So, Ace Magashule gets away with it again, at least for now. But we shouldn’t hold our breath because this seems like it will be a very long “for now” that, if ever nipped in the bud, it will not be stopped by anyone in the leadership of the governing African National Congress or its member base.
If so, who would? Who has the ethical wherewithal and the courage to stand on a moral high ground to tell a powerful, crime implicated, party Secretary-General that he is so wrong in so many ways? Else, they would have stopped a lot of similar bad and unguided conduct by many in the party’s leadership ranks in recent years.
It is now too late; the cancer has metastacised and the abnormal has been turned into the new normal. Even the so-called and much anticipated “New Dawn” has turned out to be a blinding mirage.
South African politicians, unaccountable
The rest of us are left second guessing the anticipated actions that will be taken by a president under siege and who will remain under siege if his party gets strengthened for it, not him, will claim any electoral strengthening as an approval rate and an endorsement that the majority of the people of South Africa are quite satisfied with its leadership. Strengthened, the party would tell us that only a small minority of disgruntled voters would have expressed dissatisfaction while the majority gave it the license to keep on going on.
The sad part of it all is that in the absence of the kind of leaders who are aware of the impact of their own conduct on the people around them, especially the younger, aspirant, leaders, it will become increasingly hard to return to the basics.
The bad conduct of people like Magashule and several of his comrades, some of it still to be tested in our courts by the criminal justice system when the NPA eventually gets to it, gets defended and repeated even by the people they should be training and mentoring for future leadership roles in their party and, possibly, in various levels of government.
Instead, young leaders prepare to become future rent seekers our beleaguered country will have to do with if the coming elections fail to produce the needed change in political power balance.
The levels of desperation to access high office in order to control public resources are scary. If not desperation, what else explains the violence through which many have lost their lives in the hands of fellow comrades in competition for the same positions?
Technicalities fail us
Values-driven conduct and leadership by politicians has been replaced by a culture of defending the indefensible on the basis of technicalities. For them, if it doesn’t seem to be against the law it is fine to go ahead and do, or to justify doing. Many criminals continue to walk the streets and the corridors of power because they’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. Things have to be able to be proven wrong in a court of law for them to be avoided.
In these times of austerity, and despite the high and growing levels of poverty, unemployment and ever increasing costs of living, as well as a tax base that continues to be eroded, politicians see nothing wrong with allocating hundreds of millions of rands of public resources to feather their own nests and to fund their already comfortable lifestyles.
They forever purchase expensive cars for themselves, spend public funds needed in communities around the country on expensive refurbishments of their private and official residents, on local and overseas travel, including car rental, exclusive hotel stays and S&T with gay abandon.
While the residents of Alexanda, Lwandle, Mamelodi, Grassy Park, Retreat, Langa, Soshanguve, Zwelihle, Philippi, Delft, and many other impoverished townships around the country can wait or, if lucky, hope to be visited by a senior politician who’d offer them R400 to buy some food, but only if there are media cameras present and after dramatically checking their perennially empty fridges, as if on cue, the millions in public funds will continue to lavish the A-Class lifestyles of the men and women in politics.
Those who drove, enabled, and benefitted from state capture and other forms of corruption were smart. They ensured that the criminal justice system was infested with the same cancer that has been eating our institutions and rendered disabled, at least the upstream parts of it in the form of SAPS, Hawks, and the NPA.
All indications are that it will take time to remove the cancerous people and replace them with new ones who wouldn’t have to be constantly looking over their shoulders before they do what is right and who wouldn’t be taking orders from corrupt, criminally implicated politicians. Sadly, it is unclear where such people can be found in the time needed for them to rid South Africa of the cancer.
No respect for the elders
ANC veterans, also referred to as the elders, can cajole all they want, no one seems to take them seriously. They’re only needed ahead of important elections, when their individual and collective conscience gets tested and they’re given a choice between party and country. So far, they have chosen party, albeit with feigned hesitation. It seems unlikely that we shall see any of them acting on their disgust, assuming that such disgust is real.
What we have seen are the same elders going in front of media cameras to express anger and disgust but returning to give more power to the same people they tell us they’re not happy with. For them, the gulf between the party they grew up in and the country many of them lost loved ones and comrades over, remains too huge to bridge. One wonders why they gave up so much of their youth if they can no longer stand up to meaningfully defend their gains, a free, democratic South Africa. It seems like the gulf that stands between where they stand, on the party’s side, and the interests of all South Africans, remains too big to bridge.
Until all of us, South Africans, agree that no political formation is more important than the interests of our country and that the things that bring us together should be held higher than those that seek to keep us apart, our march to real, shared, freedom will remain a long one indeed. But the power is in our hands.