2015 Archive

Tannie Evita’s New Year’s wish for President Zuma  – Evita Bezuidenhout, News24, 1 January 2016 — Want to know what the 2016 soundtrack will be? Well, South Africa’s most beloved Tannie, Evita Bezuidenhout, says the winning number is likely to be I did it my way, sung by Jacob Zuma while floating on an inflatable mattress in his “firepool”.

And that’s not all 2016 will have in store.

The Queen of Quips and Koeksisters says she hopes that Zuma will have so much leisure time, because, by then, he will have resigned.

In an interview this week with News24, facilitated by her alter ego, Pieter Dirk Uys, Bezuidenhout offered Zuma a New Year’s wish: to “resign for health reasons, with full amnesty”.

To sweeten the deal, she even offered as a retirement gift, Nkandla — the president’s traditional homestead, recently adorned with R246m of taxpayers’ money for security upgrades, and the very location of his infamous fire-fighting mosaic-tiled water source.

The tongue-in-cheek Tannie’s generosity clearly knows no bounds, for she even proposed that if Zuma makes a final voluntary political exit, “we will rename an airport after you!”

Offering further wisdom as an elder of our nation, Bezuidenhout also gave her suggestions for a South African 2016 survival kit.

The self-proclaimed “most famous white woman in South Africa” urged fellow countrymen and women to attend “weekly classes to learn an African language” in the new year.

The darling of Darling also suggested that the way to the rainbow nation’s heart could be through its tummy: Her cookbooks Kossie Sikelela and Bossie Sikelela (of which royalties go to the charitable Darling Trust) would be the perfect tools to ensure South Africans “cook for reconciliation”, she advised.

However, number one on Bezuidenhout’s list of essentials for 2016 is a “valid passport” so that citizens can ensure they vote in the country’s municipal elections this year.

In fact, in a serious turn, she suggests that the “the upcoming municipal elections will probably be the most important elections in our history”.

“If we can vote into power honest, dedicated and uncorrupted municipalities, we will eventually have an honest, committed and uncorrupted central government.

“If not, we will lose our country…”

The iconic figure imagines that one of the surprises in 2016 will be the role that the born-free generation plays in post-apartheid South Africa.

“They are angry and disappointed – and they will start making their demands for a better future, probably at the expense of the status quo.”

The effervescent and energetic Tannie recently celebrated her 80th birthday, yet, she says, when she looks at the “excitement on the faces” of her three grandchildren, it makes her “feel like a born-free who believes that democracy can make my dreams come true”.

Hi, my name is Evita and I’m a racist

As South African students protest over ongoing inequality, the nation’s beloved fictional character enters the debate on white privilege
— Evita Bezuidenhout, The Guardian, 4 March 2016

I watched a film on TV with my grandchildren last night. I can’t remember the name, or much of the plot, but I remember it was about a man who had a drinking problem and he went to a meeting.

You could see how much courage it took him to go up onto the stage in front of everyone and say: “Hi, my name is John and I am an alcoholic.” And all the alcoholics in the audience answered: “Hi John.”

Well, I decided that maybe I should start this conversation by saying: “Hi, my name is Evita and I’m a racist.” Now you can all say: “Hi Evita!”

Let me quote the French philosopher Voltaire: “Racism is the hostile attitude or behaviour to members of other races based on a belief in the innate superiority of one’s own race. It is not restricted to whites only.”

The only way for an alcoholic to confront the disease of alcoholism is to admit it: I drink therefore I will not drink. Then surely one way for a racist to confront that disease is to be honest: I am a racist therefore I will not be a racist.

I will not judge people because of the colour of their skin, or how they dress, or what they eat. I will not be a racist in the city traffic when the township taxi cuts in front of me. I will not be a racist when politics passes me by. I will not believe in the innate superiority of my race.

I was born in South Africa in 1935 into a racist family. I went to a racist school and a racist church. My God was a racist and so was his Son. I married into a racist family. I became the wife of a racist member of a racist parliament who served in the racist cabinet of a racist prime minister and praised by a racist press.

My children were brought up as racists. In fact, till my 59th year and the country’s first democratic election, if I hadn’t been a racist I would have been locked up in jail as a communist or a terrorist.

An enemy of the state. A traitor. And it is only because a man came out of darkness on 11 February 1990 and gave me light that I realised that it was no longer politically correct to be a racist in South Africa. Nelson Mandela allowed me to stop being scared of who I was, and to celebrate who I am –- an African who is not black.

There are so many urgent areas of our survival that need to be touched upon in this conversation. Education, poverty, violence, crime, security, corruption, xenophobia, the past, the present and the future. So why do I start with this issue?

Racism is not new. It’s not unexpected. It’s not profound. But if we here in 2016 do not allow ourselves to get beyond it with understanding and honesty, we will once again be imprisoned by that accusation and every other issue will fade by comparison. The first step in the right direction towards our planned non-racial, non-sexist society is to admit that the majority of South Africans are racists one way or another, finish en klaar.

South Africa has nearly completed its 21st year of democracy and considering where we come from, we are doing remarkably well. Everyone’s fingerprints are on that silver chalice of freedom. Everybody has the right to be seen and to be heard. And so democracy will never be perfect and so it isn’t. It is confused. It is corrupt. It is crippled. It is unfair. It is infuriating. But it is the best thing we have.

Either we accept that and make it better, or we shrug our shoulders and allow our hiccup of hope to slide into the mists of historical memory. In a healthy democracy the people must lead and then the government will follow. But free expression also attracts those new obstacles littering the internet highway.

Today, social media forces us down high roads of political correctness and along low paths of innuendo and insult. On Monday, #FeesMustFall. (If only they would, but in reality they won’t.) On Tuesday, #RhodesMustFall. (Alas, the only roads that do are the ones falling prey to potholes and disrepair.) What will a hashtag trend today? #XenophobiaMustFall?

And tomorrow? Economic inequality must fall! (It’s happening; we’ll all soon be equally bankrupt.) And yes, racism should have fallen 22 years ago; and yet today it just keeps trending and being tweeted and retweeted.

I was very nervous when I joined the African National Congress. Why would they welcome me? Everyone knows who I am and where I come from: Evita Bezuidenhout, former apartheid government icon, ambassador to the homeland of Bapetikosweti and racist supporter of former president PW Botha. “Sanibona,” I said, “I want to join the ANC.” “Do you have cash?” they asked. I said yes. “Okay, you’re in.”

I know people still say: seeing Evita Bezuidenhout in the ANC is like seeing Angela Merkel as a Greek bank manager. I have been in the party headquarters Luthuli House for over a year and I am still shocked when I realise with how much prejudice I arrived there. Yes, the familiar accusation that all members of the ANC are corrupt, are criminals, are stealing state funds.

We will always find six corrupt cadres to fill the front pages of the newspapers every morning, but there are hundreds of thousands of members of the ANC who are not corrupt. They are working hard to keep the fragile balance of our democracy so that hopefully we will be able to vote freely and fairly when the next election comes around.

But we as the ANC must admit that many of today’s problems are not the legacy of apartheid. The drought, textbooks not in schools, the HIV epidemic, Zuma’s tax-payer funded home Nkandla, problems at the electricity public utility Eskom, the telecommunication provider Telkom, and the national post office. The fall of the currency.

One thing that definitely is the legacy of apartheid and responsible for a lot of our troubles is seeing and counting people in terms of their race. Black vs white. Coloured vs black, Zulu vs Xhosa, rural vs urban, revolutionary vs counter-revolutionary.

Blah vs blah.

I am sick of being white. I am tired of listening to white outrage and complaint. Enough white noise. When will we realise that white South Africans in our rainbow nation have been given the greatest liberation of all its people. We are now totally irrelevant.

No one cares a damn about us. So we can do everything to make this country a better place. We don’t need permission to go to the local school and help the learners with their homework. We don’t have to submit tenders to share our optimism and hopes. It can just be done by doing it. We are what we do.

As news breaks from Europe, I realise that history is repeating itself. I have been approached off the record by persons who wish to remain nameless for obvious reasons. They are from France, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and Germany. And all they say is: “Comrade Bezuidenhout, we are having a little problem in Europe with uninvited guests. Maybe you can help? Surely you remember the way it was done so successfully?”

Yes, during apartheid we called it influx control. We had pass laws, mixed marriage acts, locations, groups areas acts, a population registration act made sure who belonged where. Easy to rub out “coloured, black, Indian, Chinese” and replace them with “Muslim”.

Who would have thought that apartheid was 25 years ahead of the world? But I must be careful how well I advise the Europeans. With whites making up a mere 6{8e5323caff772598f79904570968e898e591e926c647ac5867ba2b40038ca34f} of the South Africa population, the possibility of us clustered at the Croatian border with a few pathetic possessions clutched in shopping bags is not so far-fetched.

So are we white South Africans prepared to take the back seat? Believe me, as a member of the ANC from a protected minority, I have found the back seat very comfortable. As long as the driver isn’t drunk, or carrying a forged license. We whites can never and we whites will never again lead, but we can lead by example. Things will not go back to what they were. What you see is what we’ve got. This is it. Let’s make the best of what we have got.

“Hi! My name is Evita – and I am a South African.”

This is an edited version of a speech given to the Cape Town Press Club

Master storyteller Pieter-Dirk Uys picks up his own tale

— Debbie Hathaway, Financial Mail, 26 May 2016

FOR the first time in over four decades of show business, Pieter-Dirk Uys is shedding the grease paint, false nails, big hair and high heels that have helped mould his career as SA’s foremost satirist, to get a little (or a lot) more personal in his autobiographical one-man memoir, The Echo of a Noise.

“In 40 years of performance, I’ve never done something like this,” says Uys. “I’ve always written shows with characters and had various masks to wear and security blankets to hide behind, but this time it’s just me and you.”

He began to conceptualise the production once he had the name. “I always start with the title,” says Uys, “and I thought: what does it mean? Have I become the echo of a noise of the past? Or am I the echo of a noise reinventing itself for the future? Or is it the noise of my life — the music I grew up with because both my parents were concert pianists and Mozart was my best friend? Or was it the noise from arguments I had with my father? Or was it the noise of the National Party government saying ‘shut up, you may not do this’ and me saying ‘I will, I will, I will’?” At once candid and intimate, Uys shares his memories as only a master storyteller can — with passion, humour, intelligence and great sensitivity — while he reflects on his life, growing up in SA; his parents; his “coloured mother” from Athlone (near Cape Town) who looked after him for years and taught him to “speak Afrikaans properly with all the swear words — and changed so much of my life“; breaking down the barriers of “separate development” with humour; being “half Jewish, half German, half Afrikaans”.

Uys describes his father as a great jazz pianist and organist, an extrovert — Oom Hannes, whom everybody loved, but “Pa was the one I fought with”. “We didn’t love each other; we didn’t even like each other. But when my mother killed herself (she jumped off Chapman’s Peak), it ended our lives. We had to start again, a different relationship, without her.”

The family home was full of music. (Uys’s parents met as concert pianists performing a Mozart double concerto at Cape Town City Hall.) “We had no TV but there were always visitors, conversation and lots of laughter — not because things were funny but because people were in charge of their fear. We were always allowed to be there as long as we weren’t bored, having been told ‘if you’ve got something to say, make sure it’s interesting’.”

Uys arguably has a nose for fear and he takes inspiration from that. “If people are scared of an opinion, let’s explore the opinion. If it offends people I’m glad. I want to offend everybody, at least once, because it means I’ve rattled your cage. I don’t want to insult anybody or demean them, or use all the ’isms.” This is the man who wrote a character into his Sunday Express newspaper column to challenge the status quo in the late 1970s and gave her life in 1982 as Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, the most famous white woman in SA.

Uys describes himself simply as an entertainer, someone who has to take audiences out of their world and make them recognise things they don’t want to remember, using humour to highlight things that are weird and obscene. He says his father’s cousin was DF Malan, the first National Party prime minister in 1948 — “half the family was in the other camp, so humour was a weapon of mass destruction and distraction”.

“I try not to take sides –- it’s about equal opportunity satire, a delicate balance, a constant reinvention. And I take nothing for granted; what was acceptable yesterday might not be acceptable today. That is the bottom line.”

Uys lives in Darling, where his own Evita se Perron venue celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, because he loves the fact that there’s so much fresh air. “I love the people, the community, the children; it’s like a huge family. The cities are just so big and the statistics are so terrifying. At least in Darling there are no statistics and everybody has a name. And it’s just an hour from the airport, which means it’s an hour away from New York.”

Tannie Evita takes centre stage for two or three shows a weekend (90 a year) when Uys has no other theatre commitments, but fans can bank on at least a Sunday afternoon performance or catch her reality show on YouTube. “It’s very much showing off in the lounge — I walk down from my house and do the shows without the paraphernalia of a commercial theatre,” says Uys.

Evita is never seen without heels, except on July 18 when she walks with the local children to the animal shelter to devote 67 minutes to the pets in their care for Mandela Day. “If Evita doesn’t look right, she’s wrong. And I’ve been known to diet for her. I’m 80kg now, and she’s gorgeous at 80kg!” says Uys. “Women must recognise the woman and men must forget the man. That’s always been the key to her look. I spend a fortune on the shoes, because that’s the first thing women look at. If your shoes are kak you’ve lost them. And women also notice the nails, and the jewellery. But now less is more … I have learnt from Sophia Loren, who at 81 is looking unbelievable, with such class and a wonderful sense of style …

“I think Sophia Loren saved my life when I was a little boy. I had a picture of Hendrik Verwoerd on the wall because he was a ‘gift from God’ (according to my church and school). Then I found a picture of this beautiful girl in Stage and Cinema magazine and I cut it out and stuck it up on the wall and within two days Hendrik Verwoerd fell off because her legs were better than his. I was 11 and she was 22,” says Uys.

The Echo of a Noise, on the other hand, is 70-75 minutes long — “a Game of Thrones attention span, except there’s no violence and there are no dragons”.

“It’s interesting being on a stage without Evita, but it’s okay,” says Uys. “I feel like a 12-year-old, [I’m so excited] to be able to share all these marvellous moments with an audience … and stories … because actually that’s what it’s all about.”

Pieter takes on new role –- himself

— Gasant Abarder, Cape Argus, 27 May 2016

“You want an interview with Evita Bezuidenhout? You can! This is one woman I’m very glad I didn’t have to meet face-to-face.”

Pieter-Dirk Uys is sharp to my playful ice-breaker question of arranging an interview with Tannie Evita (watch this space!).

I can’t help feeling guilty because soon Pieter will take on his first stage show, at the age of 70, as himself.

But inevitably, we talk about the darling from Darling. Evita is a role he’s played for more than three decades. Has his alter ego become blurred with his true self?

“I do know her well because she has been with me for over 30 years. One has to build up a history and build up opinions, purely because people kept on asking me the questions like ‘what is her surname?’ She didn’t have a surname. A journalist from an Afrikaans Sunday newspaper asked me in 1982, when Evita had just appeared in Adapt or Dye at the Market Theatre.

“He asked what’s the surname and there was a poster on the wall behind him which read ‘The Seagull –- Aletta Bezuidenhout’.

“Her whole history has just been an answer to people’s questions. It had to be entertaining.

“Now she’s a member of the ANC, which is the only logical place for Evita to be because that is power. Opposition is about complaining.

“She is cooking for reconciliation. I have some wonderful SMSes and e-mails from my friends in Luthuli House saying, ‘We saw her in the passage.’ Just because she doesn’t exist doesn’t mean she’s not real!

“She must never be me, then it’s not real. I’m a multi-phrenic, not a schizophrenic… I have all sorts of compartments where emotions can be channelled for characters.

“The only thing I have a problem with is PW Botha because without my hair I look just like PW Botha.

“But I want the women to recognise the woman and the men to respect the man. In fact, Nelson Mandela treated her like a lady. He used to say: ‘Ah, Evita. You look so beautiful.’ Then he’d hug her and whisper in my ear.

“I said to him, after many experiences with him and Evita: ‘President Mandela, every time you see me I’m dressed as a Evita.’

“He said: ‘Don’t worry, Pieter, I know you’re inside’.”

Pieter’s brand of satire has always cut close to the bone and been politically on point. But it’s never about offending to such an extent that it polarises. There are areas he deliberately avoids –- racism and religion, for example.

It’s a minefield that Pieter has very skilfully negotiated over his career and something that has become all the more onerous with the advent of social media.

“I have a definition: 49 percent anger, 51 percent entertainment. The other way around doesn’t work. Then it’s a Penny Sparrow story. The red line of racism is very, very sharp on the ground. That’s the discipline. You don’t cross that for an easy laugh.

“But the fact that people are reacting with such passion shows that satire works. That’s the whole point of it. People say you mustn’t offend. I want to offend… everybody… but not all of the time.

“But racism and sexism and all the -isms are a tremendous minefield that we have to be very careful not to get swallowed up in.

“Social media has become the enema of society –- een spuit en die poephol is vol! When you look at all these issues, it is an enormous challenge.

“We have extraordinary freedom of expression, freedom of speech. In its different disguises sometimes you think, please can we not have freedom of expression –- Mr Theunissen, for example.” (That’s Matthew Theunissen, the man who took to Facebook to use the K-word) castigating the government after Fikile Mbalula’s banning of various sports codes from hosting international events.)

But for his next project, and in an almost biopic kind of way, Pieter is delving into very personal terrain. Gone are the masks of Tannie Evita and the other characters he has used as a security blanket over the years.

His new show The Echo of a Noise (Pieter-Dirk Uys unpowdered –- at last!) starts at the Theatre on the Bay from
May 31.

It’s a stark scene on stage with the spotlight on Pieter sitting on a barstool, wearing his famous black beanie and his “Almost Famous” sweatshirt, opening up about his public and, until now, very private life.

“I am so pleased that I am still alive and sharp enough to balance stories into a 90-minute experience that I can share with people.

“People don’t know… I’ve been very, very private because I’m not the issue here. But you reach a certain time when the audition is over and the disease to please has been cured.”

So we get personal and Pieter starts speaking about his Pa, Hannes Uys, with whom he had a difficult relationship .

It resonates because on the day of this interview my own father, Achmat Abarder, celebrated his 73rd birthday.

My dad, until retiring very recently, was the ultimate provider. Growing up in Mitchells Plain we never wanted for anything, and he and my mom Aleweya created opportunities for my siblings and me to make something of our lives.

My dad, in particular, was so busy being the provider and creating opportunities for us that we seldom connected as father and son.

Even now when I call home and he’ll pick up, he hands over the phone with a “Here’s mom” after exchanging a few pleasantries.

I observe him now connecting with my children and see the father I never connected with on an emotional level. The father that I, despite my crazy life as a journo, want to be.

For Pieter, the father and son relationship was fraught because his choices didn’t meet his dad’s expectations.

“I’ve always been behind something because in the beginning I was poep scared of having anything to say. This is the first time I’m actually without the security blankets.

“It’s the story about me growing up in this country with extraordinary people around me –- my ma, my pa and music, because they were both musicians. This celebration of survival is the story about pa. I never thought I’d write about my pa. We never got on until years later when he suddenly realised I was actually making money doing what I was doing.

“What I noticed with the show, because I do some performances at the Perron as a way of trying out new material, is how many people are sharing with me memories of their parents, memories of tensions with the father.

“My mother committed suicide, so that’s something that doesn’t go away, no matter how much you think time heals. And then up against this government of ooms because my father’s cousin was the first National Party Prime Minister, Dr Malan, so I had family in that laager.

“And so having the family saying: ‘What are you doing here?’ Being gay –- also illegal so you’re a criminal because you’re breaking the Immorality Act.

“And finding out apartheid was wrong… and getting to know people that were living on the other side of the moon and they were just down the road.

“The theatre of course did a lot because when you study drama you study humanity through the ages. If you fight it with anger, you get stopped.”

Pieter identifies with my relationship with my dad. Of course, my dad and I don’t have to express our love and respect for each other verbally to know. But these days the emotionally attentive father figure is a much-needed and rare commodity.

Pieter plays the father figure role in a somewhat different way with his activism in the area of HIV/Aids promoting active citizenry and working against voter apathy.

But his latest work may be his most important yet. It’s a vehicle for opening up dialogues on relationships we never had between father and son, as families, as a nation. “Do you have a chance to sit down with your kids as parents and speak to them? I didn’t. There were so many things I wanted to know that I didn’t ask. I was so scared.

“My mother was Jewish. We didn’t know until she died. She came from Berlin and the Nazis chucked her out. But we never, never talked about those things.

“I think it was a generational thing. I think it’s different now. But it’s great to remember and also to remind, especially the kids growing up. I’m finding families are coming to the show. It’s about stories.

“My pa always said, ‘die vloek woorde. Sies! Dis onnodig.’

“He once said to me he comes to the show and I use these swear words and it’s like I stick a finger in his eye. He’s so angry he can’t even see.

“ ‘Why don’t you use that finger to tickle me behind my ear and when I’m having a nice time and when I want to see what is giving me the nice time I turn my head around and my eye will find your favour. Don’t be obvious, find different ways’. That is great advice. It is obviously a big signpost: the death of a parent. That tiny little thing, that little comment, changes your life.”

Pieter doesn’t give himself enough credit. He is effortlessly and naturally funny.

Comedy has always been an important antidote for our most immense challenges as a nation, and Pieter has been constant in our discourse – disarming even the most stoic personalities and ideas with charm.

He is also an optimist about our country and where we’re headed.

“During apartheid everyone understood, even a 6-year-old wore a ‘Free Mandela’ T-shirt. There was no redeeming feature.

“Then I had to speak on behalf of millions of people who didn’t have a voice. Now it’s only my voice, my opinion in this democracy.

“In this country you have the right to disagree, I have to make you laugh at your fear, and when you laugh at your fear you can’t be that frightened of it.

“It can still kill you, but you’ve looked it in the face.

“I must be honest with you, I never thought we whites would get away with apartheid. I thought the hell was going to break loose because there was no apology for what we were doing.

“We, me –- I keep on saying I’m as responsible. When I went overseas people said, ja maar… but where’s the cultural boycott? Why am I allowed here? They’d say but you’re different. I’m not different. I’m a white Afrikaner, what makes me different?

“One has to take responsibility for the guilt, but the guilt can also be very creative to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“I have to sometimes pull back from the political because one has to. Remember, for every piece of bad news there are two pieces of good news. But they’re not easily found because they’re busy working. Optimism is very important for me.

“But I think we’re in a pretty healthy state as a democracy. After 22 years of coming out of something so terrifying and it will never be perfect. But the biggest problem for me, where we are now, is that we, the citizens, are not doing our homework.

“There is just too many of my generation who are now CEOs or retired and who should be giving thought in leadership and discussion who don’t want to know. That’s why the entertainment industry is important for me to seduce people to come –- knowing that I will deliver, but I’ll also give them something to take home with them.

“Something that will make them say ‘Hey, I never thought of that’.”

‘Democratic governments are finding democratically acceptable ways to defuse democracy’

— Pieter-Dirk Uys, Mail & Guardian, 29 June 2016

Throw away the blueprints, shred the templates. Have no expectation of something being like it once was. It won’t be, it can’t, and maybe it shouldn’t be. Democratically elected governments worldwide are finding democratically accepted ways to defuse democracy. And maybe the people have fallen out of love with that blueprint –- that once everyone has representation in society, everyone will be looked after.

Generations today have not experienced the horrors of total war, the last of which ended in 1945. Reality television has now proved that he who dictates will deliver and, if you don’t make the grade, you’ll be fired.

The European Union has been fired by one of its members and, as a result, the United Kingdom is having a nervous Brexit. They say democracies have a habit of vomiting up the worst in a nation, especially when the nation asks for it.

It has been a comfort to hope that, if the people lead, the government will follow. The UK in this case proves the point. Prime Minister David Cameron based his political future on a “remain” vote and lost. He is resigning.

Here, in South Africa, when the highest court in the land exposed unconstitutional executive action, no one resigned. Some even giggled.

I remember our most recent referendum back in the 1990s when President FW de Klerk challenged white South Africa to decide: “yes” to change, or “no” to a future. He won the support of the majority of the minority, which led to the legalisation of illegalities and so ushered in the unthinkable. Many whites said: “This is goodbye and totsiens to civilisation as we know it. It will be the end of our white nationalist Christian society.” Ja nee.

Those naysayers were wrong because they were right (wing). Which makes me wonder whether the “leave” voters in the UK reflect many of the same prejudices and racist fears that we also harboured and protected when we were a pariah state and exited the world.

So let Brexits be bygones. My friends in London are certain that soon a new prime minister will have all the right systems in place for the UK to make a clean break from the EU. Others in Europe laugh and say: “Hang on, Britain. You left us. Now get into the queue. We have to first sort out the foot-and-mouth disease among cows in Romania and the overlarge grapefruits smuggled into the EU through Latvia. We’ll get back to you in … say … 2036?”

Does this now mean that more Brits will empty their piggybanks and come to South Africa where, despite the financial speed wobble of June 23, they will still be able to buy a R10-million villa in Clifton for £495 000?

Change is never easy or comfortable unless your army invades a country and kills everyone. The will of the people is not something to encourage carelessly. Before you know it, there will be a replay of Christians and lions in world arenas, with Muslims cast as food for the big cats. It is said that, in an upside-down society, the lowest common denominator floats on top.

Most British voters who supported the “leave” faction probably didn’t even read the small print. They just wanted to get rid of the amakwere-kwere down the road: Poles up the pole, Germans in the bar, Greeks in the café, Somalis in the ditches and Syrians in the queues. Muslim is now the new black.

South Africa managed the control of unwanted elements “legally” and some even say “democratically”. Those apartheid laws were passed in an exclusive Parliament for whites only and, for 46 years, from 1948 to 1994, our Brexit was held at bay. When it broke, the tsunami of change drowned our complaints with bribes, compromises, free sausage rolls and political correctness. Our Brexit was also hailed as the beginning of the rest of our lives. En kyk hoe lyk ons nou!

So who knows? The ballot of August 3 looms closer as the flames of anger soar. Red banners and berets wave in the winds of change. If a careless and lazy reaction to the municipal election results in a business-as-usual corruption of hopes and expectations, we might soon meet again at the Greek-Croatian border with a tattered Pick n Pay bag in our hands, hoping for a job in Hamburg as a nanny to some overweight German children.

Meanwhile, the Irish Republic will have merged with Northern Ireland, both part of the EU, with a happy wave towards their independent Scottish allies, beyond the sulking glare of the isolated Welsh.

The remains of what once was a Great Britain could then join the African Union if they felt too lonely. That would be home from home for all those now seen as unwanted immigrants because the British Empire ruled their world once too.

So expect the worst hoping that the worst will never be as bad as you imagine. That’s the new definition of optimism. Cartoonists, satirists and pundits sigh with relief. Now get ready to welcome President Donald Trump into the White House and Prime Minister Boris Johnson into Number 10 Downing Street.

Do you think they share a hairdresser with German Chancellor Angela Merkel?

Pieter-Dirk Uys is a satirist and writer. Visit pdu.co.za

An open letter to the ANC from Tannie Evita

Evita Bezuidenhout says she will not resign as a member of the ANC, but issues a challenge to the party’s leadership.
— Evita Bezuidenhout, The Star, 30 August 2016

Dear Comrades

I am not writing this in my personal capacity as a gogo, a citizen and a democrat, but as a member of the ANC.

I have been a member since July 2014 and as a loyal cadre have been operational where the party has deployed me without question – in the kitchen of Luthuli House, cooking for reconciliation.

I asked a simple question: “What do people think of when they see a fat politician in Parliament?” They immediately think of a thin voter. And many ANC voters are poorer and thinner than ever before.

All Julius Malema has to do this 2019 General Election is promise them everything and anything and they will vote him and his party into power democratically.

I was supported by Pravin Gordhan and the Treasury to put the cabinet on a diet. The diet has worked. Members of the cabinet were recently seen fitting into economy-class seats on SAA.

The results of the municipal elections were not unexpected. What was remarkable was the brilliant performance of the IEC and the mass of voters who proved that they have learnt a lot in the past 21 years. The fact that we in the ANC conceded defeat where we lost ground is also a good indication of a free and fair election.

But my life in the kitchen has become hard to bear. From mid-morning to late at night, streams of comrades slip in under the pretext of asking for a bottle of still water. They just sit and shake their heads.

They need not only comfort food after the election results, but also comforting advice from someone who has seen it all.

I was a faithful cadre in the Afrikaanse Nasionale Kongres, also known as the National Party. My husband was a cabinet minister –- only promoted because of his slavish devotion to he whom we called Number One. We all became fat, rewarded for nodding in agreement without question and allowing the corrupt to overpower the committed.

It was easy then because we called corruption “policy” and it ruled the country from 1948 to 1994.

Now over two decades into a democracy that no one ever thought would happen, I find it essential to not sit on my laurels as the so-called most famous white woman in South Africa.

I could have remained in my well-earned retirement, revelling in Nelson Mandela’s words to me when he in 1994 said: “You are one of my heroes.”

My born-free grandchildren said to me: “Gogo, what are you going to do to protect democracy, so that one day when we need to vote freely and fairly, democracy will still be there in full working condition?”

That is why I took a deep breath and dived back into the cesspool of active politics. Parliament is now either a DA parking garage or a playpen for the Tellytubbies of the EFF. Luthuli House is the only power station that the ANC has built since 1994 and so that is where I am. And that is where I will stay.

So why do I remain a member of the ANC? When I walked into the building I brought with me all the prejudice that so many South Africans, especially those not black, share: that everyone in the ANC is today a crook, corrupt and careless. No. I have met so many people in the party who are still working hard to keep the country more or less balanced.

I have met women in the ANCWL who are working for the protection of women and children and are not all gogo-dancing around the president. I have met so many young members of the ANCYL, some even younger than 39, who are not there to exploit present confusions for their own enrichment.

But I have also met a faction of clever, hard-working, ambitious and charismatic comrades focused on getting the most for themselves before their mentor trips over his next mis-speech.

They are ruthless and successful because they know that as loyalty to the president is paramount, no one will dare challenge their thievery in the public arena.

So I will not resign as a member of the ANC and leave them to party. I see too many reminders of what I and mine accepted as politics-as-usual during the 1980s. I have been challenged by my grandchildren and through them the youth of South Africa to cherish and guard the legacy of Luthuli, Tambo, Mandela and whoever comes next to complete this sentence.

I won’t leave the sinking ship –- this great ocean liner of liberation that has hit the iceberg of Nkandlaism. I saw the film Titanic and the poorest passengers were locked in the hull and not given lifeboats as the ship went down.

I might be the last one to blow out the candles in Luthuli House when everyone else has fled to the DA, the EFF, IFP or whatever new party already in conception, but it is time to pay back for what we did in the old Afrikaner Nasionale Kongres.

I owe it to the nation and my grandchildren.

At the very last minute when all seemed lost, the National Party managed to patriotically salvage and protect the last vestiges of decency. On the morning of February 2, 1990, I wrote a letter to our Number One, and just casually in a postscript asked: “FW, why don’t you do something now that no one would expect?”

He did. That is why this letter of mine now is so essential. Dear fellow ANC comrades, why don’t you do something now that no one would expect?

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Tannie Evita
Evita Bezuidenhout, still regarded as the most famous white woman in South Africa, was born Evangelie Poggenpoel of humble Boer origins in the dusty Orange Free State town of Bethlehem on 28th September 1935.