruption to become president of SA - and because of the violent behavior, rioting and threats of his supporters, and who opposes gay rights - has been chosen as "best President in Africa", despite only being in the post for 6 months and impressing everyone with his charms, despite having no formal education and having not actually achieved anything since election day.

Well, I suppose that isn't quite the whole truth - he did achieve something - shortly before the general election, he managed to get an invitation to address the religious right wing in the Rhema cult's auditorium, much to the chagrin of other political parties who tried to beat the door down after it was slammed in their faces. Hmm, brownie points scored. Once there, he proceeded to schmooze the conservative fundamentalists with allusions to changing the constitution to make the right wing happy, and invitations to cooperate with the ANC government - which resulted in the formation of the NILC, which is currently adding flesh to the fundamentalist threat to GLBTI equality in South Africa.

Coming back to this "contest", I suppose the rest of the field must have provided slim pickings for the judges, considering the plenitude of banana republics and dictatorships in the rest of Africa. I wonder how Ghadaffi handled the news? He is probably jealous, being that he is the driving power behind the threatening new United States of Africa and arguably the best-dressed dictator in the Pan African Parliament, in his selection of - um, dresses.

In all seriousness, this award indicates to me the sorry state of Africa. It even shames me to say I am South African.

The news didn't mention if any monetary gratuity came with this award - but I think the big "payoff" was when they described him as a quote "moral compass" unquote - at which point I nearly lost it. Seriously, I nearly choked on my toast.

Just this week we have been watching our national power supplier Eskom foundering in a mire of in-fighting and government interference - with incompetent leadership and gross mismanagement being rewarded with a governmental refusal to accept the CEO's resignation, and utterly fantastic accusations by that loose canon Julius Malema that racism is playing a role in the issue.

Somebody ought to explain to the ANCYL the subtle differences between political power and electricity. For one thing, while both are shocking, theirs doesn't go off every other day for no good reason.

While the rest of the world laughs at us, and even ex-pats - um, pat themselves on their backs for turning them on SA, the other day JZ endorsed the outspoken ANC Youth League leader as a "future leader". Right, so a man who doesn't know a word in his own home language for "intersex people", and who perpetually opens his mouth to change feet in the media, is being groomed for future leadership. I suppose, considering the blatant waste of tax money by providing this national lampoon with VIP protection, this could be true. Ironically, many of the people who said that should JZ become president they would leave SA. Funnily enough, most of them are still here in SA and saying the same thing about Julius. I'm not sure what that means about SA or South Africans, but I do know that either way, I don't like it.

It reminds me of that old example given when demonstrating a point, by referring to slowly heating a pot of water with frogs in it. The water warms slowly and the frogs don't notice much and eventually boil to death. The reference of course is made by pointing out that frogs dropped into already boiling water would immediately jump out. Quite a fitting example, don't you think? I mean, how bad does SA have to get before the frogs - I mean, people - either don't want to come here - or start abandoning SA? Okay, they have been doing that for decades now, while the rest of us slowly boil to death without really noticing. I suppose I have to point out that there is an alternative to leaving and an alternative to slowly turning into frog soup. Putting out the fire.

I think the ANCYL is far too big for its boots - where does a youth league leader get off openly attacking other political parties and interfering in politics? That certainly isn't in the job description. I know a former youth leader for the old NP personally and he was cut loose back in the early nineties for making public statements in support of human rights, and also just on the first go. But then we know how the old NP was - control freaks, and anti-human rights. These guys are doing it so often and for so long that it shows they are doing so with the full consent of the ANC. In fact, it seems Julius chooses bigger and bigger targets as he goes, as if daring somebody to stop him.

In fact, all this frenetic activity on the part of the ANC youth league forces me to conclude that other political parties either do not need such features, or that they cost far too much in legal fees for opposition parties to afford. No, really. Does COPE have one? And the DA? If they do, I think the COPE and DA youth should be far more active and far more visible. For one thing, if they exist, they are so quiet I could be forgiven for wondering if there is DA youth league and what it looks like. And I am sure I'm not the only one. But then, the DA generally plays by the rules, which means a youth league would be limited to things which affect the South African youth, and not taking center-stage in the international press and creating the impression that it is an independent body with complete autonomy in the United States of Julius Malema.

The political landscape in SA is always changing and those who don't change with it... well, let's just say the opposition needs to do more than just keep up, it needs to start setting the pace.

For about two weeks now, a public debate has been raging around the tabling of a Genocide Bill in Uganda - you can read the details here and here. As you can see in the transcript of this bill, it would leave no place safe for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex people in Uganda - not even for Ugandans who flee the country as it includes an extradition clause for "offenders". Currently in Uganda, homosexuality is a "crime" already punishable by life imprisonment, but this bill goes a step further to prescribe the death penalty simply for being gay (or any other letter in the GLBTIQ collective, described in the bill as "homosexual") as well. As can be seen by the indicators visible in Uganda, the country is on the verge of government-sponsored "ethnic cleansing" or mass-murder - either way these are less direct terms for what we all know as genocide.

This brings me to my point: So far, the UN has remained silent on the matter. The USA has been approached to condemn Uganda for this unacceptable behavior, but so far has not responded. I read with absolute incredulity that Australia declined to condemn the bill (Australian Senate Refuses to Oppose Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill). Well, so much for their "morality". Only France has so far publicly and clearly condemned Uganda for even considering this obscenity and affront to human rights. The UK made a half-hearted statement expressing "concern" over the bill, but without any directness. Are they all perhaps waiting on the sidelines for the obstinate bigots in Uganda's government to pass the bill into law before expressing "concern" about the threat to human rights in Africa? Or is it just because it is only gay lives at risk that it isn't worthy of their protest?

Not only this, but South Africa, the supposed triumph of democracy and bright shining light of human rights in Africa, has not only not responded to calls to condemn this barbarism, but blatantly ignored all calls to do so.

The sickening irony for me in all this is that for almost two years I have been warning of the dangers of an impending pink genocide, to little effect. But then, who am I and what do I know? All over the world there are worrying signs of an increase in violence and murder which is based in homophobia and transphobia. In Jamaica, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, this has been going on for some time now, with barely an acknowledgement in straight mainstream media. Why? Are our deaths not newsworthy enough?

While certain groups in SA have in the past alluded to Ugandan events and doubtful "progress" in fighting AIDS, such as the ACDP - I find it remarkable of fundamentalist "Christian" groups, that when genocide threatens a portion of the community (which they happen to hate anyway) they remain stony silent on the topic of gay human rights in Uganda. Perhaps the principle of "silence gives consent" applies, but honestly you should ask them about that. I know they would claim they don't hate gay people - they simply persecute them, and as anyone would know, persecuting somebody doesn't mean you hate actually them - although the outcome is just the same for somebody on the receiving end. I can't see the difference and I doubt anyone else would, though I am surprised they can.

Add to that the complete mainstream media blackout on the Uganda issue. This means that most people are kept in the dark about it. Why? The only place you will find any news on it, is on the gay news forums and pink community news services. I find this striking and very, very concerning.

I see an historic opportunity here for South Africans to take a stand for human rights, to condemn this horror and to put the SA government on the spot to answer WHY it refuses to address this issue and to take on Uganda (and other countries) for their shocking human rights abuses. I wonder what this "moral compass" is doing right now? Spinning around on its axis? Pointing any way but true?

I plan on asking them this question, and I invite you to do the same. And while you are at it, ask the SA government WHY they REFUSED to sign the UN Declaration to Decriminalize Homosexuality in December 2008, citing "having principles". I think the public would like to know very much what that was supposed to mean.

I have an idea, but I would like to hear it from them.

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