Empowered or disenfranchised, all are looters
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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INCENDIARY Tshwane was up in flames this week as protesters vented their anger