Has the party you voted for in 1994 started taking you for granted? When was the last time your premier wrote you a love letter or ate strawberries out of your navel? Got an urge to slip something into the ballot box, but just can’t seem to maintain an election? Would you get back together with your ex for one more X? Would you cross the floor — on all fours? Just SMS “ANC” to 31186, and we’ll send you all the sizzling, gasping, grasping, heaving, sweating party news you can handle. Do it now — Madam “Order!” Speaker and the Chief Whip are waiting. They’ll slip off the Freedom Garter and put the “man” back in manifesto. Copulation towards liberation! A better lay for all!
At least, that’s what the African National Congress’s advertisement in The Star on Tuesday seemed to imply at first glance. Somewhere there must be a five-digit number that, when SMSed, doesn’t send one pornography or a cartoon of a flatulent chimp. But e.tv’s long-running campaign of sleaze has numbed one to this possibility. The ANC, it seemed, had launched a polit-porn service.
The truth was tamer, but somehow no less unsettling. Indeed, the motives behind a ruling party launching an SMS news service (for that was what the advertisement was announcing) are as palpably obvious, as squirmingly transparent, as any Swedish skin flick.
These more sinister aspects are overshadowed by far more practical problems, though. What sort of news will be available? What language will it be in? And exactly how out of touch do you have to be to believe that your poverty-stricken electorate will cough up R1 per SMS, when you usually have to offer them natty little baseball caps and T-shirts made in Chinese sweatshops just to get them to turn up at all?
No doubt there will be some fraught evenings and dozens of snapped pipe stems in the presidential study as Mr Mbeki tries to reduce his 10 000-character missives to 250, and certainly SMS lingo, and the strategic insertion of emoticons, will add a cavalier new tone to parliamentary handbag swinging:
ANC sez Mango U R 3RD R8 >:-(
ANC sez DA R skrwd 🙂
But questions remain. For instance, are the country’s cellphone providers up to the task of communicating national policy? After all, it would be a terrible pity to be halfway through signing a 99-year lease just as the network goes down: “ANC latest: The NEC has made an executive decision involving its HIV policy, the acquisition of French nuclear weapons, the future of Comrade Zuma, and the fate of the white minority. It has decided that, in 10 from now, the Ministry of Defence will MESSAGE ENDS NETWORK ERROR.”
LOL? IMHO, no. 🙁