Voices

When the kettle calls pot black – we have shameless self-serving leaders

2020-02-06 17:09

We are being asked to forget that some of these people were the enablers of state capture yesteryear, writes Modidima Mannya

The saying that when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers holds true for our country and her people.

For many years now we have witnessed the spectacle of what appears to be an unending struggle for power between competing interest groups within the various political parties.

The most pronounced and worrying is the conflict within the governing ANC, which is characterised as factional battles.

Reports in the public domain give serious cold comfort to a people whose country and livelihoods teeter on the brink of collapse.

The factional or self-interest conflicts resemble a low-intensity civil war.

Economic growth, which is meant to cushion particularly the poor and unemployed citizens from the adversity of abject poverty, continues to shrink with more jobs being lost.

The economic growth forecast is ever diminishing.

In the midst of all this, the citizens are subjected to what is clearly a self-interest project of the triumphalists and the coalition of the wounded that emerged from the 2017 elective conference of the ANC.

For the first time in so many years of the ANC in government, some people have started to even question the wisdom of having the department of public enterprises.

The situation appears less warm outside the ANC, with the obvious fractures within the opposition ranks, which claim to be the watchdog of the governing party.

In a strange twist of fate, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which have been on a downward spiral over many years and have been a burden under the leadership of some handpicked loyalists of the erstwhile rulers, have become a point of interest in a different way to the very people instrumental in facilitating their collapse.

At the same time, we were given such confident assurances that in no time our SOEs would be in full recovery mode.

For the first time in so many years of the ANC in government, some people have started to even question the wisdom of having the department of public enterprises.

Their questioning may as well be logical but the motives are clearly not.

The obvious reality though is that the contest between the factions regarding the SOEs has nothing to do with the state of the enterprises but how to unseat each other.

In simple terms, the kettle is calling the pot black.

No single leader of the ANC can claim ignorance of the true causes of the current state of affairs.

The root causes have always been there and are well known.

The fact that they were ignored at the altar of political convenience does not detract from the reality of both their contribution to the problem as well as the leaders’ absolute failure to act in the public interest and address the problems when they started.

In our current situation, the biggest casualty will firstly be the truth and then the nation itself.

The very man tasked with the job of supposedly fixing these ailing enterprises was once one of the key lieutenants of the man we have all come to know as the enabler-in-chief of the collapse of our country.

This man may have at some point reached his Damascus moment and embarked on a whirlwind tour of the country imploring us to join the dots.

He may today be projected as the Messiah of our collapsed system.

The reality though is that his hands, like those of many, drip with the blood from the murder of our economy and country.

The biggest irony is when those from both sides of the factional war pretend to have woken up to a reality that has always been there.

It is shocking when those who allowed and in fact subcontracted power and/or turned a blind eye during the destruction of our country suddenly want us to believe that they could not have been part of the root causes of our troubles.

It is even worse when their power struggles were funded through a patronage system which led to our current woes.

Imagine a man who facilitated the looting of our public purse or the undermining of our country’s sovereignty by having his friends use our air force base as a landing pad for their wedding guests telling us how another person has failed to resolve the crisis of our SOEs.

We are trapped in a state of tokenistic leaders who always pay lip service to the people

Are we supposed to be so gullible as to believe that this man means any good and cares about this nation?

In our current situation, the biggest casualty will firstly be the truth and then the nation itself.

Those involved in the political infighting are loaded with their loot and have the full ability to leave this country any time to go and live comfortably elsewhere.

The truth of our situation is simply that we are victims of the lack of a clean, truthful and knowledgeable leadership which loves conflict more than togetherness and peace.

We are trapped in a state of tokenistic leaders who always pay lip service to the people.

There is a trait of corruption and abuse of the people by these leaders similar to what we have seen elsewhere.

Those involved may not be actuating a physical war as we have seen in other parts of the world but they are involved in a low-intensity battle without the use of arms.

The consequences are similar to those of the people who are suffering in situations of war.

Millions of South Africans are trapped in poverty and unemployment with service delivery deteriorating by the day.

French historian Ernest Renan is known for the statement that a nation is “a daily referendum” and that nations are based as much on what the people jointly forget, as what they remember.

We are being asked to forget that we fought many years of colonialism and apartheid.

We are supposed to forget that those involved in these irrelevant fights contributed significantly to our current woes.

We are being asked to forget that some of these people were the enablers of state capture yesteryear.

We are being asked to forget that those pretending to care about this nation failed in their primary responsibility to be servant leaders who put the interests of the nation above their own.

Those who want us to believe that they are capable of turning around our ailing SOEs must first explain how they appointed people with inadequate qualifications to run our revenue service.

They must tell us how this differs from what others did in our ailing SOEs when they appointed their cronies.

Those who claim to be concerned about the lack of turnaround in our SOEs must explain why they are not worried about the rampant crime, poverty and unemployment in our country.

They must tell us why they are less worried about the continued lack of access to basic services by millions of our people.

They must also tell us why aggravated ongoing abuse of women and children is not being tackled effectively.

They must tell us whether the departments responsible for these functions are doing any better.

We must not be asked as a nation to forget that we do have shameless self-serving leaders.

Modidima Mannya is an advocate, writer and executive director of legal services at Unisa


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March 29 2020