1 November 2007

Polokwane Is Now

The name “Polokwane” has come stand for the ANC’s 52nd National Conference scheduled from 15 December 2007 in Polokwane, Limpopo Province; and we have been writing about it as if the events will only start on that day and as if everything will be over and finished with by Christmas Day, ten days later. Both these assumptions may be wrong.

In the sense that the re-arrangement of the political furniture is already taking place, “Polokwane” is already happening. In particular, this week, the country’s largest media house has been taken over for cash by the richest candidate in the presidential race, Tokyo
Berlusconi, sorry, Sexwale. See below.

The Business Day is one of the newspapers that has changed hands. Its Bottom Line column reports that the new owners will preserve “editorial independence” (see the second item below). This is enough to make a horse laugh. Please don’t tell us that Tokyo is not going to use these media assets for politics!

(Berlusconi was the Italian owner of TV stations, newspapers, magazines et cetera. Within three months of launching his bid for power, he became Prime Minister, and he held the position for a number of years.)

Relishing the remains of the Business Day’s always-fictional independence, The “Insider” column takes the deal apart and mocks the failed suitors, who are of course Sexwale-Berlusconi’s political rivals. “Masterminding all this effort would have been Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, which is why it failed,” gloats the Insider. See the third item below.

That’s comfort for Insider, but not much comfort for the rest of us. The trouble with Essop Pahad’s efforts is that although they fail for him, they could succeed for somebody else. Another piece of buffoonish “masterminding” of Pahad’s is the
Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). This “project” has been chowing taxpayers’ money for a few years now, under Pahad’s beady eye. It is supposed to help “atypical media”. (The Communist University is atypical media. Will the MDDA help us? Not likely!)

Pahad tried to roll out a wall-to-wall Big Brother thought-control system going from flyers and blogs all the way to mass-circulation newspapers, radio and television. He didn’t succeed, but the cheesy Tokyo just might. He could inherit all of Essop’s half-baked projects. The difference being that Tokyo, thanks to his invisible monopoly-capitalist backers, has the cash to make these schemes look real.

If “Polokwane” has long since been under way, then, likewise, “Polokwane” will not be over when delegates start trekking home for the “Festive”. The contest to portray reality, to oppress people’s consciousness or to liberate it, will continue. In COSATU’s phrase, we will be “back to the trenches”.

The Communist University has never left those trenches. We fly the banner of Paulo Freire and Liberty! (Wilkes and Liberty! was a slogan of the supporters of
John Wilkes of London, editor of the “North Briton”, who died 210 years come 26th December, pictured above in a William Hogarth drawing. Wilkes stood up for a lot of good causes, such as freedom of the press, and a few bad ones).

Steven Friedman is not exactly John Wilkes but he does a good job of taking ANC National Chairperson Mosiua “Terror” Lekota’s pretensions apart. Lekota got his position as a result of a revolt from the floor at the last ANC Conference. Now he is playing policeman against all that kind of thing. See below.

Charles Modise must endure another month in chookie. No plea bargain for him, and not even bail. Not until he comes up with something a bit more juicy for the Scorps. See the Nyasa Times item below.

Click on these links:

Mvela to buy Johncom stake, Thom McLachlan, Business Day (481 words)

Mvela CEO promises editorial independence, Business Day (336 words)

A narrow escape from the state, The Insider, Business Day (487 words)

Testing old modes of battle in the ANC, Steven Friedman, B Day (770 words)

Malawian facing fraud charges in RSA, Nyasa Times (239 words)

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