“South African exceptionalism” Don’t fool yourself

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“South African exceptionalism” Don’t fool yourself

By Russell Pollitt SJ

The African National Congress (ANC) does not care about South Africa (SA). The ANC is a movement that only cares about certain individuals in the movement and the factions they belong to. Liberation movements have proved over and over again that they cannot govern a country. We may have suffered from a ‘South African exceptionalism’ (or ‘ANC exceptionalism’) but we should sober up and realise that this is not the case. The ANC has descended into chaos and the country has been dragged down by this self-centred arrogant mess. SA is no shining light anymore.  

Last weekend the ANC in the Eastern Cape – during a shambolic conference – re-elected Oscar Mabuyane as provincial chairperson. The Eastern Cape is one of SA’s most troubled provinces. Health, education, water, infrastructure are all in a mess. Unemployment in the Eastern Cape is running at 50%, there has been no economic growth in the province. Mabuyane has reigned over this mess, he has been unimpressive. Yet, ANC factionalism has put him back in a position where we know he will achieve nothing.  

Let us go back just a few weeks. The ANC in the suffering province of KwaZulu-Natal elected former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede as chairperson of eThekwini in a landslide victory. Gumede faces a number of charges of corruption. Although she will not be allowed to take office because of the ANC step-aside rule, the fact that a faction shamelessly elected her says where their priorities lie, what the ANC thinks about corruption and effectual governance.  Just this week Eskom announced that it recorded its highest number of trips at power stations – 697 – double what was expected this year. They said that not a single power station in SA is running at full capacity. They are calling on the private sector for help. They say that millions of litres of (expensive) diesel will be burnt this winter and rolling power cuts, further damaging the economy and impacting on the unemployment rate, are highly likely. The ANC government has been promising for more than 10 years that the power crisis in this country, which stunts the economy and therefore jobs, will be rectified. It is only getting worse.  

It seems as if some members of the ANC do not need to have integrity, a clean track record, be responsible, accountable or have an aptitude for leadership and service. One would have thought this would have been a pressing priority for the ANC. We have heard over and over again how the party is anti-corruption and how it will be stamped out. The ANC shamelessly puts known, at best ineffective, at worst corrupt individuals back into power over and over again. The requirements for leadership in the ANC are crookery, factionalism and a hunger for power which will surely be abused.  

There will no doubt be some who are uncomfortable with a priest saying this. ‘Stay out of politics!’ The bottom line is that people die in failed health care facilities, children attend abysmal schools and use pit latrines, people go hungry and infrastructure crumbles while the governing party dance and dine in lavish conferences which elect ineffectual and corrupt leaders. Faith demands that we speak out when people suffer. It becomes even more poignant when those in authority do nothing except serve themselves.  

Be clear: the ANC does not care about you or South Africa. They only look after themselves.

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