Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS

Observe the clear signs that things are not well

By Alex Tabisher Time of article published Apr 1, 2021

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My readers would have noticed that, lately, I contrive my column around a central word. This week’s word is “sign”.

The word sign is used by semiologists to explain the concretisation of meaning through a signal. We observe signification through the seven holes in our heads and display levels of cognitive and physical dexterity as intelligent response.

The word “sign” features on many levels, but my concern for where our country is at focuses on signs as indications, warnings, portents, prognostications, predictions, omens, soothsaying and other indicators, that all is not well in the state of Denmark.

The dominant social phenomenon worldwide is the Covid pandemic. Epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Professor Salim Abdool Karim is stepping down from leading our efforts to address this killer among us. We see that the Prez has declared open warfare on Magashule whom he sees as a threat to his Presidency. The belligerent Zuma continues to show the country and general decency the middle finger.

Blade Nzimande has been taken to task for calling the demand from students for free education a “soap opera”. He started the rot himself. Then the venerated Tito told the Zondo Commission, during a news conference, that they must get done and cannot expect extra funds to prolong their deliberations and opinion-gathering. Add to that the beleaguered National Prosecuting Authority head and the complexity of her task, especially with Zuma rejecting the legality of the Constitutional Court.

The brilliant song Starry starry Nights by Don McLean warns us: They did not listen; they’re not listening still. Perhaps they never will.

The times have changed. The finger has written the sentence on the wall: Mene mene tekel upharsin. You have been weighed and found wanting. Omar Khayyam warned: The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

I am speaking to our people, of whatever racial, faith or cultural persuasion, to observe the clear signs that things are not well. The signs are clear. The signification is universally applicable.

What to do? Accept that we need a good government. Reconfigure the assumption that the horse-trading for a new constitution was a farce of double-dealing, sunset and shadow clauses and a compromise which justifies one’s feeling that the achievement of a government of National Unity was just another form of colonialism.

Let the ANC rule forever if it wishes but let it insist that MPs serve their voters first and then the party, not the other way around. Go back to basics. There are no free lunches. There are too many mendicants who falsely exploit social aid. Too many parents and others in authority have abdicated their God-given powers. We have lost our religions.

We need a revamp, a restructuring, a national indaba that includes input from all – and I mean ALL citizens – those who pay massive taxes for protection of assets, those who start up small businesses to relieve the government from the maintenance burden.

Rejuvenate education by increasing teacher salaries by 10%, with immediate effect, to absorb the loss of drive through maladministration. They are also front-line candidates for respect and vaccination. My appeal covers more areas that can be addressed to recover outstanding debts, individual, corporate, municipal, provincial and ultimately, national. Shrink bloated salaries and make “bang for buck” mandatory.

But I have stayed too long at the fair. Take up the torch and follow the start of a new race that includes every resonance in that word.

* Literally Yours is a weekly column from Cape Argus reader Alex Tabisher. He can be contacted on email by [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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