ANC supporters sing during the party's election manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 12 January 2019. Photo: GALLO IMAGES/PHIL MAGAKOE
ANC supporters sing during the party's election manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 12 January 2019. Photo: GALLO IMAGES/PHIL MAGAKOE

Election season is upon us once again. The right to vote for the government of their choice was denied to the majority of South Africans for centuries. In the quest for political freedom hundreds of disenfranchised South Africans were murdered and thousands displaced by the marauding gangs of land grabbers who came all the way from Europe and took the land through the barrel of a gun.

Fast forward to the 1960s and many leaders who were at the forefront of fighting for people to have rights in their own motherland were incarcerated, some banished and others exiled.

When democracy arrived in 1994, people rejoiced. Little did we know what this meant in broader terms. South Africans overwhelmingly elected the ANC into power. People trusted that the ANC would deliver them from bondage, and indeed it has made strides not only in improving the lives of the poor but also the lives of the rich.

That being said, there is always room for the ANC to do more and, by nature, the more one gives, the more the beneficiaries demand; hence the daily service-delivery protests in SA.

However, the route being taken by the people’s organisation needs to be put under a microscope. Revelations emerging out of the various commissions of inquiry are shocking, to say the least. How is that so many of our leaders have been implicated in activities whose main aim is to defraud the state, which is supposed to look after the poor?

How come some of our leaders are implicated in looting a bank that was an attempt by the poor to uplift their economic status? Why are state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom falling apart? SAA, Denel … you name them.

Looting, looting and looting — right through. SOE executives who are alleged to be corrupt and filling their own pockets are removed only to be replaced by others who continue to be paid exorbitant salaries. As the salaries of these “clean” executives grow by the day, so do the numbers of people getting retrenched from the parastatals, solely to save money to pay the executives higher salaries and bonuses.

Some of these executives are earning almost double what the head of state earns. If it is said that the CEOs of SAA or Eskom, for example, are earning what they do because the entity is making a profit, what profits do our parastatals make? Even if they make profits, are those profits not meant to benefit the people?

It is now clear that the reason our parliamentarians regard the call for the abolition of labour brokers as nonsense is because they benefit heavily from the system. Some have their homes fortified with security equipment, ranging from surveillance cameras to electric fencing, by the selfsame companies that tender for state contracts. 

Who could forget when one of our “leaders” said: “I did not struggle to be poor.” Another, instead of addressing the genuine concerns of the people, said: “The ANC does not care about the dirty votes.” And a third is reported to have bought a R4m house only to demolish it and build a R16m one instead. Whither SA?

This is a clarion call for our political leaders to take a conscious decision to rid themselves of all the negative elements that are doing great damage to the country’s reputation. The people love the ANC, but the ANC must stop taking for granted the people’s love.

The decision by the government to impose independent power producers (IPPs) on Eskom is going to cost the ANC dearly. If the issue of IPPs is really about clean energy, Eskom must be allowed to produce such energy for the people. South Africans be warned: in less than a decade, after the full implementation of this IPP policy, access to electricity will be for the chosen few only — those with deep pockets. Hence the haste to accumulate wealth by some.

This is a call for the ANC to take the electorate along as it moves the country forward. If the ANC proceeds with the unbundling of Eskom without taking all stakeholders along, it is going to cost the party dearly. The unemployed are growing by the millions and the majority are young people. This is a recipe for disaster.

As Vladimir Lenin said: “No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.”

The struggle continues.

• Sipunzi is general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.