Lo­cal poll is look­ing strangely na­tional

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

NOT long now and it will all be over. On Wed­nes­day we vote and the child­ish squawk­ing and mo­ronic bab­ble will be be­hind us.

As far as the cam­paigns went, well, here at the Ma­hogany Ridge it cer­tainly hasn’t felt like a lo­cal lo­cal elec­tion, but rather a na­tional ref­er­en­dum on Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

Zexit, you could say and the al­ter­na­tive, Texit – although some of the reg­u­lars be­lieve the lat­ter could well be re­dun­dant, as ZANC has al­ready taken ev­ery­thing.

This is not, how­ever, to sug­gest lo­cal is­sues haven’t been raised. Or rather, is­sues of na­tional im­por­tance that could be con­sid­ered lo­cal.

Far from it and there were cer­tainly no short­age of such con­cerns, in­clud­ing the fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the on­go­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery fail­ures and the vi­o­lent protests in this re­gard, our now brazenly cor­rupt pub­lic of­fi­cials and the grow­ing hous­ing back­log.

As wor­ry­ing as all th­ese may be, they’re nowhere near as fright­en­ing as the ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis, ris­ing unem­ploy­ment and the lack of job op­por­tu­ni­ties for the grow­ing hordes of un­skilled youth out there.

In­ter­est­ingly, when the rul­ing party be­gan its elec­tion cam­paign some months back, there were strong in­di­ca­tions the ANC was go­ing to play it safe and keep its pres­i­dent un­der wraps lest he em­bar­rass the party.

Like say some­thing off the cuff. In pub­lic.

Zuma’s im­age, you will re­call, was absent from the T-shirts and posters the ANC dished out at the voter reg­is­tra­tion week­ends, even in his “home base”, KwaZulu-Natal, and there was a per­cep­tion Luthuli House had at last re­alised what a li­a­bil­ity he could be.

Pun­dits pointed to the 2014 gen­eral elec­tions where the Gaut­eng ANC had at­tempted to limit his par­tic­i­pa­tion on the cam­paign trail be­cause, bluntly, the “clevers” – the black bour­geoisie – were ap­palled at the scan­dals sur­round­ing the man.

Of course, lo­cal party of­fi­cials were quickly and per­haps force­fully shown the er­ror of their think­ing.

Any no­tion mat­ters would be dif­fer­ent this time around were quickly dis­pelled.

An un­fet­tered Zuma has again taken cen­tre stage, lay­ing it on thick with mumbo jumbo about snakes in the grass and God and Je­sus en­sur­ing vic­tory at the polls.

He’s even warned the an­ces­tors would bring bad luck to those who voted for the op­po­si­tion.

But who knows? The party will hold its fi­nal rally in Jo­han­nes­burg tomorrow – op­por­tu­nity enough, pre­sum­ably, for the in­tro­duc­tion of yet more horned de­mons and old apartheid wraiths to dis­tract us from such is­sues as the on­go­ing mur­ders of ANC ward coun­cil­lor can­di­dates and anger with the party’s can­di­date se­lec­tion process.

Lit­tle won­der, then, Zuma has been a pow­er­ful as­set to the op­po­si­tion. Rather greed­ily – and this is so like them – the DA has elected to make use of not one, but two ANC pres­i­dents in its cam­paign and is cheer­fully in­sist­ing that it is the true guardian of the sainted Madiba le­gacy.

Could they not re­strict them­selves to safe­guard­ing Helen Suz­man’s le­gacy?

Per­haps the EFF’s Julius Malema is cor­rect in sug­gest­ing par­ties leave the old guy out of it. Per­son­ally, I’d wanted more Nimby-ish is­sues to have dom­i­nated the cam­paigns. I firmly do fall into the Not In My Back Yard cat­e­gory. But then only be­cause the sort of stuff that has gone down there has been gen­er­ally crap and what’s been pro­posed for the fu­ture in terms of de­vel­op­ment is just as hor­ri­ble.

Here’s a thing: in a re­cent ra­dio de­bate, Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neil­son re­vealed the city owned about 24 000 parcels of land — about half of which were va­cant. He was re­luc­tant to re­veal much more about the prop­er­ties, sug­gest­ing this could lead to land in­va­sions.

Alas, this re­luc­tance – ac­cord­ing to another par­tic­i­pant in the de­bate, the ACDP’s Grant Haskin – bol­stered the per­cep­tion the DA col­luded with prop­erty de­vel­op­ers and “only cer­tain prop­er­ties are re­leased to cer­tain prop­erty de­vel­op­ers”.

It’s a per­cep­tion that will con­tinue so long as po­lit­i­cal par­ties are not re­quired to dis­close the iden­ti­ties of their pri­vate fun­ders.

We may won­der where the ANC found the R1 bil­lion or so it re­port­edly needed to fund its lo­cal elec­tion cam­paign.

Trans­parency de­mands we ask the same of other par­ties as well.

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