By Trevor Watkins
Even in death, Madiba provided a last great service to South Africa. His bungled Gauteng memorial illustrated to a huge and influential audience the depth of incompetence to which the South African government under ANC rule has sunk. The serious consequences of cadre deployment, lack of accountability, race-based rather than merit-based hiring practices, insufficient due diligence, all these were on display. Fortunately, in a peculiarly South African way, the results were hilarious rather than disastrous.
The irony of the signing debacle is just so glorious. For once, only the deaf knew what was really going on. Millions watching, all senses intact, had no clue of the drama unfolding. The ponderous platitudes of the politicians were reduced to meaningless gibberish. The much vaunted security arrangements were a mockery. The most media-exposed man on the day, with more camera-time than all the presidents put together, was a nut job with violent tendencies. And balls of steel.
Despite owning a weather service, no one in government thought to check the weather forecast before planning. Despite an entire cabinet portfolio for people with disabilities, no one could find an adequate sign language interpreter. Despite owning a security agency, a grossly overfunded VIP protection unit, a military intelligence unit, a police force, nobody found time to check the security clearance of the man who would stand within metres of dozens of heads of state. All this despite having had weeks if not months to prepare and plan for this inevitable event. Thank the stars that Madiba can only die once.
I think we have witnessed a new moment in history, a turning point, an epiphany. Like Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time”, Macmillan’s “Winds of change”, George Bush’s “Mission accomplished”, our recent “Don’t touch me on my studio”,our beloved signer has encapsulated in a few silent words the ethos, the zeitgeist of our times, “Fog donkey. Cigarette. Balls”