The accusations levelled at the private healthcare industry recently are not unfounded when one considers that we spent 8.7% of GDP on healthcare in 2005 when the international standard is around 5% of GDP. If we break this number down further, public healthcare accounts for 42% of this expenditure, which seems a fair number if one does not consider the fact that the public sector serves 80% of the population and simple math proves that 20% of the population is therefore responsible for 58% of our healthcare spending. The only reason that such a disparity could exist would be that costs in the private healthcare sector are much higher than costs in the public sector. I do suspect however that the Minister and researchers discount a very important structural difference between the public and private sectors of our healthcare industry when doing their comparisons. 

The major difference I have found is that doctors working in the public sector work for a fixed salary regardless of the amount of patients they treat or the services they render, whereas the private sector doctors write up the full professional fee every time and it would be interesting to see what the comparison would look like if it were done on a full professional fee basis. As has become the rule with our Government, they are basing their argument on skewed facts, but this does not mean that private sector providers are not making themselves guilty of artificially inflating costs in a few ways. I promised you before that none will be spared. 

A new ethical question

A lot of us have been to a large private hospital recently, where we found the specialist doctors and hospital not only sharing the same piece of real estate, but it is my understanding that the doctors we find here are also shareholders at the hospital. While this shared scheme makes sense from a logistical standpoint, it does create somewhat of an ethical question. If a doctor can profit financially from admitting a patient to the hospital he holds shares in, is the decision to have the patient admitted still solely based on the circumstances surrounding the patients illness?

You may have noticed by now that I do hold the medical industry and medical professionals in the highest regard, but I also know for a fact that there are some unscrupulous sharks out there trying to make a few quick bucks and what easier way than to admit a patient to hospital when it is not really necessary or keeping a patient in hospital for longer than is medically required?  

Mothers, especially new ones, are the common target

It is a sad but undeniable truth of our country that women are perhaps the subgroup of our society most targeted by all sorts of unsavoury characters and it is equally sad that the private medical industry has been cashing in on mothers for years, if not decades. We are talking about the C-section. 

When it was first devised, the C-section was an alternative procedure to be performed when vaginal childbirth would put the health of either the mother or baby at risk and this was the norm for many years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that C-sections should ideally not comprise more than 15% of all childbirths in a country over a given time period, but for the 2010 calendar year the C-section rate in our private healthcare industry was around 70% (30% for public healthcare). The primary reason for this should be that the HPCSA declared that the delivery method must be the choice of the patient, but the truth is that doctors are actively promoting C-sections as the safest method of childbirth. If one considers the WHO research findings that C-sections are ten times more life threatening than vaginal births, one cannot help but declare that doctors are duping women into taking a more dangerous birthing option for the sake of convenience alone as they are scheduled ahead of time and less disruptive to the doctor’s private practice. 

Medical reasons aside, the simple fact of the matter is that C-sections are far more expensive than vaginal births since they require an operating room, operating staff and a three day hospital stay, when compared to the delivery room, doctor and next-day discharge with vaginal births. The average vaginal childbirth costs around R25000.00 in the private sector, but C-sections start at around R30000.00 and while one or two would not make a big difference, the fact of the matter is that it cost a certain medical aid an additional one million rand in 2009 alone.  

It is not surprising then that the Department of Health is currently working on regulations and perhaps even legislation to curb the excessive amount of C-sections currently being done by private healthcare providers. 

Doctors are losing their touch

While nobody can deny that technology has improved our lives in indescribable ways, this is not always a good thing and one has to question not only the medical necessity of the use of technology in the private healthcare industry, but also the costs involved.  

Many of the older doctors complain that the young ones are losing their clinical skills by relying too heavily on the use of imaging equipment like X-rays, sonars and CT or MRI scanners. Not too long ago, these machines were exclusively used to confirm a difficult clinical diagnosis, but today they are too often being used to make the primary diagnosis and this fact is nowhere better illustrated than in your medical aid benefits. When you closely examine your benefits, you’ll find that you need to obtain authorisation from your medical aid for specialised radiology services and more often than not, you also need a motivation from the treating physician. This requirement exists for a reason and that reason is that these services are not only expensive, but are often abused by doctors who are unable/unwilling to make a clinical diagnosis or seeking an added financial benefit. When compared to public healthcare, we again find a much lower instance of this technology being used and one cannot ascribe it to the poor state of the public sector alone. 

Fraudulent billing

As is the case with all other businesses, the private medical industry has been faced with rapidly rising cost pressures over the last few years and this has prompted a lot of services providers to not only charge patients for items they never used to charge for before (syringes and swabs for example), but also “dress” their income in some ways.  

The most common way to do this is to use a cheaper generic product, but then charge the patient or their medical aid for the full price of the “original” medication, thereby taking a bigger profit on the generic product than they would be able to under Single Exit Pricing legislation. The medical aids have tried to counter this practice by only paying the price of the generic medication, but the truth is that these doctors then either co-bill the patient or charge them an additional “administration fee” to make up the difference. 

 

I suspect that there might be more ways for private sector doctors to line their pockets and artificially inflate the cost of healthcare, but they fall outside my knowledge. What is clear though is that the private healthcare industry is currently filled with many loopholes that provide these opportunities for those that would take them and I am all for any attempt at closing them. What we also cannot discount though is the effect that patients currently have on our healthcare system, but more on that next time.

A lot has been said about the cost of healthcare in South Africa recently. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has called it “a monster that will swallow us whole” and has launched some very scathing attacks on the private healthcare sector. It is no secret that the cost of private healthcare has increased far above inflation over the past few years, so one cannot fault the Minister there, but what you should realize beforehand is that this is a problem so complex that it needs to be broken down in to all the various aspects or one would risk a post that is simply too long. What I will endeavour to do then is to break the problem down into three or even four parts, each of which dealing with a different aspect of this problem.

One of the biggest role players in this scenario is doubtlessly the Government through its administration of the public healthcare system and the power it has to set certain policies, but it has to be seen in a historical context as well, so I hope that you will bear with my rants on this one.

The non-competitive nature of private healthcare

Healthcare as an industry is, as one can imagine, founded on an ethical code that all practitioners must adhere to. No medical practitioner, private or otherwise, can refuse help to any patient in case of a medical emergency and are not allowed to discriminate against a patient in terms of race, gender or religious belief. This is something that even the Apartheid Government did not dare to question or tamper with, but an unknown aspect of this ethical code is that medical professionals may not compete with one another like other businesses. The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) expressly forbids any doctor or other medical practitioner from performing any action that could potentially influence a patient’s choice of practitioner. They are not allowed to embark on a competitive advertising campaign for example.

For this reason, the private medical industry used to be highly regulated, with certain structures in place to specifically prevent medical practitioners from overcharging patients. Until 2008, the HPCSA published an Ethical Price List (EPL) that placed a ceiling on the amount that a practitioner could charge for rendering a certain service and as of 2004 the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) published the National Health Reference Price list (NHRPL) that reflected the cost to the practitioner of rendering any given service. These lists were then used by both practitioners and medical aids to determine the yearly fees medical professionals would be paid for rendering their services. Typically, patients without medical aid would be charged at twice the NHRPL, while medical aids would pay three times the rate. It had the added benefit of allowing patients to know why they were being billed a certain amount and provided a market related escalation in the cost of private healthcare each year.

This non-competitive nature is also what sparked the Single Exit Pricing regulations that came into being in 2004. These regulations prevented pharmaceutical companies from giving healthcare providers discounts or bonuses on medications and determined a fixed levy the practitioner could charge the patient on medications received. The current levy chargeable on medication by a doctor is 9% to a maximum of R9.00 per item and the idea is that this will dissuade doctors from prescribing expensive medication when a cheaper generic product is available because it would actually decrease the percentage they make on the product. R9.00 on a product worth R100.00 is still 9%, but R9.00 on a product worth R150.00 is only 6.67% for example.

Changes in public healthcare

Before we made the transition into Democracy, most public hospitals were actually semi-public institutions with separate wards for private and public patients. The fact this segregation was actually racially based and merely given a less offensive name is not even in dispute in my mind, but it allowed private doctors to treat their private patients at their normal fee, while treating public patients at a monthly salary. The hospitals themselves received funds from Government for the public services and recovered the cost of private services like any private hospital would have. Hospitals were also free to set their own budgets and decide on spending as they saw fit, with any surpluses carried over to the next financial period.

The fact that the size and quality facilities provided pre-1994 followed the racial segregation of the time has previously been brought to my attention is duly noted and also beyond debate, but it would not explain the current rot we find ourselves in. These pre-existing facilities should, in my opinion, have served as the backbone and model for the expanded system post-1994, but Government took the decision to make some very far reaching changes to that system.

After 1994 control of local hospital budgets have been shifted to the Provincial Health Departments and most public hospitals have done away with their “private wings” to my knowledge as they were seen to discriminate on the basis of income. This means that a local public hospital can no longer purchase what it needs with its own funds, but that they have to request it from the Provincial Department, which in turn puts the request out on tender. In doing this, the Health Department created a structural inefficiency that forms the basis of the decline in the conditions at public healthcare facilities.

Shock to the system

The sharp decline in our overall healthcare system started with these mentioned changes. Suddenly there was simply no incentive for doctors to remain in their session appointments at public hospitals and coupled with the decline in the conditions they had to render their services in, most of them simply resigned or did not renew their contracts to the point where the current estimate is that 79% of all doctors in the country work exclusively in the private sector. The void created by their exodus from public healthcare facilities also created a huge demand for private facilities that was quickly filled by the large private hospital groups that currently face virtually no competition from the public sector and thus experience no real need to reduce their costs or prices charged.

The economics of the situation does not stop there, because the sudden rise in demand for nurses and support staff added to the exodus from the public sector and when one considers the higher salaries and on average better working conditions offered by private facilities, it is only logical that the high quality personnel would go there. This problem was compounded by the fact that Government also took the decision to close down most, if not all, of the country’s nursing colleges (perhaps due to the misconception of racial/financial segregation when compared to university graduates) and thereby rendering it unable to satisfy the new demand. The most troubling aspect here, however, is the fact that an estimated fifty thousand South African trained nurses currently find themselves abroad at any given moment in time.

The most significant event with regards to our debate though, occurred in 2010 when the North Gauteng High Court found that the NHRPL was in contravention of the Competition Act and subsequently scrapped, thus leading to the sudden total deregulation of an industry that was previously highly regulated. The BHF could no longer examine the market and determine a standard fee for services rendered as this would amount to collusion and incur them a hefty fine. Lost was the direction providers looked for when setting their fees and lost were the mechanisms to prevent overcharging in the system. It is notable, even if only for future reference, that this occurred during the watch of Minister Motsoaledi who now seems very concerned with pricing within the private healthcare system.

Coming up tomorrow: private healthcare’s contribution to the problem.

I’m not good at keeping my own secrets. That which I decide to be good and proper at any given moment in time, remains good and proper for the rest of eternity. It’s just the way I operate in life and you can imagine that I don’t do apologies either. I don’t keep stuff secret because I made the best decision I could in a specific moment and if you don’t like my decision, then please go on your merry way, shut up about it and deal with it in a manner that does not hold the potential to piss me off. The big secret then is that my fiancé and I are expecting our first child in about six weeks and you don’t have to be Captain Obvious to realize that this means that we are unmarried. If you did not realize that fact on your own, then you have my empathy, but be warned that the post to follow might not be for your eyes.

Now in the modern world, this is not much of a problem, because the world seems to have come to the realization (as I have come to the conclusion) that marriage does not guarantee a happy, loving, working relationship between parents or a happy childhood. Marriage, I would go as far as to say, is actually the number one cause of divorce, but why argue about that? It is in my opinion the product of a healthy relationship between two people and not the means by which to achieve it. The problem though is that the Afrikaans community we find ourselves in is still very much trapped in the outdated and backwards teachings of the Dutch Reformed Church. International readers can use the Christian Reformed Church in North America (U.S.A) as a frame of reference and, predictably, every senile old man and menopausal old woman wants to know when our son is going to be christened.  Strangely, I don’t have the heart to tell them that it is not going to happen within the next seventeen years at least, with never being the most probable.

It’s not about the fact that I have severe reservations about organized religion as a whole or a specific loathing for the Dutch Reformed Church I was brought up in, but about religious freedom.

I am, as you would have guessed by now, an agnostic. I acknowledge the possibility that a God might exist somewhere, but that he/she is inexplicable by definition and as a result any attempt at understanding or serving God is sinful by nature. I have the utmost respect for someone’s right to subscribe to any religion they want to and sometimes I envy their apparent ability to believe in and follow their chosen dogma without question. It must be nice to have one answer for all of life’s burning questions, but that’s a tad too simplistic for me. The question in my mind though is how free are we really when it comes to religion?

I ask this because in my day to day life and apart from myself, I know exactly two people who have actually made a choice regarding their religion while the rest keep on doing what their parents were doing, who in turn keep on doing what their parents were doing. As a child, my parents had me baptised, took me to church and made me attend Sunday school for seventeen years. During this time, I was force-fed a certain dogma and belief system that I was not allowed to question in any way. I was also taught to believe that Satan is deceitful and that he will use many other “heathen religions” or sects to lead me astray and to the gates of hell itself, so I was actually being indirectly dissuaded from informing myself about alternative religions and belief systems. It is, I imagine, the same for most religions.

I don’t exactly know when I decided to wave all this goodbye, but I do know that it was a process during which I became ever more aware of certain contradictions and manmade taboos within the religion which ultimately became too much for me to simply ignore any longer. I made the decision not knowing what I was in for, because at first people try to get you back into the fold by trying to give you roundabout and frankly bullshit answers to certain questions, but when they see that that will not work, they turn on you like a pack of hyenas and the intolerance starts in earnest. It is even more vengeful than the intolerance they show people of other religions, because when you are a Muslim, you are merely wrongly informed, but when you don’t support any religion, the only reference point these people have is that Satan must have gotten hold of you; the bastard.

I consider myself lucky though, I managed to escape a world that is built on the personal misgivings of a handful of people with a severe “apostle complex,” intolerance of others and psychological warfare. I don’t know if the whole “born and received into sin” bit is still part of the Reformed baptism ceremony, but they are basically using your child to convince you to do what it is that they want; either bring your child into the Reformed Church or have him burn in hell for all eternity. If this happened outside of a religious setup, you would most likely report that person to the police for blackmail.

Why would any presumably loving parent force their child into such a world? Why would I, a fervent supporter of all the freedoms we hold dear in the modern world deprive my own child of this particular one just because it is what my immediate society wants me to do?

The answer is that I simply will not. I will in stead endeavour to teach him certain things in my own way and ultimately leave the decision up to him when he gets old enough. No matter his choice, I will support it as best I can. Except Scientology, I don’t know if I can stomach people who wear their insanity on their sleeves like that.

 

PS: I you ignored my earlier warning and kept reading when you shouldn’t have, please take note of the fact that I did not attack your God or your faith. I spoke about your religion, so please do both of us a favour and research the difference between the two.

Predictably, the whole country is suddenly up in arms about the low price that BHP Billiton pays for electricity at their Hillside and Mozal smelters. They pay around 22 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, while the rest of us pay around R1.40 and it costs ESKOM 41 cents to generate a single kilowatt hour of electricity. On the surface of it, one can’t blame the tired-of-being-fucked-in-the-ass-at-every-turn consumer and society at large for decrying this setup, because it does seem that we’re being taken for a ride. This large multinational company is paying fifty per cent of the production price for nearly 10% of ESKOM’s entire production capacity after all, but if one digs down a little deeper, some other facts emerge.

Aluminium (and other metals) smelters run twenty four seven, because the cost of shutting everything down and then starting them up again in terms of electricity required, wastage of raw materials, et cetera is higher than keeping things constantly running. Generating plants also run twenty four seven for the same reason and it is common scientific knowledge that the alternating current electricity produced by these plants cannot be stored for later use. It would also not be illogical to assume that electricity usage peaks around 19:00 when people are awake and are cooking dinner, but then goes down sharply around 22:00 as most people go to bed for the night, which means that most of the electricity produced between this hour and when folks get up at 05:00 the next morning would go to waste. Were it not for the Billiton contracts, the ten per cent they use during these hours would also go to waste and would have to be funded from other sources. Is there any doubt as to who would have paid for the waste? At least in this way, we are making up for some of the losses incurred through most electricity users being lazy, going to bed and not using electricity generated. Besides, who has ever heard of giving your bulk customer some discount? One shudders at the thought.

Let us also not discount the time factor here. The contract for Hillside was concluded in 1996 under then CEO Alan Morgan. At that time ESKOM had tons of excess capacity, all its generating plants were meticulously maintained and they had a full expansion program covering the following twenty years on the table. Then President Mbeki arrived on the scene with plans to privatise company and as a result their requests for funds to execute the expansion plans were denied, maintenance was shoddy and only in 2007 did the President realize that it was a mistake. But it was too late, because we had a grid under enormous pressure, so little generating capacity that we had to endure load shedding and NERSA approved some very large hikes (24.8% for 2010, 25.8% for 2011 and 25.9% for 2012) in electricity prices in order to fund the rapid large-scale expansion the energy supplier needed to prevent further load shedding and economic damage. Also, nobody could predict back then the sudden and massive impact the Chinese economy would have on global commodity prices. In 1999 fuel was priced around R2.00 per litre when compared to the R13.00 it would cost you today. The spot price of coal in the U.S. jumped from around $30 in 1996 to $62.90 in 2006 for example, but the spot price of Aluminium (to which the increase in price was tied) did not follow this trend, due to an ever increasing supply.

Let us also not forget the economic role that BHP Billiton plays in our country. The very reason they constructed the smelters in South Africa was the fact that we pay some of the cheapest electricity rates in the world and that the smelters would simply not have been sustainable anywhere else in the world, but a few facts on the Hillside (and Bayside) smelter in Richards Bay. The smelter currently employs around 1650 people directly and there is no telling how many contractors and secondary jobs are created as a result of the 710000 tonnes of aluminium produced annually. It is also one of the very few industries in the country that imports raw materials and exports a finished or intermediary product. As basic economics would tell you, that is the way you want to go with these things.

Ultimately, the existence of the BHP Billiton-ESKOM contract makes good economic sense if one considers the circumstances under which it was first created and BHP Billiton cannot be held responsible in any way for the current situation. The current situation where perhaps the largest electricity user in the country pays less than 15% for electricity than the ordinary citizen does is squarely to blame on ESKOM’s constant fuck ups. If this is not an indication that the moratorium on private electricity generation should be lifted, I do not know what is, but we all know what the chances of that ever happening are.

About the same as ESKOM’s excess generating capacity.

I’ll be the first to admit that any political opinion I might hold is not well informed at all. That which I say is mostly made up of the things I read in the newspapers mixed with a good wallop of logic and my own point of view. After reading Brad Cibane’s take that the entire white/blackness debate is only a facade to cover up our own racist agendas, I’ve decided to throw in my two cents for what it is worth. I believe that the existence of this debate, annoying as it is, is primarily down to the issue of identity.

Now identity, common a word as we think it is, is actually very hard to define. A Wikipedia search delivered well over fifty results ranging from the document we all get on our sixteenth birthday to advanced mathematics I have no hope of understanding, but the definition that I will subscribe to for this piece is Indentity Formation or Individuation defined as “the development of the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity (known as personal continuity) in a particular stage of life in which individual characteristics are possessed and by which a person is recognised or known (such as the establishment of a reputation). This process defines individuals to others and themselves. Pieces of the person’s actual identity include a sense of continuity, a sense of uniqueness from others, and a sense of affiliation.

While this appears to be nothing more than social twaddle and psychological babble, the fact is that ethnic identity forms a very important part of early individuation, which is that we identify with people of a certain ethnicity on the basis of a common genealogy or ancestry, just like we identify more easily with people of the same gender at a certain age; we men all know that girls do not in fact have cooties, but try telling a seven year old that. That is unless cooties is the new buzzword for boobs, but I digress.

If we now consider racial history, not only in South Africa, but all over the world, the fact is that all other ethnic groups were groomed to believe that they are inferior to whites.  Hendrik Verwored himself said that “the natives will be taught from childhood to realise that equality with Europeans is not for them. There is no place for the bantu child above certain forms of labour.” In the simplest form this means that the black identity in South Africa and other countries are “incomplete” in that their ethnicity is almost considered a burden and one has to wonder to what extent these words are still present in the minds of the older generations of South Africa, even when we now know that there is absolutely no truth to Verwoerd’s words. It is important, however, that we keep in mind that the shift from apartheid to democracy has impacted the white people as well.

My generation of whites took notice of certain things before Nelson Mandela walked free. We were not necessarily expressly taught that we are superior to black people, but we took notice of the fact that the rich people were invariably white, that white people had nice clothes, cars and other possessions, we heard the way our parents talked to the domestic workers and we heard them address the white people as “baas” (sir) or “miesies” (madam). All of this implicitly created the perception in our minds that we are in some way superior to black people. Then 1994 rolled around, we started discovering the horrible reality that the National Party and our parents were so good at hiding from us and we were suddenly insecure in that aspect of our identity. Today we have a debate that seems to attack us at the most vulnerable point of our identity and the natural reaction to this sort of thing is to go on the offensive. The exact vulnerability of our ethnic identity is nowhere more obvious than in the creation of Orania that is still marketed as the Afrikaner utopia of self-determination where they can practice their culture, heritage and language in isolation from other influences.

This vulnerability in our identities is what I consider to be the basis for the current debate and nobody can be at fault for trying to redefine that which makes us vulnerable. What is important for us to realize though is the fact that some of the perceptions from which we make our arguments is outdated. I’ll attempt to explain using Brad’s example of a Soweto family that had monopoly on meat via their butchery in Soweto during the apartheid years, but now that we are in a democratic society, there are many butcheries opening up around them and they actually miss what they had during the apartheid years. How would we define them and how would we define the black middle class that speak out against certain things like Government corruption or those who “jump the fence” to the DA for example?

The most likely name these people will invariably be called is coconut and counter-revolutionary, but to what extent can we couple this opinion to outdated perception that financial success, moving to the suburbs and not supporting the ANC forms part of whiteness? When a white person speaks out against Government corruption he is often accused of racism, but that might be subscribing to the outdated perception that whiteness invariably considers the ANC its enemy and perceives black people as dishonest and incompetent. Are we, the nation who made a peaceful transition to democracy when war was the likely road, no longer brave enough to challenge our own misconceptions? If we are, then it has become time for us to weep for that would be the death of the Rainbow Nation.

Call me ideological if you want, but I refuse to believe that we have fallen that far in such a short space of time and I have come to the conclusion that our quest to redefine our identities has been hijacked by certain people and organizations that have a political interest in the failure of that quest. I’m not making any hard accusations here, but I do find it interesting that the entire debate has become more radical as the Tri-Partite alliance seems to become more fractured and one can only wonder what the formation of Agang and the Workers and Socialist Party will bring to the table. I am convinced though that there are a lot of new nicknames, generalizations and character assassinations in our future. Oh, and you’re going to die someday.

Ultimately though, it is up to each of us to redefine our own (ethnic) identity and to find the bravery required to assimilate into it that which could make us better people and discard from it that which will not.

We are all rapists

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

After the tragic death of Anene Booysen, rape has yet again come to the fore in our national consciousness and, quite predictably, many questions have been asked and many statements made. Eusebius McKaiser wants to know how far we as society would need to be pushed before doing something about it, the President is shocked and, quite predictably, the ANC and certain women of the “feminist persuasion” have called on men to do something about it.

Look, I’m not insensitive or without empathy about the issue. I cannot imagine a more horrific crime to commit and I can well understand the broader issue here. Every time a rape story makes the news, which does seem to happen with increasing frequency these days, everyone is outraged for exactly five minutes, men are called upon to help end this scourge and what usually follows all of this is a big load of nothing. I find this even more loathsome than the actual crime of rape, because according to Ghandi, society is judged by the manner in which it treats and protects its most vulnerable members, but I do want to put a question to all the mentioned people who now again call for action.

What would you have us do?

I mean at the moment all of us who are expected to do something about this thing are basically limited to expressing our outrage on forums like this or joining in the One Billion Rising campaign on V-Day, which is scheduled to happen on the Fourteenth or next Thursday by the way, but the sad truth of the matter is that those who would rape or assault a woman do not give a single ounce of fuck about the demands of the rest of the world. The only thing a man can do at this stage of the game is to teach his son that the violation of women simply does not fly, but that will take decades to have any meaningful effect and the heart-breaking truth is that the rest of society is as powerless to do something about this as the victims are. That is unless we don capes and costumes like Batman and partake in a little vigilante justice as is done in the movies, but this is as illegal as rape itself.

The other question that needs to be asked here is why nobody has said anything about the fact that these three barbarians will most likely go to jail where they will get three meals a day, television and even the chance to improve themselves through education, all of which will be paid for by the taxes levied on us; the “outraged society.” Is this not also a form of rape? Are we not raping Anene’s memory and the emotions of her family by paying for these animals to live a life in prison that is often better than the daily lives of the majority of our country’s free and law abiding citizens?

Yes, I am arguing in favour of the Death Penalty.

I know that most of you will quote the right to life contained in the Bill of Rights to argue that the Death Penalty in unconstitutional, but I put to you that it is actually quite common place for the Law to deprive people of certain human rights if it is deem proper and necessary. Is sending a person to jail not depriving that person of his right to freedom of movement? I think you’ll find that it definitely qualifies. These three men clearly did not have any concern for Anene’s right to life and bodily integrity and it truly boggles my mind that there are people out there who would extend the rights that they deprived her of back to them. To my mind they have forfeited their human rights the moment the raped a young girl, cut out her intestines and left her for dead.

I am truly appalled by the fact that many rape victims in this country and all around the world become the victims of men who have raped and served time in prison because of it before. The thing nobody ever thinks about is that society, with its blind devotion to Human Rights and being humane, is responsible for these men being back on the streets and being able to rape again. Does this fact not make society culpable for these crimes?

Like it or not, we are all guilty of rape and that makes me ashamed to even call myself human.

Sad, is it not? That a nation can get so up in arms about a satirical painting of a man with his wobblies exposed or a white girl (that poses in her under- or swimwear to make a living) that uses a certain word in a tweet, but say nothing when it comes to the constant abuse of and violence against women and children or the deplorable state of health care and other forms of public service in this country. This is especially poignant given the fact that all the other aspects mentioned must logically affect the black population more than the white, given the fact that the majority of people in the country are in fact black; it’s a simple question of odds.

First of all, I reject Sipho Hlongwane’s assessment that the Spear painting insulted millions of black people because the painting depicted the President. I reject this notion because I fail to understand how people can relate to him on the mere basis of skin colour. If that were true I would have to relate myself to said model, to the Reitz 4, the Skierlik Killer and the people who killed Chris Hani on the basis of my skin colour and even go as far as to relate to the doings of one Adolf Hitler on the basis of my German family origins. I also want to know, without any mockery or ill-founded intentions, if black people relate in the same manner to men who whip out their wobblies to urinate in public places or to the serial rapist Cedric Maake? Or is it a question of that relation only applying to people who make it, like Barak Obama, Jacob Zuma, Kenny Kuene and Patrice Motsepe? If that is the case, then Bill Gates better start paying up if you catch my drift.

No, ladies and gentlemen, I do suspect that this is but another example of the racial extremism and racial polarization that the Zuma camp within the ANC has grown to depend on in order to keep their hands on our country’s political steering wheel, because it doesn’t seem to bring anything else to the table. An assessment that seems to be supported by the fact that this is not the first time that the President has been depicted with exposed genitals; an artist by the name of Ayanda Mabuluha done the same thing in 2010 already and that went to pass without so much as a whisper.

 

Since the Jessica dos Santos debacle, I have been grappling with the racial question and why it seems to be on the up after nearly two decades of living in the rainbow nation.

The simple answer is that the issues are being cherry-picked because we are allowing the charlatans posing as our leaders to use the watered down and rapidly thinning excuse of “racism” for reasons of political convenience and in order to preclude logical and reasonable debate, thereby stifling certain democratic processes. We have organizations like Afriforum and Solidarity in combination with people like Steve Hofmeyr claiming that farm murders are in fact an organized low level genocide aimed at exterminating the “angelic providers of a nation,” but I would still like to see statistics on causality and correlation of some other aspect like labour disputes, robbery, et cetera, because I know that a lot of farmers are not as they are being made out to be by these organizations. We’ve had Jacob Zuma on stage with his erstwhile puppet Malema who said nothing when the latter threw racist insult after racist insult at white people and his silence on the hate speech aimed at Lindiwe Mazibuko (tea girl, coconut, etc.) was equally deafening.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we get up in arms when a model uses the word kaffir in a tweet, but remain silent when a black man tweets that “he’d be doing the country a favour by raping Helen Zille.” If we truly want to see an end to racist incidents like this we need to start fighting racism and hate speech in all its forms (white-on-black, black-on-white and black-on-black) and not just when we find ourselves in the wronged camp, because for as long as we do not we are treating the symptoms and not the underlying disease.

I am not foolish enough to discount the role the ANC, SACP, AZAPO and COSATU played in the struggle against the racism and oppression of Apartheid, but then they should not be as foolish or proud as to think that their triumph excuses or exempts them from fighting these aspects in the new South Africa. The same goes for the whites that “fought” Apartheid and/or voted yes to release Nelson Mandela and unban the ANC; you are neither done nor excused from continued service.

I also don’t deny for a second the existence of black anger, black pain and white obliviousness, but I must caution against these concepts as they are easily abused in the same manner as “racism” by politicians. Like Patrick Craven, any politician would be tempted to say that black-on-white racism or violence is “understandable” because of black anger and it would be equally simple to dismiss the political opinion of a white person because they are oblivious to, and therefore ignorant of, the plight of black people. The fact of the matter remains that these are still emotional responses that preclude rational, logical debate and would thus not serve to put an end to the many problems we face as a country. If we are to do this, we must acknowledge our own obliviousness or anger and guard against these aspects with fanatical vigil. Anger can only breed more anger and obliviousness will cause us to do damaging things that we then try to bury beneath our freedom of expression; this is not what we need right now.

Ultimately, our society is like a small child that has just learned to speak and express itself, we do things because we think we can and without any regard for the pain and shame we might inflict on others. So let those who would march on the Goodman Gallery march, but do not let them march for one man’s dignity. Let them march against all the indignity that still occurs in our country today, like the violence against women and children, poor service delivery, fraud, corruption and tenderpreneurship.

Let them march for the dignity of all.

Who’d have thunk it? Comrade President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma actually has a pair of balls, or at least according to artist Brett Murray he does when his term as President of the Nation seems to prove otherwise. 

But let’s be honest here for a moment folks. Our P.I.M.P (Player In a Management Position) does seem to be a tad sensitive when it comes to this sort of thing, I mean, does anyone remember the furore he created over the showerhead imparted on him by cartoonist Zapiro? If memory serves, that one almost wound up in the courts as well, but still the big question remains. 

Is he angry because the Spear is shown or is he upset because that which is shown is not big enough for a man who seems to have a million wives, a hundred times as many booties waiting for that all important call and President of a Nation to boot? And don’t tell me you haven’t wondered about that either, because as far as I can tell Zumatello (he looks like one of them Ninja Turtles) is not exactly an oil painting and if you’ve ever heard him speak, you know he ain’t the sharpest crayon in the box either; so what’s the attraction or are people just that desperate to get on the Gravy Train before the last stop? 

Come to think of it, thank whomever it is we thank for these things that Brett didn’t name the painting the Gravy Train of the Nation; A bride a ride! Damnit and Shit! That which has been thought can never be un-thought and I’ve just scarred myself for life. 

Truth is that the man did bring this upon himself and don’t give me that African Culture crap either, because in an overpopulated World where a disease like AIDS is running rampant people still see African men as savages incapable of controlling their own libido, nobody can even begin to justify polygamy, especially an organisation that aims to rule until Jesus comes. Wasn’t he the guy who said that a man shouldn’t have more than one wife? 

I don’t necessarily agree with the painting, I mean it is rather distasteful, but so is pornography and pop music. Ultimately, I will defend with conviction, passion and some mockery Brett Murray’s right to paint whatever the hell it is he wants, especially when the President’s latest actions again proves that the work is clearly a piece of fiction; Jacob Zuma clearly has no balls and no spine.

I’m giving boring back

Posted: May 7, 2012 in My Life
Tags: , , ,

Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve gotten extremely bad at blogging. I mean seriously, I’ve not posted anything in such a long time that I’ve actually forgotten my password and had to have it mailed back to me. I’m still not quite sure how that happened, but anyway.

Personally, I like to blame my extremely boring life for that fact. I just had nothing to blog about and at some point it got so bad that I became convinced that corpses, geriatrics and people on ventilators had more excitement in their lives than I. The good thing about a life that consisted of work and home, work and home, work and home and some more of the same is that it can’t last.

And it didn’t.

Now I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like giving my phone the Wall of Zen, i.e. sending it on a maiden test flight, buying a 12 bore repeater and a box of shells, as well as a big ass knife (during one particularly busy time) to make the peace with. I have also decided that I shall name Love and Happiness respectively, because Mother always told me to kill people with Love and Happiness and we all know that the last person on Earth that you want to piss off is your own mother; they have scary special powers that defy the imagination of even Stan Lee.

So how did this happen you might wonder.

Firstly I took up the game of golf, or more particularly I took up the game “Try-to-whack-the-ball-spend-ten-minutes-looking-for-it-and-repeat” under the premise of golf, and apart from the developing callouses and the constant smell of frying bacon in the blistering Northern Cape sun (wearing sunscreen is apparently impermissible when playing the manly sport of golf) it’s all going horribly. The rule I got when joining the club is that the worst player on every day has to have a shooter as consolation prize, so I had them write my name on the bottle for the foreseeable future. The upside of this is that I’m getting almost twice as much swing practice as any other player on the day and free booze, which I am still powerless to resist. There is some improvement though and over the course of the last three rounds (on the 19th hole) I discovered a few major problems that need correcting:

  1. I’d be a terrible whore, because I don’t spread my legs far enough.
  2. I fall over like a drunkard, so I either need to get off my heels and onto the balls of my feet or keep the folks behind me so I can yell “Timber” instead of “Ball Right” (they always go right) when I play a stroke. I understand it’s called a stroke, because that’s what you feel like having every time you miss the little fucker.
  3. I can drive like Vettel on the extremely odd occasion, but I always putt like a doos. (Non-Afrikaans readers can refer to the whore bit for translation)
  4. I’m too hasty.  Golf seems to be a game designed with old people and marijuana smokers in mind, so I need to Whoosaa a bit or find a supplier to hook me up.

 

The trick, or so I am told, is time and to just keep swinging, so you may expect an update on my golf game around Christmas. That’s the time I’ve given myself.

The second and far more time consuming thing that I’m doing now is trying to revive the local Squash Club, a sport I am far more familiar with and used to be rather good at. It’s been a lot easier than I anticipated and in the end I managed to get forty people together for a little social league. The first games are kicking off tomorrow night and all that’s left for me to do now is to organize medical assistance because most of them have not played in quite a long time and an Undertaker for yours truly (for the same reason, but with the omission of the “quite”). My first game is only on the 15th though and if you don’t hear anything from me after that, just go ahead and assume that the Undertaker got paid. In the meantime though, you should all start thinking about a local road that might need tarring and since I am not one for the spotlight, I think we’ll name it “Chesterfield Drive.”

It’s all okay though, because no matter how long the time, no matter how many hours I spend on the phone or how painful the process is, I simply do not want the boring back!

Just a thought

Posted: March 27, 2012 in The Good ol' Republic
Tags: , , ,

Over the weekend, I had the extreme displeasure to travel to Gauteng and the O.R Tambo International Airport for a quick pickup and I happened to notice that SANRAL decided to give all their e-toll gates proudly South African names like Owl, Tarentaal (Guinea Fowl), Heron (some kind of bird I think) and so on.

 

Having said my piece on the whole matter, a thought occurred to me and I now have a new question to ask. Given all that’s happened with this system, are the names given to the gantries truly fitting?

 

I don’t think so and in the interest of national unity, a general feel-good attitude and all that other excrement, I wish to propose alternative, yet still Proudly South African Government names for a few of the gantries in the system:

 

Rooivink         –           Fraud

Owl                  –           Corruption

Tarentaal        –           Tenderpreneur

Heron              –           Racketeering

Ilowe               –           (Blatant) Theft

Fiscal              –           Public Ass Raping

Ukhozi             –           (Daylight) Robbery

Kingfischer     –           Embezzlement

Blouvalk         –           Super Profits

Sunbird           –           Extortion

Leeba              –           Another (Public Ass Raping)

 

This might be blowing my own horn, but I think my suggestions sound better and failing that, they are a lot closer to the truth.