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Families are still picking at the leftovers of the festive season; the country has yet to digest the matric results; parents are counting what’s left of the Christmas bonus to buy school uniforms; and politicians are already knocking at the door, asking for our votes.

That, in a nutshell, may explain our problem. Politics always takes precedence over everything else. The political season starts early in the year, thanks to the ANC’s much-vaunted January 8 statement. And of course there’s an election, and by some people’s reckoning, it could be a make-or-break year. The elections could clarify a few imponderables.

Will Cyril Ramaphosa stem the haemorrhage and lead the ANC to a resounding victory? Will Ramaphosa finally grow a pair? Will the EFF eat the ANC’s lunch? What of the DA, which has often flattered to deceive? Will it finally make an impact outside its Western Cape stronghold? Cyril Ramaphosa neutralises Jacob Zuma’s KZN cabal And many little parties have suddenly sprouted to cash in on the elections. The common denominator of these little parties (it’s being generous to even call them parties) is that they are being formed by individuals who are unemployed, or have no discernible source of income. They have surmised, correctly, that there is a significant chunk of the electorate foolish enough to send them to parliament, and thus guarantee them an income. But then George Bernard Shaw, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, described democracy as “a government of the fools, for the fools, by the fools”. It’s an exaggeration, of course, but there’s a kernel of truth in that. Improving ordinary ...

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