Can SA Trust This Man?

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Election season is upon us once again and the usual suspects will be at work again with their usual tactics to canvass for your precious vote. The significance of this particular poll in 2014 is that it marks 20 years of political freedom for the black majority; thanks to the valiant and magnanimous acts of our founding fathers who braved the turbulent and violent apartheid era. A debt of gratitude is owed to many unsung heroes of the struggle with some of them paying the ultimate price and having to be buried in foreign lands, one can only hope that the government will do the right thing and bring their remains home. With elections comes reflection and introspection, asking the hard questions about those we give the mandate to lead us for the next tenure.  Have the current office bearers done what we asked of them? Do they deserve another shot; and if not who can best serve us and how are they any different from the current lot?

Basic politics tells us that those who exercise power and authority in society have the legitimacy to make authoritative decisions for society. The leading question in our South African democracy then becomes; what criterion do we use during elections to decide the candidature of those we confer with the authority to decide for the rest of us? Surely after 20 years, a responsible citizenry should look back and see if the ruling party has delivered on their many promises. Former US president Bill Clinton said in a statement relating to the Obama care scheme that a promise is a promise and president Obama has to figure out how to keep the promises the federal government made to Americans. Has the ANC leadership since 1994 kept their promises and if not what are you and your fellas going to do about it? For most South Africans who live behind the iron curtain of poverty; basic services like clean drinking water, affordable electricity, access to health facilities, schools, shelter, skills training for the youth and a sustainable jobs should be things that are accessible 20 years into democracy. Unfortunately we know that this has not been the case and in fact the divide between the rich and the poor has grown bigger and continues to grow. The question once again is which fellow countrymen can at least make an attempt to stop the haemorrhage and Identify sustainable wins so we can keep our heads above water?

It’s time for South Africans to do their homework before another visit to the polling station to avoid repeating the same mistakes made in the previous polls. It’s time to tell public representatives that the price of a vote has increased just like the price of everything else that has gone up. Voters must now give votes with strings attached. The conditions must include amongst other things; visible public officials who are in touch with the challenges of their respective constituencies, expulsion of corrupt government officials, provision of good quality education which must be on par with the best international standards, healthcare that speaks to our societal ills, a new approach in fighting the scourge of substance abuse, jobs for all who are able and a reform of the tender process that has led to fruitless and wasteful expenditure of billions of Rands. Yes it is indeed possible for the government to secure a good number of jobs through infrastructure expenditure totalling close to R 1 trillion in the next 5 years; but for as long as checks and balances are not in place to ensure that communities benefit from these projects, service delivery protest will continue to increase and poverty and penury will be the order of the day for the majority who are at the bottom of the food chain.

The ANC has long been kidnapped by the mob and some small time gangsters whose status in society has been nourished by state tenders. They now drive around townships like spoiled chubby chicks looking at their fellow countrymen with disdain and pity as they put on airs with their ill-gotten gains.  The promise of equality and a rainbow nation has become a dream deferred for the majority who suffered at the hands of Apartheid and there seems to be no end in sight; at least not anytime soon. One is tempted to think that the reason why most South Africans fear the passing of Madiba is because they have seen over the years how their dreams have faded in sync with the ageing of Madiba.  Of course a responsible government should seek to allay such fears through implementation of their developmental policies and programmes; but alas the current government is indulging in sophisticated debauchery at the expense of taxpayers and the poorest of the poor and they continue to loot together with their friends from the mob and small time gangsters.

Opposition parties have so far failed to utilise the most important tool needed to attain political change which is empowering voters with political knowledge through various means that exist in the age of social networks. Many of our population still believe voting for the ANC is as good as voting for Nelson Mandela, little do they know that the principled Nelson Mandela would not support the circus that the current crop is indulging in.  Much noise must be made by opposition parties and civil society to force electoral reform from proportional representation to a constituency based system because the latter encourages political parties to field their best candidates while proportional representation is a travesty that breeds mediocrity. No prices for guessing why the ANC is comfortable with the current system of proportional representation; because it allows most of the upstarts in their ranks to hide behind the larger than life character of Madiba. A constituency based system will allow voters to choose those who they deem fit and competent for office with clearly defined deliverables and penalties.

Someday South Africans will get a government they deserve which will serve their interest and give them hope for the future, but for this to happen the country needs an active citizenry that demands accountability from its politicians. A citizenry that is aware that the highest political office is that of the citizen. A citizenry that has the courage to be loyal and patriotic to the nation and not a ruling party. Perhaps when that happens, then the promise can start taking shape and become a reality. For now it’s the same old season for giving votes away like Santa gives presents to children; but the difference is Santa gives away for a good cause while voters give to extend the mandate of greedy demagogues to their detriment.