By: Natasha Archary
Whether you love a good conspiracy theory or not, they’re out there, floating around cyber-space waiting for unsuspecting South Africans (or citizens of the “free-world”) to eat them up with relish. Often passed off as the truth, conspiracy theories are usually what sends the country into full-on panic mode.
Over the years the most popular and disturbing conspiracy theory for South Africans involves our late former President, Nelson Mandela. The narrative, which is common knowledge to the world, is that the late statesman was admitted to hospital in June 2013. The theory is that he was by all accounts on his deathbed, but was wired, tubed and kept on life-support to ensure a smooth running election. This distasteful theory gained momentum with publications abroad but for lack of proof it deserves to be quashed as just that – a conspiracy.
Political conspiracies aside, the country has been in the spotlight for other outrageous claims as well. The Cape drought is a good example. In February 2018, Ground Up, published an article that caused many to question the drought distress campaigns altogether. “Stop the drought conspiracy theories” raises concerns over the Cape’s administration failing to plan for Day Zero.
Read the story here: Ground Up: Stop drought conspiracies
There are also eyebrow-raising, religiously unethical accusations around the issue. The theory goes that Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, turned down advice from Israel on desalination. The bottom line is that there is a huge water crisis in the Western Cape, that has been the case for the past three years. Using people’s need for a basic commodity to steer political and religious tug-of-war, is just uncalled for.
Let’s move onto a conspiracy theory so shocking, it’s bound to get you to sit down with your teenager and get real on the birds and the bees. Late last year, a study on the profile for adolescents in Soweto revealed that almost 30% of youth believe that HIV is a conspiracy theory. Orchestrated to prevent teenagers from engaging in promiscuous sexual activity. A little elaborate, considering that South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, with more than six million people infected, including two million who are youth.
Almost half of the youth who were interviewed in the study, do not know what causes HIV and more than half had never been tested.
This conspiracy theory is a huge cry for help and perhaps the information on HIV prevention has to be revised so it’s better suited to the new generation. With stats on teenage pregnancies on the rise, it’s evident that the youth are engaging in unprotected sex.
Read the full study here: Adolescents conspiracy on HIV
While we are trying to wrap our heads around some of these theories, here’s one to consider – could the listeriosis outbreak have been a diversion from the real issue at hand? A cover-up for the Guptas and the charges we are yet to call them to task for? It’s funny the timing of it all right? Cause public panic and pull the wool over our eyes at the same time. Government officials have noted that the death toll has risen to sixty one and that the outbreak is now a notifiable disease. We’re by no means laughing off the severity of this, we are however just questioning the timing of it all.
We’ve all watched the popular TV show “The Fixer”, we’ve read between the lines on news stories and reports, over-analysed the fine print and poked holes in numerous cover-ups to know a conspiracy theory when it stares us in the face. If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that nothing stays buried for long and you can be sure, there will be plenty more conspiracies keeping us up at night.