Monday, October 20, 2008

Laying Hansie To Rest

I'm one of those "big picture" types - when I watch a movie, I try to pull out the bigger threads, rather than getting worked up by small details. When I go to the cinema to watch a movie like "Hansie", my nature is to ask the big questions. Why did they make the movie? Was there going to be enough material in Hansie's life to write a script that worked? Should we be revisiting Hansie's life anyway?

While I felt there was an intention to weave good messages through the plot, my overall impression was that the film served more as an obituary for a character who was undoubtedly loved. I was hoping that the movie would also capture some of that passion we've all had for South African sport, and from a sporting point of view, I thought they captured the pain of that 99 semi-final loss reasonably well. The movie was technically reasonably well done, although I feel that the story was not crafted well enough to draw in an audience beyond those who did know Hansie's story already.

Back to the bigger picture. I feel there are two points relevant from the movie. The question was asked: should Hansie's name be removed from the Greys College honours boards? My thought was: leave it there to serve as a reminder that we can all fall. Many of us have done worse than take money from bookies, and yet our positions have not been exposed to the national media. All of us have fallen in some way at least, and while I am not suggesting we turn a blind eye to the failures of our leaders, I do suggest that each of us take a view of our own lives and ask whether our own books would balance if we were held up to the same public light.

The second thread of interest regards the challenge of being at the top. So much is made of being in the spotlight, being the captain, being the hero, being the president of a country. In truth, when you get to that level, you're exposed to a whole set of pressures, challenges and disappointments you hadn't anticipated. What keeps you grounded? What prevents you from falling prey to the temptations of riches, women and power? And just as importantly, what unswaying standard can you measure yourself against so you stay oriented?

It's interesting to note that Hansie was a Christian, and we have to ask: how could a Christian do such things? The answer is simple: God's Word has no value until you apply it. While a Christian still walks under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, God does not remove our freedom of choice and we can still choose to sin if we wish.

It is for this reason that the ACDP holds up the Bible as the answer for this country. As in Hansie's case, simply being a Christian does not necessarily imply that you will provide good governance or good direction for a country. It is only in the application of God's principles that we will see this country come right. For those of you who support Christians working in other parties like the DA or ANC, ask yourself whether their Christian influence will actually translate into the application of Christian principles rather than simple verbal adherence.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is an ANC Split Good News?

Undoubtedly it's fascinating to watch the South African political soap opera right now. Certainly the shake up has been the fresh ingredient that we've needed for some years, even if it serves to give the public a fresh view on where we are as a country and where we need to be.

In my opinion, the ANC's troubles are simple: their 1994 promises were extravagant and misleading, suggesting a kind of growth that was never going to be possible, let alone using the flawed socialist tactics employed. The ANC now walks under that repercussion, and not only them but every other scapegoat available, whether foreigners or sporting emblems. That a party that seemed so strong in one moment could be so fiercely divided is a remarkable turn of events.

Without much thinking, it would seem that both South Africa and the ACDP would welcome a split. The reasons are numerous. First of all, it would break some of the ANC's momentum in building one-party government. Despite their "consultation" propaganda, the experience of ACDP councillors, MP's and MPL's is that the ANC steamrolls legislation through the various councils and blissfully ignores the comments and contributions of the other parties. Without their two-thirds majority, the ANC would have to engage in an unprecedented amount of dialogue, consultation and compromise with the other parties, leading to more balanced legislation that does indeed reflect the country's views more accurately (which it certainly doesn't now). Voters who had normally marked an ANC box without thought may now have to pay more attention to what their party stands for.

A split would have huge ramifications for the ANC's once stable financial base. My suspicion is that many of the "old school" BEE benefactors would stick with the "old school", namely Mbeki and his cohorts. This wouldn't solve the ACDP's constant quest for investment, but it might limit the ANC's ability to churn out large events with t-shirts for everyone.

That is only half the story. How will the ANC handle this kind of conflict? Will we see unprecedented hostility in parliament, such as that being seen in Zimbabwe? How far away could we be from seeing Malema's words put to work? In fact, if you think the ANC has a problem with slow delivery now, imagine if they have to turn their attention to actually compete for an election. As an example, the US elections steal huge amounts of time, investment and effort from actually getting the job done. In some senses the ACDP would rather that the ANC falls asleep at election time.

Of interest in the ANC's disquiet is a possible return to a sense of tribalism, something that they seemed to have steered clear of for so long. Perhaps the ACDP's multiracial support and leadership will stand out more clearly if the ANC walks down this road?

I must admit that a possible split does not cast fear into me. Our democracy is some 14 years old, and the fact the ANC has been willing to induct change is good news (think Mugabe). While attention-seekers like Malema can make disturbing comments, perhaps our structures are strong enough for now to withstand that kind of flexing. At this point I do hope the split goes ahead, but as ever, let's keep our eyes open and watch the signs.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blue Movies: Your Voice Can Make a Difference

If you've got any sense of morality, your nose will be turned at the sight of stores like Adult World and Hustler, where adult material is flogged to the public. I was almost equally dissatisfied at the display of blue movies in the local video shop I frequent. They were originally displayed along the top shelf, but later stacked up on a shelf in the corner where they would be less obvious to the casual customer.

I developed a good friendship with the video shop owner, and one day got around to casually mentioning my displeasure at the availability of these DVD's. I had assumed shops like these kept them because they represented valuable income. I was wrong. It turns out some customers would walk in demanding hot movie action and the female staff did not have the physical presence or courage to resist that kind of intimidation.

A month later I was back at the shop and the owner proudly pointed out to me that the movies were gone - my mild objection had paid dividends. It's not the first time I've had success after complaining about unsuitable material, as my Mr Price experience points out, and it won't be the last. I guess some people get action by storming in and demanding an instant response, but I had just as much success by being respectful and coming across as a level-headed individual with family interests at heart, rather than a right-wing fundamentalist (which I probably am anyway).

Obviously there's been a lot of research done on the repercussions of watching adult material through videos and computer games, and I don't have much in the way of stats to offer from these findings. I can say though that it doesn't take much common sense to realise that watching blue movies does lend itself to taking another step. Visual material is a yard away from physical interaction, leading to affairs in marriage or pre-marital trouble for bachelors (attached with unexpected children). We talk glibly about family values in the Christian world and in the ACDP, but we do so because the Biblical pattern for relationships is full-stop better than what's out there at the moment. If you disagree, let's talk.

DISCLAIMER: This blog serves as a commentary and the views presented are not necessary the official views of the ACDP. For official statements and contact details, visit: