After having passed the "secrecy bill" through parliament yesterday, and with the Mac Maharaj fiasco, a whole range of ridiculing, "naming-and-shaming", gossip-like articles and public comments/jokes have been popping up:
The first thing that popped into my mind was this: according to what we know about social influence (a.k.a. power), there are two major mechanisms that society uses to remove it. Those mechanisms are gossip and ridicule. The moment we perceive those in power to not be acting in our interests any more we employ these mechanisms, and from the little I can see at the moment, it would seem as though the middle/upper class in South Africa is using them against the ANC. (The middle/upper class minority is generally the only group with access to this sort of media and voice in South Africa at the moment - and you will see clearly from the people commenting on the various news articles that it is no longer just "white" people who make up this group).
Some of the most prominent spokespeople and organisations in South Africa are also chiming in:
It will be interesting to watch how things play out here. The middle/upper class minority doesn't have much by way of voter might, but what else does this minority control? How else can it flex its own power? Nothing draws a disjoint, individualistic society like our middle/upper class together like a common enemy. The media just might have the influence to be able to co- ordinate this.
Although, we do have a reputation for sitting comfortably and quietly behind our 3m-high walls, security gates and laser beams inside our security estates when the going gets tough (largely because we feel our actions won't make any difference whatsoever, saying: "who are we to go up against the under-educated masses who vote for whichever politician sings the best tune or dances the best dance?"). We point out that the ANC constantly acts against the interests of those who voted them into power and those most vulnerable in society. (By the way, if they're not acting in the interests of the masses, and the minorities are also indicating, by way of gossip and ridicule as pointed out, that the ANC is not acting in their interests, in whose interests is the ANC really acting?). We sit and gossip to each other about how little the government actually works for us, and recount hundreds of tales of incompetence, and of being inconvenienced and insulted. We complain about paying relatively exorbitant taxes in exchange for poor or non-existent service delivery. We're tired of hearing about how R20 of every R100 in our hard-earned taxpayer money goes to greasing the palms of corrupt politicians and public servants - and how they're now, with a "secrecy bill", going to be able to legally cover it up (an opinion which, admittedly, might just be blown out of proportion at the moment). We then still live in blissful ignorance, telling ourselves: "don't worry, everything's going to carry on just as it's always carried on".
Perhaps, by the time we're moved by worsening circumstances to take any serious action, leveraging our collective influence, it will be too late.