/ 21 January 2016

Oscars for outstanding corruption

A dazzling appearance by the stars of South Africa's politics.
The rhetoric of ‘radical economic transformation’ under Jacob Zuma’s rule masked the reality of a parasitic shadow state that captured state institutions to establish a power elite. (Mujahid Safodien)


A stunning midsummer’s eve at the Union Buildings. The stars arriving. The poor lining the streets.

Here comes the president. Confident. Majestic. Nominated for his role in Nenegate: The Terrible Mistake. The movie expected to rake in the awards.

The president pausing now. He turns around and, yes, there she is! Dudu Myeni steps on to the red carpet. Ravishing. Captivating. Dudu nominated for best supporting role for her part in Nenegate.

South Africa’s poor getting restless now. They wave or beg.

And, yes, as expected, a taxpayer has broken the perimeter. A large weapon in his hands. He’s running towards the president now. Security has him. They’re pinning him down. Dragging him off the red carpet now.

Myeni side by side with the president now. The power couple strolling along the carpet; the poor showering them with insults. Fairy-tale scenes at the Union Buildings – a glorious celebration, as always, well attended.

More stars arriving now. Des van Rooyen making his way down the carpet. The actor formerly known as David out of his depth this evening, nominated for the poorly constructed biopic A Weekend with Des. Des inviting fellow stars for a weekend at his house. Marius Fransman grabs an invite. Atul Gupta shows interest. Should be a roaring event. A night to remember.

A loud noise, and, yes, someone has arrived with a bang. A cloud of smoke. Former president Thabo Mbeki emerging. The undisputed master of sequels, nominated tonight for Letters, More Letters and Too Many Letters – a trilogy meticulously written, produced and directed by the little maestro himself.

More commotion and, wait, yes, there it is, Mbeki tries to emerge from another puff of smoke. He has set himself on fire. Burning in a magnificent ball of fire now.

The fire department arriving. And, yes, as expected, the poor questioning why they’re there so quickly. The poor being sprayed with water now. A violent torrent of water pushing them back.

Excitement builds as the esteemed guests of honour, the Academy itself, arrive accompanied, as always, by oxygen tanks and life support.

The Academy stepping on to the carpet now. The Caucasian men, breathing heavily, moving down the carpet. Don’t they look stately?

The Academy, of course, celebrated tonight with a lifetime achievement award. The United States Oscars this year, as always, white as snow. Haven’t they done well? Haven’t they achieved so much?

The stars shaking hands now. They turn – their backs to the poor – and, yes, there it is, a graceful bow for the annual moon to the poor. What a moment. What a tradition.

The poor dispersing now. Slowly, carefully. The stars moving forward, fully clothed again, entering the auditorium. The fire department helping the poor along. The stars safely inside now. The doors close.

We’re ready to begin.

Hansie Smit is a freelance journalist