103 pledges don’t convince

ONE couldn’t help wondering why the ANC spent so much on their 103 anniversary celebration. Such milestones are normally celebrated in decades, or more significant categories such as half centuries, centenaries and jubilees, not every year.

But when one considers the state of the economy, of our education system, joblessness, crime levels – especially involving state corruption – and the condition of the ANC itself, it is clear why the ANC clutched at this proverbial straw. The party chose to hold this celebration in the Western Cape in a bid to project massive support in a part of the country that long ago chose to relegate the ANC to the benches of the opposition.

The “straw-man” arguments made by President Jacob Zuma, Gwede Mantashe and Jesse Duarte et al that the Western Cape is the last remaining bastion of oppression, are quite fantastical, especially considering the influx of people from ANC-led provinces to this place of opportunity and good governance.

Zuma’s commitment “to radical change” and his emphasis on the socalled second phase of transformation linked to four key areas of governance:

● “The ANC must continue to lead in ending corruption in the state, the private sector and amongst our own membership”;

● The quality of service delivery at local government level; ● The energy situation; and ● The land issue. The credibility of his pledge is fatally flawed when one considers his and the ANC’s commitment to these issues. A very cursory assessment of each leaves little doubt that there is little or no hope of any of these issues being properly addressed, let alone resolved, while Zuma presides over the nation and ANC.

On corruption he has the least credibility because, despite countless undertakings since his days as leader of the moral regeneration movement that he would defend the hundreds of charges of corruption in a court of law, he has used every trick in the book – not to mention millions of taxpayers’ rands – to stay well away from courts. And when he has not been able to avoid the courts he loses one case after the other, such as the DA’s case against the refusal to release the so-called “spy-tapes”.

Despite his own personal credibility travails, his relationships with known felons and businessmen of dubious character, local and foreign, continue to blight his image along with that of his party and our country locally and abroad.

The premature parole of Schabir Shaik and Jackie Selebi, the immunity and impunity of the likes of Bheki Cele, John Block, Dina Pule and a long, long list of other ANC figures despite very obvious involvement in corruption, makes his call to counter corruption ring very hollow.

Further, one only has to consider the Mandela funeral corruption scam where a number of ANC heavyweights have been implicated to note the lack of serious intent regarding dealing with graft.

More than a year has passed since this disgraceful episode. The mayor of BCM, her deputy, the speaker and the recently promoted notorious councillor Sindiswa Gomba have all been implicated along with the ANC regional secretary Phumlani Mkolo (also of great notoriety). These people have apparently all appeared before the ANC’s “national integrity commission” whereafter, provincial ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane said “the outcomes can be available even before September”.

Well, it is now January 2015 and only an ANC-linked businessman, Mzwandile Sokwali, has been convicted for his role. He pleaded guilty to failing to inform the police of suspicion of fraud. His company, Victory Ticket 750cc, was convicted of fraud and corruption.

Despite this conviction and evidence emanating from the trial that Mkolo pressured him to rig invoices or he would face harm, even death, the other senior ANC-leaders implicated remain in office from where they are able to exert considerable influence over the awarding of tenders.

Gomba was recently implicated for taking favours from Victory Ticket 750cc in “return for passing illegal monies to the company regarding the Mandela funeral and memorials”.

Despite Mabuyane saying “the ANC will not close its eyes and will act”, it would seem it has done exactly the opposite when it promoted this disgraced cadre back onto the mayoral executive.

When it comes to undertaking to improve service delivery at local government level, the ANC has decided to embark on an apologist “We are sorry” campaign to try and keep hold of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

This strategy, coupled with blaming the Herald newspaper for the party’s poor public profile, cannot be considered as an honest attempt to improve service delivery. Rather than saying sorry when they aren’t, the ANC should replace the cadres that preside over chaos in local government.

But this won’t happen as they have been placed in positions of authority for loyalty to the ANC and to Zuma, the very person who says he will effect a radical turn-around.

The lack of serious commitment to improving service delivery is ominously exposed in Zuma’s determination to muzzle or dismantle the two state institutions that have endeavoured, to date, to provide decent service delivery: the South African Revenue Service and the Hawks.

Whatever the president says in denial of this allegation is frankly unbelievable.

Thirdly, regarding energy, on this matter the president is on the shakiest of ground. No matter what he, his spin doctors or Eskom say, South Africans all know that we do not have enough energy to power our economy. Not only are we unable to grow our economy as a result, but jobs will unfortunately be shed.

Further, entrusting the Ministry of Energy to Tina Joemat Petterson is not only catastrophic but is a regrettable reflection of Zuma’s own lack of understanding of how dire our energy supply situation is. Joemat Petterson couldn’t even allocate fishing licences and quotas properly, now she is expected to negotiate multi-billion energy deals with less than reputable countries and service providers.

This cannot simply be an error of judgment, it smacks of the kind of selfservice that is never in the interests of citizens.

South Africans are hardly back from their annual vacations and rolling blackouts are forecast by a bankrupt Eskom. Sorry Mr President, we just don’t believe a word of what you say.

Lastly, the so-called land issue is only an issue because of the ANC’s failed land reform initiatives and the noise being made by the ANC’s own “Frankenstein”, the EFF. Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s recent kite flying exercise – the proposed expropriation of 50% of all land owned by white commercial farmers – was unconstitutional and therefore unlawful. But it did illicit some innovative policy proposals from the agricultural sector – proposals that Nkwinti apparently welcomed.

This emerging sanity must not be sacrificed in the tit-for-tat politics we have seen develop in parliament between the ANC and EFF. The Freedom Charter says “the land shall be shared amongst those who work it” and more importantly that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white”. This means one population group cannot be dispossessed to deliver on opportunistic rhetoric from a governing party under threat from an emerging alternative government.

No, Mr President! Your promises made at your party’s 103rd birthday celebrations do not convince citizens that our country is NOT in trouble, precisely because of all the unfulfilled promises and maladministration to date.

The scales have fallen from people’s eyes. They know what it is that is bedeviling the dream of a Rainbow Nation – it’s you and the ANC.

Athol Trollip is DA provincial leader, Bhisho legislature

This article appeared in the Daily Dispatch on 15 January 2015.