Ignoring voters at its peril
THERE is nothing that switches off voters as much as political parties that navel gaze and focus on internal politicking and infighting. When that goes on all the time, voters know instinctively that they are not regarded as important; they realise their interests are being neglected.
Our government is in deep trouble. The reason is that it is riven from top to bottom by faction-fighting. Sure, it mouths platitudes and populist slogans designed to attract voters, but the ineptitude, the corruption and the all too apparent urge to fight for the power to feed at the trough while the going is good, undermines the image of the governing political party.
After all, the president himself said some months ago that, to him, the ANC came first, before the country.
While that comment was not as crude as the famous statement by Minister Nomvula Mokonyane when she told the voters of Bekkersdal: “We don’t want your dirty votes,” it had the same impact.
One does not have to be a genius to know that the main problem is unemployment. We have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. Until our economy grows, like the economies of almost all the other developing and developed countries, we will not solve our unemployment. Politicians who care would surely focus on policies aimed at making us grow and creating jobs.
Instead, at its recent policy conference, thousands of ANC leading lights spent days discussing rubbish like “white monopoly capital”. The phrase was invented for the Guptas, an Indian immigrant family, a year or two ago by the London firm Bell Pottinger to assist them in dividing the races in our country to distract the attention of the voters from the Guptas’ capture of the ANC.
After days of debate it was announced triumphantly, as a great victory by the antiZuma faction, that the word “white” had been dropped and the villain of the piece would henceforth be “monopoly capital”. This was interpreted as a repudiation of the Zuma faction and a major achievement of the Ramaphosa faction.
As far as I could see, with tears in my eyes, not one hour was devoted to something practical like the question: What can we do to grow the economy and create jobs for our young people?
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – who is dumbing herself down so she becomes acceptable to the likes of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), of former army chef and now Deputy Minister Kebby Maphatsoe of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans and Minister Bathabile Dlamini of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) – said after the conference that she was in favour of the term white monopoly capital, which had just been defeated in favour of “monopoly capital”.
“There is no doubt that in South Africa as a whole, it is a monopoly of the white conglomerates that dominates the economy. So, I don’t think it is even an issue, but elsewhere and in general, it is monopoly capital. But in South Africa, if you look at Group Five, the food, beverages and construction industries, it’s all white-dominated,” she said.
The poor woman is not dumb and there should be some limits to vote-seeking. I know her well and know that she is highly intelligent but to be fair, she is a doctor and not an economist. Surely, though, she can understand that the only real monopolies in our country are the state-owned entities like SAA, Denel, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Transnet, PetroSA and the SABC, many of which are a by-word for corruption and maladministration?
Dlamini Zuma thinks Group Five and the construction industries are monopolies. Has she no idea that there is fierce competition between these companies, especially when some of them were slapped with huge penalties for price-collusion over the World Cup construction?
Dlamini Zuma thinks too, that the food and beverage industries are monopolies. She obviously has not the vaguest idea of what goes on in our economy. These companies are among the most highly competitive businesses anywhere, many with small margins of profit on a very large turnover.
Members of the ANCWL who, according to their president, are inclined to get too emotional and lose debates as a result and the ANCYL, whose members are products of the low standard of education we give our children, might believe and appreciate this nonsense; others do not.
What people want to know is what the government is doing (after all, it has been in power for a quarter of a century) to strengthen our economy and grow it. No answers are forthcoming other than inanities like the futile debate about white monopoly capital.
Instead, we hear from the president and some of his faction that the constitution is to blame for the land question and that what is needed is expropriation without compensation. He does not dare call it what it is: Theft from the haves to give to the have-nots.
One is not sure how many people believe this ignorant and cynical anti-constitutionalism from the very man who took an oath of office to uphold the constitution. No doubt to some who are not owners, it sounds madly attractive. To anyone who has any idea of investing in our country and helping us grow our economy, rather than looking elsewhere in the world for investment havens, it sounds mad.
One could go on. The point is that while discussing and promoting ideological fancies and fantasies, some of which are mere rubbish, we are missing the opportunity to arrest the drift and destructive policy confusion of the Zuma years by adopting policies that have a chance of creating a better life for all. The voters might well realise soon that we need a new beginning.
HUNG OUT TO DRY: Unemployed youths sit around in Louisville, Mpumalanga. Politicians who cared for people would focus on SA’s main problem – unemployment, says the writer.