United the ANC stands, or does it?

08 April 2012 - 02:16 By Ben Trovato
Ben Trovato
Ben Trovato
Image: Sunday Times

When a big HOWEVER blurs the information in the media

We live in deeply confusing times and many of us turn to the media for answers. I am not talking about myself. When I want answers, I turn to the bottle. You would be amazed at what secrets and solutions lie in a half-jack of Klipdrift. Of course, if it's meaning-of-life stuff you're after, you'll probably need the full 750ml.

But if you simply want to know the cricket score or where Julius Malema currently stands in the inexplicably convoluted labyrinth that is the ANC's disciplinary process, then the media is your best bet.

However, and this is a big however ... If I had my way, this entire space would be taken up with the word HOWEVER. This would not only mean that I had finished my work for the day, but it is also a word that South Africans would do well to be reminded of.

It implies that there are two sides to every story. Well, not in the case of my murdered Hyundai, naturally. The garage and I disagree on the interpretation of the word "negligence", and all parties are lawyering up as we speak. A supakak situation all round.

However. Returning to the media as a cheap, yet relatively reliable oracle that one can consult, then feed one's dog upon. Don't try this if you get your news off the TV.

The importance of relying on more than one source to stay informed was never more fittingly illustrated than it was this past Wednesday. Following Tuesday's press conference by the ANC's top brass, most daily newspapers had the story as their front-page lead.

Here's The Mercury: "ANC's sham show of unity".

And here's The New Age: "ANC's strong show of unity".

See what I mean? After reading both versions of the same event, one would invariably be in a stronger position to make an informed choice. Brandy or whisky. London or Perth. Razor blade or revolver.

I may be mistaken, but it seems The New Age is showing signs of lurching towards the treacherous quagmire that shields, yet simultaneously imperils, the ravening beast that is African nationalism.

For a start, their masthead positively ululates with the colours of the national flag. While waiting to pay for my copy, I unconsciously whistled the opening bars of the national anthem. The woman standing behind me burst into tears. She said her son died fighting the terrorists on the border, as if I had done it. Maybe I did. I wasn't a very good shot in those days.

The outrageous suggestion that this newspaper is one gum-guard short of a mouthpiece could, in some cynical quarters, be substantiated by their editorial of the same day. Taking a swing at big business in the wake of Nedbank chairman Reuel Khoza's unpatriotic criticism of those clawing at the wheel of the good ship RSA, the editorial concluded: "There might be corruption, but at least this government has put the country on the right track, which is one of development."

Double or quits it is, then. I'll see your tenderpreneur and raise you a squatter camp.