What interesting times we live in!
While we were all distracted by the Covid lockdown, hardly anyone noticed the complete absence of the protests that we live through every year.
Usually by now, we would’ve had several national protests, many of them resulting in violence of some sort.
I haven’t seen or heard much over the past six months.
But now it seems the placard brigade is back.
Last week’s Cosatu stay-away was ostensibly called to demand that President Cyril Ramaphosa do the very thing that he is already busy doing.
Which makes me wonder why they decided to take the action at a time when there’s blanket news coverage of one corruption arrest after another.
Was it a PR exercise in relevance, like when the EFF set their sights on Clicks, demanding an apology or face a shutdown, only to dismiss the apology and go ahead anyway?
The most bizarre of the protests is of course the group of queers occupying a Camps Bay mansion to draw attention to their plight.
I’m not sure I understand what exactly their plight is.
Is it the fact that they are the targets of violent prejudice in the townships (which deserves even greater attention); or are they outraged by the fact that homeless people are surrounded by dozens of foreign-owned mansions that stand empty year round (this is something that has long ticked me off as well)?
Just like corporate advertising, the thing about protests is that the message has to be crystal clear and singular, if you want support.
And does their protest mean that I get to protest my dangerous entry-level car, by renting a luxury German sedan, and then simply just not returning it?
And while I’m at it, I can also draw attention to the fact that Africa needs to design its own car.
White people didn’t just protest last week.
They did so violently; to show their anger over the brutal murder of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner.
The group torched a police van and damaged property as they tried to get their hands on the two arrested suspects appearing in court.
Horner’s murder was an awful event that should never have happened; and it reinforces the false argument that white farmers are being targeted.
Not to diminish the justifiable anger that the crowd of protesters felt, it was still strange to see the accompanying vandalism from a white crowd.
It does speak to the broad frustration that we as a country are feeling when it comes to crime; a frustration that could easily boil over into something far worse.
As the lockdown drags on and more people lose their jobs, anger and dissatisfaction can only get worse.
Which is why Ramaphosa’s cleaning house is so important right now.
Corruption is a lot less tolerable for someone barely making ends meet in a job that is under threat.
Add violent crime to the mix, and you have an explosive situation.
So while it’s great to see all the arrests for those who indulged in graft, the time for bolder, sustained action against criminals who threaten our daily sense of safety has come.
While hearing someone had stolen millions, is a difficult and intangible thing for us now, it is also far removed from our reality.
But as criminals become more brazen, it may just stir us all into protest action soon.