Strong dose of levity is a healthy antidote to Manyi's conspiracies
INFAMOUS playboy Theunis Crous must wipe the dust off his drama-queen award and hand it over to cabinet spokesman Jimmy Manyi.
What a consummate drama queen our Manyi is. His penchant for hyperbole is unparalleled in South Africa.
When he is not wagging his finger at opponents and those with a different point of view to his, he is seeing evil conspiracies and censorship just about everywhere.
This time, he lashed out at e.tv for not broadcasting images of Advocate Gcina Malindi breaking down during The Spear court case involving the painting of Jacob Zuma. He argued that the channel was biased and should have shown the deep emotion The Spear has evoked.
Manyi has accused the channel of censorship. This is the problem with paranoia - it makes you believe others always have an agenda and are motivated by ulterior motives. If Manyi had just paused a bit, he would have realised that images of Malinda crying uncontrollably in court could not be shown, even if the channel had wanted to do so.
The High Court in Johannesburg had ruled that these visuals could not be broadcast and the channel had agreed to confine its coverage only to the proceedings that pertain to the case. Broadcasting the material of Malindi crying would have violated this agreement.
Furthermore, in every case in which e.tv has applied to cover court proceedings live, the footage of the late, disgraced cricketer Hansie Cronje breaking down on live TV has been used as a basis to oppose the application.
So it follows that if any broadcaster showed the Malindi footage in its bulletins, it would most certainly strengthen the case against live coverage and jeopardise all media access to court proceedings in future.
Is Manyi, supposedly a responsible civil servant, suggesting that the channel defy the court and broadcast the images just so that the world can see how hurt "the people" are over The Spear?
And did he ask Malindi whether he would appreciate being splashed on television screens bawling his eyes out?
I bet he did not. He simply took it upon himself to waste resources issuing press statements on how this matter should have been covered.
Not that the advocate has anything to be ashamed of. So what if his emotions got the better of him? Everybody hurts sometimes. I have found the reaction to this strong show of emotion quite infantile, too.
Questions have been asked about why the advocate was crying. Does he really love Zuma that much, did The Spear really offend him to that extent, is he using this as a ploy to beef up his case, was this "act" staged?
Who knows what goes on in the heart of another human being or which events take one back to past traumas.
Malindi has been described by those who work with him as "a very nice man" and a seasoned professional in his role as the president of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers.
He was also one of the brave anti-apartheid activists who were prosecuted in the Delmas treason trial under state security laws. Many who were arrested by the apartheid police were subjected to inhumane treatment, torture and ridicule. Eleven of the accused were found guilty in the same courtroom in which Mandela was found guilty in 1964. So it is quite possible that, as he stood in court this week defending a president who he believes has been wronged, his mind travelled back to those dark days and it aroused strong emotion.
South Africa is grappling with issues that could easily take it to the abyss. Although there are many signs that our democracy is maturing and we still have a chance to ameliorate the ills that plague us, there are equally worrying signs of intolerance and lawlessness. It does not help when educated, sophisticated people such as Manyi invoke politics of the gutter to argue their points. Imagining you have enemies where there are none is far more uncomfortable than actually having them.
Manyi, it is time to lighten up. There is not always a conspiracy lurking!