2010 rights watch – Fifa restricting civil rights

Fifa Stadium restricts civil rights
Fifa Stadium restricts civil rights

A DRACONIAN Cape Town City Bylaw could outlaw indoor gatherings of more than 50 people where microphones, Ipods, and and ghetto blasters are used and if the result is amplified sound , even if the event happens in the comfort of your living room, consider it an offence without a license.

The proposed new bylaw is intended to force events organisers to apply for licenses to host “musicians, poets and entertainers”, while regulating an environment in which businesss-in-exchange-for-favours is the order of the day. The City plans to clean-up the boho inner city strip of Long Street and other entertainment areas, forcing promoters of “educational, cultural and religious events” to give-up a percentage of their takings in exchange for mutually beneficial “partnerships”, and the bylaw has thus set in motion a regulatory mechanism intended to create a “return on investment” from both public and private facilities, and covers outdoor and indoor events of every description in Cape Town.

Notwithstanding how one may feel about charitable and community events suddenly being regulated by the City gestapo as we approach 2010, but how does City intend to regulate a community in which many such gatherings are of a political nature? In fact there is a sizeable majority who see fighing for ones right to party (along with a bit of the herb) as the party of choice where freedom is concerned, and while there is some merit to regulating amplified sound (in terms of decibels), regulating open gatherings simply because amplification is used is surely invalid and unlawful criteria in determining the extent of the City’s mandate or ability to apply the bylaw.

For instance, how many indoor meetings of more than 50 people have I attended at Community House, in which sound is amplified, and the resulting audio mix, something better left to the creative commons, i.e. not expressly political in nature? Surely an indoor gathering of a church, school or community theatre group should not have to apply for a license? Our freedom conscious constitution is written so as to make this kind of oppression — once characterised by the apartheid state — impossible, but no, it has gotten to the point where where freedom means nothing, freedom of association and freedom of speech — regardless of whether one takes a donation, passes a hat around, or conceives of indoor meetings where amplification is used, all this riotous behaviour is now taboo unless governed by City decree and under scrutiny of a new special events constabulary.

Capetonians have long taken their freedom for granted. but now even the smallest kareoke group with a ghetto blaster will have to apply for a licence if they get a 50-plus audience. Caught with microphone in hand, and carrying an IPOD, one could quickly find oneself on the wrong side of the dancefloor, at an illegal gathering, and enjoying all the ambience that made the eighties such a great decade in terms of rebellion. Don’t you just love the smell of teargas at 3am in the morning?

Meanwhile a local community newspaper has reported on the Cities attempts to outlaw the use of “objectionable speech” within 500 metres of a certain FIFA Soccer Stadium as part of increasingly repressive and draconian legislation to combat the use of the typical Cape Town epithet – “Jou Ma se…” which BTW is intended to rhyme and subvert the entitlement of the apartheid era and its “Master -Servant ordinances.

Download the bylaw for comment available from http://capetown.gov.za

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