I’m going to be cheating today. Kinda. I’ve signed up for a local news-satire site called ZaNews to try and put myself out there a little. Because at some stage, I’m hoping someone will pay me for some of this, so that I can claim to be a writer and look windswept and interesting at parties.
And so I spent the morning writing about politics. I know I promised I wouldn’t, but it was the good kind of politics. The kind I actually like writing about. The kind starts with two young men driving around in a car full of portaloo tanks and ends up with rivers of human waste flowing down the steps of government buildings. Yay.
There are only so many hours in the day, so I’m going to share the piece I wrote with you. Let’s all pretend it’s because I don’t want you guys to miss out on anything, and not at all because I’m tired now.
The good people of the Western Cape are at it again. They’re fighting about toilets. Again. In protest against the fact that portaloos weren’t being emptied often enough, a group of young men who spent a rather suspicious amount of time denying that they were acting for the ANC Youth League emptied some outside the office of the DA, their opposition.
So here, then, is what I sent off in my bid for fame and fortune, or at least a little bit of street cred. Hope you like it;
Up to our necks in it.
Something wonderful happened yesterday. A group of protesters not even vaguely connected to the ANC youth league emptied the contents of five portaloos onto the steps of the Western Cape provincial legislature, mildly inconveniencing Helen Zille and her DA colleagues, who had to wait inside for at least 20 minutes while the ANC-supporting janitorial staff cleaned up the mess. Nice.
This was a warning shot. An opening salvo in next year’s election campaign. Two of the not-even-vaguely-connected-to-the-ANCYL guys, ANC councillor and youth league member Loyiso Nkohla, and ex youth league member Andile Lili, arrived with the plastic tanks full of poo in the back of an Audi. ANC Youth League regional secretary Mfuzo Zenzile was quick to distance the league from the incident.
You cannot help but be impressed. Because this wasn’t a spontaneous outpouring of rage. This was planned. These guys sat around a table and thought this through. The DA had better watch their backs. They aren’t dealing with an unruly mob. They are dealing with a shadowy group of political masterminds.
Just close your eyes and picture the scene;
A small group of people sit around a table in a dimly-lit room completely unconnected to any rooms the ANCYL might use. The only light comes from a single unshaded lightbulb swinging gently from the ceiling. Loyiso Nkohla is there, but not at all in his capacity as a high ranking ANCYL member. He is chatting quietly to Andile Lili, ex ANCYL member. EX. There are five other people in the room, talking to each other in low, conspiratorial voices. Let’s call them A, B, C, D and E. Nkohla stands up and clears his throat;
Nkohla; “Right, guys, it’s time to call this meeting to order. B, D, when you’re ready.”
B & D; “Sorry.”
Nkohla; “I suppose you are wondering why I’ve called you here today. It is time for us, as private citizens who have nothing to do with the youth league, to unveil our strategy for next year’s election.”
Lili; “Hear, hear!”
Nkohla; “Andile and I have thought about this long and hard. We need an issue that stirs the emotions of the people. That makes those godless elitists at the DA look indifferent to the suffering of the masses.”
Nkohla; “We need an issue the DA cannot run from! That they cannot hide from! We need……..portaloos!”
He slams a fist down onto the table, rattling an empty teacup in its saucer and knocking over a glass of water. B slowly raises a hand, looking cautiously round at his co-conspirators.
Lili; “Tell it, brother! Tell i….”
Nkohla; “What is it, B?
B; “I don’t want to sound negative or anything, but didn’t we do toilets last time?”
Nkohla; “Open toilets. We did open toilets. This is a completely different issue. This is portaloos. Now if we can go on, I….”
He looks up and sees that B still has his hand in the air.
Nkohla; “What is it, B? We’ve got a lot to get through.”
B; “It’s just that the open toilet thing didn’t go very well, did it? We did a sterling job of making the DA look callous and uncaring, right up until they found all those open ANC toilets in the Free Sta…”
Nkohla; “Why do you keep going on about open toilets? That’s got nothing to do with this. Portaloos! We’re doing portaloos this time round. They’re completel…. What is it E?”
E; “B’s got a point. We looked like a bunch of arseholes last time. Maybe we should leave the whole issue alone until we get our own outhouse in order, so that….”
Nkohla rises to his feet again, leaning forward with his fists on the table.
Nkohla; “ENOUGH! What do you mean, the whole issue? This is not a whole issue. It is two issues. Do I need to draw you a picture? Portaloos, open toilets. Get it? They are two different things? Ever seen an open toilet at a rock concert? ….No?….I didn’t think so. Can we move along now?”
He pauses for a moment, looking around the room. Another moment. People begin to shift awkwardly in their chairs.
Nkohla; “Right. Let’s get this meeting back on track. Here’s the plan. We’re going to make the Western Cape ungovernable. With poo! In phase one; we will be taking the tanks out of every unemptied portaloo in Khayelitsha to the legislatu…. What now, B?”
B; “How? How are we going to collect several tons worth of human waste in awkwardly shaped plastic containers and get them to the legislature?”
Nkohla; “Trucks. We’ll hire trucks and…”
A; “Can’t. We blew our transport budget on Chivas for the monthly not-the-ANCYL braai last weekend. We…”
Nkohla; “Not you too, A? We’ll make a plan. It’s for the people. We need to stand up to these counter revolu…..”
Lili; “Your Audi.”
Nkohla; “..tionary el… My what?”
Lili; “We can use your Audi. It might take a few more trips, but…”
Nkohla; “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? I just had it valeted. There’s no way I’m..”
A shadowy figure enters the room and looks around.
Mystery man; “Hey guys. How’s it going? Not getting up to any shit, are you?”
He winks broadly at the group and stifles a snigger.
Lili; “Hey, Mfuzo. Loyiso was just saying that we could use his Audi for a top secret non-ANCYL mission. I wish I had his dedication. I’ve only got a Tazz, and I’d never let anyone fill it up with poo!”
Mystery man; “You’re a good man, Loyiso. A real soldier for the cause. I wish everyone had your dedication. Keep up the good work!”
He leaves, and all eyes turn back to Nkohla, who has swelled up with pride.
Nkohla; “Right. As I was saying, we use my Audi to get as many containers of poo as we can to the legislature, and spill it all over their steps. Let’s see how the DA like living in filth and squalor. Let’s se…. What is it, C?”
C; “Won’t they just stay inside and get the cleaners to tidy it up?”
Nkohla; “That doesn’t matter, it’s symb…”
C; “It’ll matter to my aunt.”
Nkohla; “Your what?”
C; “My aunt. She’s a cleaner at the legislature building. Not a DA member. But she’ll have to clean up the poo. Not Zille.”
Nkohla; “Enough. This is not a debate. We’re going ahead with this. It’s not about who cleans up. It’s symbolic. It’s about sending a message. It’s about letting the DA know that we are coming to get them where they live. It’s about letting them know they cannot ignore the needs of the people any more. More than anything else, it’s about letting them know that however much soap they use, however many buckets of water they bring, it will never be enough. We, the not-the-ANCYL, will never run out of weapons in this war. We, the not-the-ANCYL, will always be full of shit!”
It looks like it’s going to be another fun election. I wait with bated breath for the DA to find a nest of unemptied ANC portaloos. Then we can really get started! One thing’s for sure. We’re all going to be in it up to our necks until the whole show is over.