LEBOGANG MOKOENA: A political sequel with the same ending
In about one year from now, SA will head to the polls to choose our local government leaders, and the prospect of choosing anyone at this point isn’t exactly compelling
They are coming. Soon, they will be all over our roads, our televisions and on the radio. They will walk into our homes and our places of work. They’ll even call on us to share their regurgitated doctrine. They will kiss babies, hug the elderly, sell hope to the youth and promise better. They will point to the few homes they’ve built, here or there, and remind us of how far others have steered from Madiba’s vision.
In an uncharacteristic surge of energy, they will clean fields, unblock pipes, plant trees and even ride on public transport with us. They will pose for selfies, put on their best show of caring (in front of the cameras) and walk the streets. Then they’ll drive into the sunset, to a soundtrack of sirens and ahead of a blinding array of blue lights.
They will visit hospital and stadiums, they’ll give us free T-shirts and cold chicken. They’ll give food parcels to our grandmothers and wish us a merry festive season.
They’ll rehash old manifestos on expensive paper, compose catchy new songs and pay popular artists many months’ salary to sing at their events.
They’ll promise growth, a stable currency and jobs for all. The Gigabas, the Dlaminis and Gumedes will lead the rallies, so the masses can hear the easy and popular answers, and forget all about the broken promises.
They’ll wear red, blue, some green and a generous dousing of yellow. And they’ll promise the world to as many people who’ll listen.
But don’t be fooled. It’s all an act you’ve seen before. And you know how it ends.
In about one year from now, SA will head to the polls to choose our local government leaders, and the prospect of choosing anyone at this point isn’t exactly compelling.
The ANC is in disarray. The governing party is neck-deep in scandals of tender profiteering and a slew of mistakes made in its bid to fight Covid-19. Clearly, this wasn’t trouble enough, because the party this week redeployed Zandile Gumede to the people of KwaZulu-Natal.
For those who don’t know Gumede, she was last year criminally charged with influencing a R208m waste tender in 2016. She was asked to vacate her seat as eThekwini mayor and arrested, and is now out on R50,000 bail.
At the time of her arrest, her staunchest supporters said she would emerge victorious. It’s a dismal reflection on the party that during a pandemic, and after pledges of a “cleaner government” and multimillion-rand tender irregularities, Gumede is back.
The reason given by KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala for her return was that her exclusion from ANC structures created an unhealthy situation. “She is the councillor, having been the mayor, and you got now a new mayor and that creates a situation which is unhealthy,” said Zikalala.
He said the ANC “needs to be stabilised”.
It’s the thinnest, weakest excuse you could imagine. If the exclusion of people who have done wrong creates an “unhealthy situation” in our government, we might as well stop now, and disband every directive designed to address ills in the executive.
Just imagine just how “unhealthy” it would be if everything said at the Zondo commission was acted upon and people held accountable. No wonder we’ve had such lethargy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently wrote a letter to the ANC saying Covid-19 corruption was a cause for shame. Yet, he didn’t include the years of looting, state-owned companies run into the ground, unemployment north of 30% and the loss in confidence in our government in that assessment.
So, when we line up next year to vote, we should remember how everyone said that unless something drastic is done, the future is bleak. And we should remember that the government had the chance to act.
Clearly something has to give, or it will end in tears — for all of us.
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