Gangsters lick their lips at thought of mass of muggable Olympic visitors
I WONDER if the people who finally decide whether we are fit to host the 2004 Olympic Games will take note of the support the city's bid is receiving from the local gangster community.
Aware that one of the principal objections to Cape Town as a venue is the high level of crime, Rashied Staggie, head of the Hard Livings gang, has declared that the Olympics will be good for the country because it will create jobs. It will also bring in a lot of wealthy, muggable tourists for a six-week period, but perhaps I am too cynical.
Staggie has brought other gang leaders together to promote a peace initiative through an organisation called Community Outreach Forum (CORE). Yes, I too have been trying to work out how you can get the acronym CORE from that, and have come to the conclusion that Staggie either didn't much like the acronym CORF or he has deliberately used a redundant E to demonstrate how badly the education system let him down during the dark days of apartheid, which is why he had to turn to crime in the first place.
In an extraordinary statement, CORE has pledged to reduce crime levels and improve Cape Town's image. I suppose that if you view crime as just another service industry then it is quite obvious that one would need to have business plans and strategies for growth.
Diversification is obviously the name of the game in the cut-throat world of gangsterism with its varied product range which includes child prostitution, murder, gun-running, robbery, rape and drug-dealing. What CORE seems to be suggesting is that it will wind down some of the less profitable violent operations if it is allowed to grow the lucrative drug division unhindered. Sounds like good business sense.
Now that the novelty of appearing on TV has finally worn off, what, one wonders, must we do to encourage MPs to actually turn up at the debating chamber in return for their salaries.
Even the cabinet is finding it difficult to get itself together - a discussion on the defence review had to be postponed recently because the president was in Gauteng and the deputy president was on a "working holiday", a political euphemism which means that you and I are probably picking up his bar bills. Attendance is so low in the House of Assembly that pretty soon poor Frene Ginwala will be sitting there talking to herself. Both the Democratic Party and the Nats have complained that question time has become a farce because ministers are rarely there to present an answer.
THE reasons for the lack of enthusiasm on the part of those who haven't yet managed to escape to the private sector or emigrate to Sweden isn't difficult to understand. Parliamentary proceedings are notoriously dull and, unless they are trying to catch up on some sleep between committee sessions, most politicians would understandably prefer to do something else with their time. Short of introducing a competition for the best ethnically dressed politician or serving hot food and drink during debates, there is probably very little we can do to encourage a full National Assembly.
Parliamentary questions may not be an absolute guarantee of government accountability, but they certainly keep ministers on their toes. In the UK, for example, prime minister's question time was held for 15 minutes twice a week.
THE real purpose of the session was to put the prime minister of the day under intense pressure by asking him surprise questions to which he probably wouldn't be able to respond confidently. The aim was not really to get answers to questions, but to humiliate the government in front of the television cameras. Tony Blair has changed the system and now holds a 30-minute session once a week. He also likes to be advised of the questions in advance. So far, question time has been little more than an opportunity for politically ambitious Labour backbenchers to lick the boots of their leader.
By not bothering to turn up to answer parliamentary questions, the ANC is effectively muzzling its political opposition. If politicians are reluctant to answer questions in the House of Assembly, I suggest that the law be amended to afford the equivalent of parliamentary privilege to the media. That ought to liven politics up a bit.