After my tweets on Monday complaining about the Cape Time’s lack of health care coverage, the newspaper hauled out its “veteran journalist and political commentator” Alister Sparks to deliver yet another stail op-ed piece (31-03-2010). This time an incoherent comparison between Obama and Zuma. This blog made exactly the same comparison when Obama assumed office last year, so the subject is by no means innovative. The need to compare South Africa’s political malaise with the ascendancy of the American civil rights movement may be an important topic deserving of editorial, but it is not a platform for conservative bluster.
In Wednesday’s paper he writes: “We need to have free trade zones where all but the basic labour regulations are suspended to encourage business to set up operations in the country’s most economically depressed areas.” Is this man living and writing in the 21st Century? Is this the kind of editorial deserving of a newspaper which conceivably would also be in favour of human rights and the introduction of legislation outlawing human trafficking? Sparks seem unable to frame the health care debate in anything other than neoconservative cant and “too big to fail” — the idea that corporate capitalism will always be bailed out, whatever the cost to the taxpayer.
That any commentator should be able to write about the suspension of civil liberties in this country as an economic necessity, and free trade in terms of human greed as a motivating factor for life (SA has an egregious past as far as civil liberties and labour rights are concerned) and all in the context of health care, is surely evidence of senility?
Letting Sparks do so with his lackadaisical and humdrum journalese is a befuddled and gerontocratic blunder which merely plays into the hands of ANC/SACP Stalinists, while allowing the Cape Times to sink ever deeper beneath a conservative puddle. Where is a comparison between socialism and liberal democracy? Where is recognition that much of the anti-Obama rhetoric has come from those who like to paint the USA first black president as a communist and health-care for all as some kind of nonsensical and impossibly Utopian ideal?
The once liberal English newspaper has certainly turned into a hotbed of right-wing tinkering behind the current left-vs-right polarisation in this country.
An ineffectual media created by a bankrupt parent company — condoned by the kind of spread-betting which brought down the international banking system, and encouraging the erosion of labour rights. Sparks is nowhere close to being progressive or even liberal for that matter.
No Mr Sparks, your views no longer represent anything but the tobacco filled parlours of exclusive gentlemen’s clubs — the colonial gaze of the past. It is time for you to retire from public life and to go the way of Karl Rove and other Bush cabinet men who now sell their autobiographies to curiosity shops alongside paraphernalia from discarded fascist regimes.