Ok – for this week’s open-jawed in disbelief moment: I read an article in the Sunday Times site (the link follows later in this post) and initially thought this was an attempt at some sort of sarcastic humour. But when I read more, I realised that the author was dead serious, in a humourless sincere manner, as displayed by those with the best intentions and perhaps not aware of their own racial prejudice.

The said author is one Darryl Illbury (who apparently takes himself  and his ‘intelligence’ very seriously – look up his website), and his article is astounding in its audacity.

Written in the form of an open letter, the writer starts off patronisingly, praising a certain liberation movement turned political party and then shifts suddenly to a bout of self promotion and in no less than four self-indulgent paragraphs, variously describes himself as a ‘man of letters’, a ‘free thinker’ and a ‘voracious’ reader.

Having gained some respect from the reader (in his mind), Illbury follows with an astounding and seemingly unrelated request:  “[If you support the ANC] please don’t vote for your party of choice on 22nd April.” He then claims this is because he wishes for the ruling party to “run the country properly in line with international moral norms and philosophical integrity”

No complaints about that. But how does NOT voting for a party  (any party) achieve this ‘philosophical integrity’? He fails to clarify.

Illbury then proceeds to assert that the head of the ANC, Mr.  Zuma would be viewed as a ‘malleable, dispensable herd-boy’ (his words)  by world leaders such as Angela Merkel and Barack Obama.

What???

How so? Is this not perhaps Illbury’s own racism leading him to such twisted perceptions? Or his own inferiority complex!

The ‘dispensable’ part is particularly rich, seeing how some ham handed attempts at dispensing with said Mr. Zuma have failed abysmally!

My comment on this: A minuscule, but loudly vocal and therefore probably influential section of South Africa’s population appear to believe that when democracy does not work in their favour, they should try any means to make it otherwise, including court action, manipulation of political discourse and generally undemocratic conduct that border on the sleazy.

Here, for example, is a disingenuous attempt at portraying SA’s current leadership as lacking the sophistication to deal with the big, bad world  out there.  A strange assertion, indeed, coming from a self-professed ‘scholar and man of letters’ – who is no doubt aware of the country’s dark past when it was the world’s pariah. Isn’t its current leadership not emergent from an astute liberation movement that successfully campaigned for widespread international sanctions and generally thrashed the bad old regime politically? And now one of them is viewed as a ‘herd boy’ if we are to take Illbury seriously.

Illbury tells his readers not to vote as per their choice – providing his racially charged perceptions as reason… and thus illustrates why South Africa was shunned for so long by the rest of the world.  Some privileged South Africans such as he, have no clue as to what democracy entails. Yes, it is imperfect because you get a lot of the bad with the good, but it is all we have in today’s society, and it works when it is not manipulated.

At best, Illbury has a very shallow understanding of democracy. A true democrat would realise the futility of attempted manipulation such as this. Illbury and his ilk wish for a ‘managed democracy’ perhaps?

The audacity – or is it desperation? Furthermore, Illbury assumes his reader is a mindless creature, easily swayed and lacking judgement.  No points here for guessing if he has gained or lost any respect in the process (intelligent man that he is.)

See the infamous letter here and make your comment [The article appears to have been deleted from the Sunday Times website – but I see that it is archived on the author’s site].

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