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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Rubrieke | Columns > Christina Engela: Fundamentally Speaking

We are Big Brother

Christina Engela - 2011-12-01

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? This a Latin proverb meaning "Who will guard the guardians?" or "Who will watch the watchdogs?"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in a democracy that is the job for the people, the citizenry, the electorate, the body politic. That's usWe do. Or don't – depending on what little laws or obstacles those elected to power roll into the way to obstruct our view of what they are up to, post-fact. Or of course, unless they are lucky enough to have an electorate too apathetic to give a rat’s ass what they do in our name, be that for us or to us.

The Secrecy Bill is a big obstacle rolled into our path – their biggest yet. It eclipses other measures designed to cripple the human and civil rights of the ordinary citizen – such as RICA and FICA, which strip us of the right to own and operate mobile communications and conduct financial transactions without these activities being reported to the state. Thus we can no longer SMS, talk or post anything online without the state being able to trace who said it, and we cannot transfer funds or operate bank accounts without the state knowing who did it, and with whom. This new law will now prevent us from knowing what the state is up to, and from reading any exposés of corrupt or dishonourable dealings by the state. Thus, personal communications and information – both in and out – are now controlled by the state.

I sometimes forget what an authoritarian state we live in today, but things like the Secrecy Bill serve to remind me that we still live in a racist state, where the only thing that has really changed is the guard – and the black-white polarity has switched. Jobs are still being reserved for people of specific race groups, wealth has been redistributed along racial lines, and the poor still are getting poorer, and the rich are becoming and remaining obscenely so.

The ANC government and its diseased organs continue to waste billions of rands in taxpayers’ money on parties and other wanton amusements, while poor people struggle to find food or shelter from the cold and rain. Viewed through the eyes of starving street kids – more often their own people – this is nothing short of obscene. Oh, did I mention the president is getting a new jet to fly him around the world in?

The police "service" today is corrupt and apathetic towards victims of crime – especially hate crime – and more resembles the apartheid era paramilitary machine than the restructured body that emerged in the 1990s and died a quick death. Accusations regularly emerge in the press of wrongful arrest, missing evidence and hate crimes against minority groups, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, human rights violations – often allegedly committed by police personnel themselves.

As it is, ordinary citizens already have to jump through flaming hoops and over blazing barrels like Donkey-Kong to get a firearms license – while criminals far out-gun the cops, having access to caches of stolen weapons and military hardware, without any regard for these laws. Crime syndicates blow up ATMs with explosives stolen from mine stores, knock over cash-in-transit vehicles; children and women are held captive in isolated areas by organised drug and sex-rings. Foreign nationals saunter across our porous "borders" and under the guise of "refugee status" set up forced prostitution rings using narcotics as a hook to reel in their slave-workers – and all this goes on openly, year after year – while our merry government does sweet bugger all about it.

There is no point in allowing foreign nationals into the country – even as refugees – if they cannot be helped to find legitimate jobs to sustain themselves. If they turn to crime and cause untold harm to others, they forfeit their claim to refugee status, so deport them – and for goodness sake, if they are deported, keep them out!

Something that has really pissed me off over the past few weeks is the exorcism killing of a 9-year-old girl by church members in Humansdorp, not an hour's drive from here. This supposedly transpired with the permission of the girl’s parents. Apparently those who participated were not even mandated to do so by the crazy fundi church involved – but the man who ran the show is supposed to be a self-appointed "pastor" with a bent on demon possession, and without any involvement of the church. Yeah right. Convenient. As it is, we all know anybody can just call themselves "Pastor so-and-so" and people are expected to show them respect, obedience and courtesies for it. At least here in South Africa it seems to be some kind of convention. Great place to start a scam, that, innit? We Souf Efrikins and our ingrained shame of "Haai, what would the dominee say?" Imagine the possibilities.

The poor child probably had a treatable behaviour disorder, something which parents (who actually have brains in their heads) should refer to a child shrink. Instead they tortured her to death in the name of their Lord. This sounds like something from the Dark Ages, where millions were murdered in the name of blind, fanatical religion – and people today conveniently forget that these people all died in the name of the same god they worship today. And to add insult to injury, these monsters were granted bail last week – for killing an innocent child – with the proviso, "as long as they don't do anymore exorcisms". WTF?!

This, folks, is conclusive proof that to some people "prayer" means physical violence – and crime committed in the name of Christ is not taken seriously. Christianity? No thanks, they can keep it.

But I have digressed a considerable leap.

So here we are, back at the Secrecy Bill, looking at a possible example of why the ANC pushed so hard for the Secrecy Bill to go through. Bad publicity costs votes, doesn't it? After all, if the government and those figureheads who sit at fancy tables on shiny chairs in shiny suits are made to look bad – or to account for their sins against the People – then the People are less likely to vote for the same people again, aren’t they? With virtually a new government or ruling party scandal hitting the headlines on a weekly basis – and with the leading opposition party making significantly bigger strides in each election - the answer to this pressing problem is to silence the press and starve the information machine which works against them. Did they plan this out in detail? You bet they did. Do you think they factored the foreign reaction and impact on the economy? Of course.

Zimbabwe hasn't had a free press in decades. Did the rest of the world do anything about it? No. So what do we expect to happen to South Africa's government for killing press freedom? More of the same. It has been said before, many times, that South Africa will go the way of Zim-Bob-we – and they are proving it. After all, if the Western countries decided to act against South Africa for this there's always China – the Eastern power that has demonstrated its economic might and total disregard for human rights. And we have so much in common with China these days, don't we?

Today's article in the Mail & Guardian is another case in point. The SA Communist Party, one of the three bodies in the tripartite alliance with the ANC – and therefore one third of its power base – has taken up where Julius Malema left off: “‘We reject the attempts to entrust the security of the national democratic revolution with the commercial and capitalist private media and elevate editorial supremacy above that of the people represented by their elected representatives,’ said acting provincial secretary Jacob Mamabolo.” And get this: “Mamabolo said the party believed that once the Bill became law, it would ‘consolidate and defend’ the national democratic revolution.” Yes folks, because commies are staunch supporters of democracy, and always have been (*tongue-in-cheek*). This dude obviously doesn't know WTF he's flapping his lips about.

Also over the weekend, in another article about the Secrecy Bill: "The Protection of State Information Bill will not be amended to provide for a public interest defence when it passes through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), sources familiar with internal African National Congress debate on the Bill said this week."

Robert Mugabe would be proud of the way the ANC government is handling this appalling affair.

And then, despite all this news flying around in the media (while it still can) and in public conversation, you still find the idiot who says, "I have never voted, and never will – I simply am not interested in politics" and who will then expect his friends to applaud him for it. Now some of my friends number among this group, and I'm sorry, but dude, if the shoe fits, wear it. Refusing to vote at all is the coward's way out – pretending to be above the consequences of the political process, when really nobody is immune to what results from it. Refusing to participate simply hands power to those who do participate, and disempowers those who don't – and puts their fate at their mercy. In short, if you don't vote or participate, that equals giving control over your lives to those who do. It means you don't even put up a fight to defend your rights. People who don't vote at all give away control of their own lives to others who do, regardless of the outcome. Sure, the vote may not always go their way, but at least they try.

People who use the excuse that they feel that they are not represented by the options, are bluffing themselves. The fact is, whatever options there are will affect them either positively or negatively, so they should take a stand and pick one.

It boils down to this: your indecision and incapacity to act like a competent adult and exercise your right to vote impacts negatively on my rights as a citizen. Your failure is resulting in the continued erosion and loss of my civil and human rights. Your cowardice and apathy are objectionable and offensive to me. If you really mean it every time you gripe and moan about "the system", then how about getting off your apathetic ass and voting in a smart, significant way at the next election – to effect a regime change?

If Big Brother is watching us, and you do nothing, it is your fault. As far as I'm concerned, if you continue to sit there, apathetic, avoiding responsibility, you have no right to complain. 

Last but not least, of the recent alterations to the ANC's page on Wikipedia: "Party spokesperson Keith Khoza said: ‘It's conduct that is not consistent with a civilised society. How does that assist any cause or anybody to tamper with information?"

Wikipedia allows any internet user to edit or change their pages.

"‘Interfering with information undermines the very need of [information providers],’ Khoza said."

Hahahaha. Hello pot, this is the kettle calling!