Opposition disunity + loyalty to the ANC = business as usual in ...

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Opposition disunity + loyalty to the ANC = business as usual in SA

Until opposition parties put their differences aside and voters backbench loyalty, the ANC will continue to sink SA

Columnist
The latest crime stats, released recently by police minister Bheki Cele, are horrific, as is the ANC's support of a Western Cape mayor with a child rape conviction.
BELIEVE IT The latest crime stats, released recently by police minister Bheki Cele, are horrific, as is the ANC's support of a Western Cape mayor with a child rape conviction.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The problem with the hot klap the ANC received on November 1 is that it wasn’t hot enough. Even after being forced below 50% of votes cast, the party is going about its business pretty much in the way it always has: the cadres are still looting and fighting over positions, while remaining as contemptuous of the people who put them in power as they were before the election date was announced.

This week, while much of the country was in the dark, ANC leaders were engaged in a public squabble about Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. Deputy president David Mabuza came out in support of De Ruyter, while finance minister Enoch Godongwana and mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe were critical of his two-year tenure at the state-owned enterprise (SOE).

The point is this: cabinet cannot even stick to one narrative about a CEO it appointed just two years ago? Who is in charge of this debating society? No one.

Cabinet is a headless chicken. President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot bring himself to appoint a chief justice. He keeps passing the ball to the public and institutions not mandated to do his job for him. Next thing he will set up a committee to decide whether he should have Rooibos or Ceylon tea. There is no sense of urgency, no acknowledgment that the economy is tanking and people are desperate. In this leadership vacuum the ANC saw fit to support a Western Cape mayor who was convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl.

This is an organisation that has not been taught a lesson. So why is it that the ANC can afford the luxury of doing business as it has for the past 12 years? There are two reasons.

First, the opposition parties are in such disarray that the ANC is chortling at their shenanigans. SA now faces the real and present danger of the ruling party not just running Tshwane and Johannesburg, which it ran into the ground between 1994 and 2016, but worse, running them with the EFF. If you think ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba kowtowed to the EFF when he was mayor of Johannesburg, just watch what ANC mayors and senior leaders will do for the red berets when it inevitably threatens to withdraw support for the party in those metros. They will give the EFF anything its “war council” wants.

Even with its extraordinarily bad performance in government, the party’s leaders have no fear of the opposition. They are fully aware that any glue the opposition has to bind itself has been thrown overboard. The ANC is laughing. The party’s supremacy for another five years at local level is almost assured.

Even with the party below 50%, the ANC is aware that the DA’s petty hatred of Herman Mashaba and his party will cobble cooperation or coalition between the two. Meanwhile, old wounds and suspicions will continue to drive a wedge between the UDM, DA and others. The same wedge exists between the EFF, DA and others.

The ANC watches this Tower of Babel and laughs. It is reminded of Cope’s coming in 2008, the later emergence of Agang and the rise of people such as Mmusi Maimane in the DA. They were all false dawns that merely solidified the ANC’s grip on the centre of politics in SA.

Even with its extraordinarily bad performance in government, the party’s leaders have no fear of the opposition. They are fully aware that any glue the opposition has to bind itself has been thrown overboard. The ANC is laughing. The party’s supremacy for another five years at local level is almost assured.

The second reason is the ANC realises that even after its spectacular failures to deal with everything from endemic corruption, rampant crime, crumbling infrastructure, incoherent policy, plummeting confidence and runway unemployment and poverty, nearly half of voters are still prepared to keep it in office. In essence, the November 1 result was a light slap on the wrist rather than the hot klap the ANC knows it deserves. People without electricity in their homes voted for the ANC on November 1. This was the same party whose leaders gave Eskom to the Guptas to loot and did nothing while it collapsed. Yet, still in the dark, the ANC got nearly as many votes as the entire opposition combined.

This is why we are where we are now. The horrific crime statistics police minister Bheki Cele spoke to parliament about last week hardly raised an eyebrow. The ANC’s support for the Western Cape’s child rapist mayor was a mere blip in the news cycle.

The message that the nation is angry and has had enough of its foot-dragging, corruption and incompetence has not got through to the ANC. It’s business as usual.

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