Friday, October 22, 2004

Thinking about the government 

Ahh, South Africa… you’ve got to love it, and I do, despite what I sometimes type here.

Our president, Thabo Mbeki, was on TV last night. On SABC (the state broadcaster), he was reiterating the government’s commitment to healthcare and the fight against AIDS. On eTV, he was dodging some difficult questions from the opposition about his beliefs about the causes of AIDS, and refusing to be prompted into admitting that HIV causes AIDS. Just for the record, South Africa has more AIDS victims that any other country on the planet.

On Wednesday, it rained all day: monsoon city, thunder, lightning, huge puddles everywhere, floods, a water-logged garden, and an over flowing pool. Today (Friday) it is mid 20s (Celsius), a few puffy clouds scattered in a neon blue sky, and I wish I was on the beach.

The other night I was sitting on the sofa when I felt something tickling my leg. I hoiked up my trousers to dislodge a tiny bug, about a fifth of the size of my little fingernail, which then wriggled about hopelessly on the floor. On closer examination, it turned out to be a tick, which I must have picked up when walking the dogs. Ticks are nasty little buggers, attaching themselves to nice warm parts of your anatomy then sucking your blood so they swell up to 3 or 4 times their original size, like a cartoon character plugged into a hosepipe. They can also give you something that everyone tells me is Very Nasty called tick bite fever. Nobody seems to know quite what tick bite fever does to you, only that it is Very Nasty. Having intercepted him heading north up my leg, I don’t want to imagine where he might have ended up. The trick when removing them is to burn them off, so you don’t leave the head behind. They move very slowly, so once you have found them, they are easy to catch, but difficult and unsatisfying to kill, in that you have to squish them with something hard. The reverse of a cockroach, then, which is hard to catch, but very satisfying to splatter. Nice topic.

Back to South Africa, which is – according to the Economist – the 44th least corrupt country in the world, not as good as Italy (42nd), but better than South Korea (47th). Meanwhile the deputy president, Jacob Zuma, is on trial by proxy as it emerges that a close friend of his paid him a small fortune, whilst simultaneously working with one of the companies that won a huge government contract as part of the arms deal. At the very least. Worst case, Zuma took bribes to block any questioning in Parliament of the arms deal, and smoothed the path for his friends to get the work. Let’s see what the judge says. Our judiciary is far more independent than the state broadcasters, luckily.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?