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Five ‘Ws’ and an ‘H’

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Men and women will be plain to see in their camouflage by day but concealing their ranks in civilian clothing by night

Picture: Sandi Kwon Hoo

It’s the responsibility of the media to ask the right questions in order to keep the public informed of any and all developments impacting on their daily lives.

One of the methods that is used is the five “Ws” and an “H” test to make sure your line of questioning covers all angles.

Simply put, once you have established the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how” of a story, any additional information just adds context, colour and clarity.

Now that the lesson is over, let us apply what we have learned to a real-world example.

Wednesday, February 21, has been declared National Armed Forces Day and the DFA will be covering this event, every step of the way, or at least as far as we can.

Sadly, we can’t promise that we will be able to do what is expected of us and inform the public of what they need and want to know, but I promise, it won’t be from a lack of trying.

You see, the trouble is that instead of feedback on the WWWWWHs, the responses can best be described as WTF.

However, with the limited information available, allow me to do my best to answer the six simple questions that answer almost everything.

Who

The invite says that the commander-in-chief will dish out some medals but less than 24 hours ago the guest of honour was a title, not a person. No prizes for guessing who is going to exchange the festivities for a quiet cold one next to the firepool.

What

This is another tricky one to answer but I can assure you that we will have brown trucks and curious cars as far as the eye can see.

Men and women will be plain to see in their camouflage by day but concealing their ranks in civilian clothing by night.

Like Sona, Armed Forces Day is an occasion for SA to show off our military.

When

This one is a little easier to answer, if you don’t mind a little guesswork. This event has started, I think. The highlight is the parade and medal ceremony, next Wednesday, apparently.

Fun and games follow this weekend and the public will be able to get up close and personal with some formidable hardware but don’t get excited to avoid disappointment. If the “schedule” runs as smoothly as the preparations, being at the right place at the right time could be like winning the lottery.

Where

By the sound of things, the celebrations are going to be everywhere and incredibly hard to miss. However, this is not a good thing. While the public has been urged to attend and join the celebrations, doing so is likely to have you jumping through hoops, wrapped up in red tape and ordered from pillar to post by someone who is mandated to let the public feel served and safe but first needs to establish what that means.

Why

We have guns and weapons that we pay for but may not touch. These weapons are purchased with the intent that they never be used.

The money that goes into defence goes directly towards the worst elements of our society, the type who really need to sample their own product, while the guy with access to the control panel is usually the one we need protection from.

Why do we need to see the full extent of our military might? Well, we are the ones paying for it.

How

In all honesty, I don’t know how. I can’t understand how our armed forces think they can protect us when they can’t give a straight answer on what’s happening. I can’t see how they expect to maintain safety and security of dignitaries and the public at large, when they cannot tell media when and where they need to register to cover the event.

The organisation of this event has been absolutely appalling and I’m sorry to say it but if you cannot accommodate organisations who share your vision of making South Africa better, how are you ever going to defend anyone from their enemies?