Em­pow­ered or dis­en­fran­chised, all are loot­ers

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Rapule Tabane voices@city­press.co.za

Amo­ment that caught my at­ten­tion this week was when News24 was speak­ing to a taxi driver in Pretoria. He said Tsh­wane’s mayor, Kgosientso “Sputla” Ramok­gopa, was be­ing re­moved be­cause he was part of a group that wanted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to step down.

The driver added that Sputla was un­der at­tack in the same way as Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, whom the Gup­tas were try­ing to oust from of­fice. The driver was mak­ing a case against the ANC’s choice of may­oral can­di­date for Tsh­wane, Thoko Didiza. His con­spir­acy the­ory is just that – a the­ory. It has no ba­sis in fact. It is one of many con­spir­acy the­o­ries that have been cir­cu­lat­ing to ex­plain why Ramok­gopa is not com­ing back as mayor, and “why a Zulu woman is be­ing parachuted” into Tsh­wane.

I am con­vinced that the rea­son th­ese the­o­ries gain trac­tion is be­cause of the deep-seated mis­trust of the ANC lead­er­ship that has gained ground. Given the many scan­dals that have en­gulfed its lead­ers, peo­ple now be­lieve that no de­ci­sion is ever taken in­no­cently, with­out it some­how ben­e­fit­ing a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial.

So, even when a com­pe­tent per­son such as Didiza is brought in, the peo­ple’s knee-jerk re­ac­tion is to look be­yond her and pry into the mo­tives of those who de­ployed her.

As trib­al­is­tic and trou­ble­some as it sounds, some peo­ple see Zuma as try­ing to in­stall “a home­girl” so he can plun­der the Tsh­wane cof­fers.

I have in­ter­viewed Didiza nu­mer­ous times and seen her at work. I doubt she would ac­cept this po­si­tion as a proxy to ben­e­fit any­one.

But who is go­ing to be­lieve me? And does the truth even mat­ter now, when per­cep­tions mean so much?

Ev­ery­where, or­di­nary cit­i­zens have be­come sus­pi­cious of politi­cians, de­spite the fact that they elected them to power.

Their mis­trust is ex­ac­er­bated when our im­par­tial courts rule against the lead­er­ship, and Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela de­liv­ers find­ing af­ter find­ing on the abuse of pub­lic re­sources, the most in­fa­mous be­ing her Nkandla re­port.

The truth is, our lead­ers have lost moral au­thor­ity, and none can rise and speak above the fray. While the ex­plo­sive sit­u­a­tion in Tsh­wane was par­tic­u­lar to that metro; it could have been any­where in the coun­try.

The cul­ture that has de­vel­oped over the years within the party is one of prey­ing on state re­sources – and the elec­torate has cot­toned on to their scram­ble for per­sonal ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth over ser­vice de­liv­ery.

The un­prece­dented lev­els of protest, along with the fights over who makes it on to an ANC coun­cil­lors’ list are nei­ther sur­pris­ing nor ac­ci­den­tal. Ev­ery­one can see how ben­e­fi­cial it is to be­come a coun­cil­lor: not only do you earn a rea­son­able salary, but you are also in a pow­er­ful po­si­tion to de­cide on ten­ders and ap­point­ments.

So when some­one does not make it back as a coun­cil­lor or mayor, the peo­ple who se­cured their ten­ders through that of­fi­cial’s con­nec­tions have a lot to lose, and hence are among the first to cause may­hem.

This is the storm in which Didiza found her­self em­broiled. As an out­sider to the cul­ture in Tsh­wane metro’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, she is of no use to the cur­rent ten­der­preneurs. She is, in fact, a threat to the dom­i­nant cor­rupt cul­ture.

The fight to re­move her is about the bat­tle to ac­cess re­sources. As the eco­nomic down­turn bites and more peo­ple are ren­dered job­less, des­per­a­tion in­creases. Res­i­dents who are not in­volved in th­ese machi­na­tions see what is go­ing on and are sus­pi­cious of any po­lit­i­cal ma­noeu­vrings.

When Kgalema Mot­lanthe was ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral, he warned about such preda­tory be­hav­iour tak­ing root in the party. More re­cently, he warned that things would get worse be­fore they got bet­ter.

At its na­tional gen­eral coun­cil last year, the ANC adopted all the right­sound­ing res­o­lu­tions: deal with lack of dis­ci­pline, hooli­gan­ism and neg­a­tive ten­den­cies that turn peo­ple from the party.

But none are be­ing im­ple­mented, ei­ther be­cause lead­ers are more con­cerned for their own fu­ture or they are all too aware that, even if they tried to pro­vide lead­er­ship, no one would take them se­ri­ously.

We are in trou­ble. It was Vuwani yes­ter­day, it is Tsh­wane to­day – where will the fires rage to­mor­row?

Do you be­lieve the ANC wants to stop cor­rup­tion or, as Mot­lanthe says, it will get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter?

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PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

IN­CEN­DI­ARY Tsh­wane was up in flames this week as pro­test­ers vented their anger

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