Old­est lib­er­a­tion move­ment has now lost the plot in mov­ing Mzansi for­ward

ANC’s Jan­uary 8 state­ment is full of empty prom­ises to dupe masses

Sowetan - - Opinion - Prince Mashele

“When politi­cians start talk­ing in mys­ti­cal terms, be­ware. They might be try­ing to dis­guise and ex­cuse real suf­fer­ing by wrap­ping it up in big in­com­pre­hen­si­ble words.”

Such is a sober­ing warn­ing from 21 Lessons for the 21st Cen­tury, a book by world-re­spected his­to­rian Yu­val Harari.

Last week the ANC held its an­nual birth­day party in Dur­ban, where its pres­i­dent, Cyril Ramaphosa, de­liv­ered the Jan­uary 8 state­ment of the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil.

Typ­i­cally, such state­ments are used to an­nounce the party’s pro­gramme for the year ahead. The pro­gramme in­cludes in­ter­nal party work and what it will do in the gov­ern­ment.

What the party does to it­self is a mat­ter for its mem­bers. What it does in the gov­ern­ment con­cerns all South Africans. That is why mil­lions of peo­ple sit in front of their tele­vi­sion sets to hear what the ANC leader, who is also our coun­try’s pres­i­dent, has to say. In years past, Jan­uary 8 state­ments used to be se­ri­ous busi­ness for our coun­try. This was when cit­i­zens still ex­pected a great deal from pol­i­tics. A prom­ise of jobs at such an event used to in­stil hope among mil­lions of un­em­ployed peo­ple.

As was ex­pected, Ramaphosa did prom­ise jobs. In an elec­tion year, it would have been a tac­ti­cal mis­cal­cu­la­tion not do to so. But South Africans have no rea­son to be­lieve Ramaphosa. Al­bert Ein­stein de­fined in­san­ity as do­ing the same thing over and over and ex­pect­ing dif­fer­ent re­sults. If you are un­em­ployed, how many times has the ANC promised you jobs? Do you now have the promised job? If you still be­lieve the ANC, Ein­stein would de­clare you mad.

Here is a painful truth: the ANC has run out of ideas. The party does not know what to do with the South African econ­omy. Ramaphosa does not know where a new fac­tory will be built, by whom, to pro­duce what and to em­ploy how many peo­ple.

If you do not be­lieve this, you must look around wher­ever you are, and point at one fac­tory built by the ANC since 1994. Re­mem­ber that the ANC is a lib­er­a­tion move­ment. The only thing lib­er­a­tion move­ments know is to fight in the bush. They do not know how to man­age an econ­omy. The other thing they know best is to prom­ise jobs, not to cre­ate them. The ANC is a sad case. It took over a so­phis­ti­cated mod­ern state from the apartheid regime. The boers had set up an elab­o­rate net­work of state-owned com­pa­nies through which they cre­ated em­ploy­ment for their poor peo­ple.

Look at Eskom to­day. Look at SAA to­day. Look at Denel to­day. Look at Transnet to­day. The ANC has al­most brought these com­pa­nies to the ground. Would it not be mad­ness to be­lieve that such a party can cre­ate jobs? We have now reached a point in the evo­lu­tion of postapartheid SA where pol­i­tics has be­come un­re­li­able as an in­stru­ment of cit­i­zen em­pow­er­ment.

The mind­set of a typ­i­cal South African politi­cian is not to im­prove peo­ple’s lives. It’s to earn a salary and use po­lit­i­cal of­fice to steal money. That is why even de­cent-sound­ing par­lia­men­tar­i­ans like Vin­cent Smith ac­cept bribes from Bosasa. Take a care­ful look at the homes of our politi­cians, and you will re­alise that they live like mil­lion­aires. The whole thing is not about em­pow­er­ing you. It is about em­pow­er­ing the politi­cians them­selves.

It would be great if our politi­cians were like Jo­han­nes­burg mayor Her­man Mashaba, who made money be­fore go­ing into pol­i­tics. Alas, the op­po­site is the case. Our politi­cians use pol­i­tics to es­cape poverty and to en­rich them­selves.

What, then, must we do? If you are un­em­ployed, ask what you can do for your­self, not what politi­cians will do for you in 2019. They will do noth­ing for you. Harari is cor­rect: When politi­cians start talk­ing in mys­ti­cal terms, be­ware. They might be try­ing to dis­guise and ex­cuse real suf­fer­ing by wrap­ping it up in big in­com­pre­hen­si­ble words.


Our gov­ern­ing politi­cians don’t care about em­pow­er­ing the poor or cre­at­ing jobs but only about tak­ing money to en­rich them­selves, says the writer.

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