Does it matter who leads the ANC?

David Bullard asks why the good men of the ruling party remain silent

To be brutally honest, I couldn't really care less who leads the ANC. In fact, it's only recently that I took the trouble to Google the name "Mangaung" and discovered that it's not actually on the border of Zimbabwe as I assumed but in the Free State. When the party faithful assemble there at the end of this year to elect the leader who will carry the country forward into the next 4 years of international oblivion I will probably just yawn and console myself with the thought that I've seen it all before.

If the Mayans are right and the world ends on December 21st none of this will matter but I have a nagging doubt about the accuracy of the Mayan calendar and suspect they may have got the date wrong. In which case we will have no choice but to face the prospect of another four years of looting and pillaging either under the same President or under a clone. But what does it really matter because, whoever becomes President, the looting and pillaging seems destined to continue.

If I happened to be a black South African who had voted for a better and fairer South Africa in 1994 I would be hugely pissed off. But I am, as many of my readers have pointed out in the comments section in past weeks, a mere pale faced colonial observer of events with that most beautiful of documents....a British passport.

I can push off whenever it suits me and, better still, I can join the millions of rands that the SA Treasury has allowed me to legally stash offshore over the years. I would appear to be perfectly hedged. Except for the fact that I haven't stashed millions offshore in case I want to gap it because I would much prefer to live here in SA and am even prepared to pay taxes for that privilege. All of which should suggest that I should be very interested in who leads the ANC.

But try as I may I cannot get enthusiastic. Maybe it's advancing years.  I'm fed up with the constant infighting within the ANC, bored with the moronic behaviour of its Youth League, with the corruption, with a cabinet that opposes foreign investment (Walmart) and with the astonishing lack of any direction among our politicians.

I could just about put up with the arrogance of a party that believes it will rule until Jesus comes if they could demonstrate some real advances in the past 18 years. They will no doubt brag about houses built, electricity delivered, water provided and, admittedly, there are some encouraging stories but the good is far outweighed by the bad. I've lost count of how many senior officials have been accused of corruption on a massive scale over the years but I can only think of one (Selebi) that has been disgraced and sent to prison.

Most of the others seem to have been suspended on full pay pending the absurdly drawn out legal processes they face at the taxpayer's expense. Is it surprising that so many government employees opt for a criminal career? Weighing up the risk reward ratio it makes sense to embezzle a few million rands of public money. If you're unlucky enough to get caught you'll still have several years to spend your ill-gotten gains before the docket is lost or the case thrown out for lack of evidence. My solution to the problem would be the death penalty.

What worries me most though is that the honest members of the ANC (and they definitely do exist) seem quite content to remain mute while their colleagues piss all over Nelson Mandela's legacy. Maybe there are things happening behind the scenes but I know many people are puzzled that ANC stalwarts like Cyril Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe and Tokyo Sexwale can remain so quiet in the face of what is a national disaster.

What this suggests to me is that the ANC's claims that the party is united is so much hogwash. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a splintering of the party ahead of Mangaung as the more globally in touch members of the ANC realise that South Africa is in grave danger of becoming another spectacular African basket case.

I can't believe that senior members of the ANC executive regard Julius Malema's utterances as part of a vibrant discourse on the future of the ANC. On the contrary, I suspect many would be happy to be rid of this noisy idiot for good. Similarly, I cannot believe that those same senior members of the ANC see any merit in nationalising mines or appropriating land without compensation or of deliberately alienating our major trading partners.

So why don't they speak out? Maybe the punishment for that sort of disloyalty is too terrible to contemplate for someone who has been an ANC party member since youth. In which case the bullies win the day and it's just more of the same. So you can hardly blame me for having virtually no interest in who eventually leads this ragbag of kleptocrats come the end of the year. But I am always happy to be proved wrong in such matters.

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