in the midst of a bitter cold…and the shortest day of the years moves dates due to Leap Year (bet you didn’t know that)
I left Canada many years ago to get away from the cold and snow and now what? The reason my wife and I trek north every winter to the warmth of better latitudes is to just to avoid the cold, but with Covid curtailing things, its space heaters and sweaters and suffer in silence. We South Africans have not learned that it gets cold every winter. The first settlers in Canada had beach parties and drank piña coladas all summer long and when the bitter snows of winter came they all froze and starved to death. The next batch of settlers had beach parties and drank cold barley pops, but they built warm houses to live in, but unfortunately they did not collect any food, so they also starved to death. The third batch also beach partied, but they also built warm houses and collected food for the winter. It took them three years to learn. We South Africans over 400 years still haven’t learned to build warm houses!
But on a cheery note or at least to make us feel better I was speaking to my sister who lives outside Montréal; its June there as well, summer, and it was 10˚C there as it was here!
I am just finishing reading a very good and frightening book by Frans Cronje of the Institute of Race Relations, formerly the South African Institute of Race relations, entitled “The Rise or Fall of South Africa”. This little book, a good afternoon’s read, but one which will give you enough to keep yourself and a lecture hall full of intelligent people months to think about, and never really get to a common conclusion. Sadly, it will not be read by anyone in the government of the day. For them, the position put out by Cronje, a seasoned scenario planner in the school of Clem Sunter, is just the opposite of what they have in mind; namely the total control for South African Inc.. Under an iron fisted central government under the ANC.
In essence he calls for the government to take a step on the wild side if we are to prevent the slippage of South African into a morass of hopelessness and ever rising poverty, crime, unemployment, and lower Third World status: another Zimbabwe, Venezuela failed state. In other words….in a term he does not use, a totally fucked country.
He calls for the abandonment of expropriation without compensation, as first and foremost a policy which will irrevocably stop investors from investing a single dime in SA Inc, and concomitantly prevent any hope of giving our 50% unemployed any chance of getting a job. Similarly, he advocates the abandonment of the NHI and a vigorous privation of health care with built in safeguards for those who simply cannot pay for good private health care. They are getting crap medical care at present and it would only improve with privatisation. (My suggestion here would be that all elected government officials, ministers, administrators, can stay on a government hospital system, all to themselves) Ditto the privatisation of education also with a voucher system which would be paid to parents who in turn can choose what ever school they wish with the voucher in hand, and if they wish to upgrade so they can. Privatised schools would now have to perform and teach to attract the kids they are presently failing to educate. Parents will choose because they care. Presently the “system” does not give a rat’s ass!
Cronje proposes that BEE be stopped dead at the requirement of 51% black control; the free market will rule and as the economy will grow. The appropriation of pension funds for government use must similarly be prevented. Intellectual property and patents must be respected if we are to join the world economy as a true contestant. The way the present and past ANC governments have pushed us has been, and is evermore so, on a downward trajectory from which it will be exceedingly difficult to recover. He believes that we can, but only if the government makes a radical change in the present policy direction. He is not confident that this will be the case. Very grim indeed. I believe that we must all speak out vociferously to tell our present government that the winds of change are blowing over our country.
We have had to start a serous rethink on how we plan to stage BookBedonnerd XIII, which may well be one of the only major cultural gatherings for the rest of this year, and we realize that this plague may be a blessing in a sordid disguise. We have all learned that with techno we can do just about everything from just about anywhere. Have laptop and connectivity: will travel or stay to home. Sadly, a lowly vet still has to palpate, operate, and digitate so pretty much as per normal, bar the human interaction we all love in the consulting and waiting rooms.
We are planning to hold multiple smaller gatherings spread out all over the dorp. The old library will hold smaller talks and remain BTRHQ especially when we gather for the all important afternoon wine tastings. We will just have to get used to spreading out a bit more as we all have in any case. We plan gatherings in the Richmond Hotel next door as well as MAP and other smaller venues. The afternoon wine tastings will get tongues moving, laughter and happy times once again. The old library was in recent years getting pretty full for many of our talks and lectures and we often were full to capacity. Great…. wonderful!
Now we are going to have to make a choice….if we have many smaller venues we will have many things going on at the same time …sort of a super duper whirly geg….a machine with many moving parts. Do I attend a discussion about self-publishing or a talk on the current socio-political situation in the Western Cape? Or go to a lecture on art? For our quaint little Booktown Richmond this would have been unheard of and unacceptable because everyone always wanted to go to just about every talk. This bloody Corona has forced us to change. But change and adapt we shall.
We will try to avoid obvious conflicts by staging simultaneous gatherings which are as appealing to different sectors as possible. We know our patrons, and this will be a tough call.
Any ideas and suggestions will be very gratefully received.
We have a Corona Plan which we'll share in our next newsletter.