Last week’s TV interview between DA interim leader John Steenhuisen and SABC anchor Flo Letoaba gave us our very own home-grown, bad-tempered White House press briefing moment.
All went swimmingly for Steenhuisen for about five seconds. He opened with an attack on the "irrational rules" that had no impact on fighting the virus and the night-time "military curfew", and followed that up with a rant about e-commerce and the 6am-9am exercise window, which, for Capetonians anyway, means spending at least one of those hours in predawn darkness. Sob.
Steenhuisen was guided, he said somewhat unwisely, by his "conversations with South Africans" on social media. You don’t have to be schooled in naval gunnery to know that that torpedo would turn back and sink you instead.
Letoaba, not unreasonably, wanted to know which South Africans were "fed up" with the lack of information emanating from the national command council.
Steenhuisen, struggling to hide his irritation, asked if she’d like a list.
From that point, the interview was just another tawdry episode of cheap-shot politicking and unprofessional journalism as the DA leader and the TV anchor shouted over each other until the Trumpian finish as Steenhuisen suggested that President Cyril Ramaphosa must be glad to have Letoaba in his corner.
And so "which South Africans" went viral — just like a pandemic — and that glorious rah-rah, we’re all in this together, spirit of the Blitz euphoria blew out through the hole in the bag like so much hot air as social media discord escaped from its lab and South Africans reverted to their usual pre-coronavirus polarised state.
The virus laughed to see such fun. And the dish ran away with the spoon.