I've never quite understood the logic of destroying what little you have as a protest against not having more of what you want. So I was rather perplexed to read that the ANC Youth League had gone on a wrecking spree in Makhaza near Cape Town and torn down the newly erected closures the DA had put up around the toilets they had previously installed for residents.
The DA elected council say that they installed 1316 unenclosed toilets for each family on the understanding that the householders would enclose the toilets themselves. Not surprisingly, not all were and last Monday the DA erected 51 corrugated sheet enclosures for the residents at no cost to them. A few hours later the local ANC Youth League obviously decided that this was a colonial insult and that the residents of Makhaza would much prefer to perform their ablutions in full view of all their neighbours.
Unfortunately the long suffering residents of Makhaza (many of whom were no doubt delighted to have an enclosed toilet at last) didn't have much say in the matter. When the thugs from the ANCYL (who probably don't even live in Makhaza and therefore don't have to use the open toilets) decide that you will crap in the open air then that is the law.
Meanwhile in Reiger Park near Boksburg the air was filled with the pungent smell of burning tyres and trash. The residents of this impoverished settlement are angry because they have leaking effluent, no reliable electricity or water services and a lack of RDP houses. "We still live like pigs" complained one resident although it could be argued that many pigs live more fulfilled and comfortable lives than the wretched residents of Reiger Park.
The same scenario is playing itself out across the country. The party faithful are starting to wonder what happened to all those election promises back in 1994. They may not read the pages of Business Day or have access to the internet but they know as well as everyone else in the country that enormous amounts of money have been stolen by their elected representatives and there is none left over for them.
They see politicians swanning around in fancy cars and they know that only the favoured cronies are splitting the spoils among themselves. Personally I am amazed that these people have remained so quiet for so many years. Maybe they really did believe all that tosh about a better life for all. But they don't any more and as the foreign visitors arrive for the World Cup the country is literally on its knees....crippled by strikes and burning with frustration and resentment. Obviously we're not supposed to talk about that in the media because we've got to put on our happy face for the next few weeks and pretend we're a normal society.
But the party will all be over in just over six weeks and then the reality of what we have done will kick in. For example, how does the ANC plan to explain to those who are protesting about lack of service delivery that they decided to spend tens of millions on football stadiums that will mostly lie unused by the end of July? I wonder if somebody living in a tin shack with an open toilet and no electricity shares the same "it's great for the country" enthusiasm for the World Cup as a wealthy suburbanite with tickets for the final. I somehow doubt it. Any financial benefits that result from the world cup are hardly likely to trickle down that far.
Perhaps it would have been more honest for the South African government to have declined the chance to host the FIFA World Cup by explaining that there was still much to do to better the lives of 35 million people and that would have to be the priority. Maybe in ten years time Sepp. But they didn't. Knowing that a high percentage of the population were looking to them for a better life in a newly democratic country they decided instead to blow money that could have improved so many lives on a month long piss up.
That's a bit like buying a flat screen TV to impress your friends when your toilet is blocked and over-flowing. The UK certainly can't afford to stage the Olympics in 2012 and we certainly couldn't afford to stage the World Cup in 2010. Or rather we could but we would have to make some drastic cutbacks in social spending to afford the luxury. And you can be damn sure that a handful of well connected folk have made a pile of money from all of this.
Unfortunately, as with all good parties, there is always the morning after hangover. When the foreign visitors have gone home and the England squad have returned with the World Cup we'll be left counting the cost for years to come. Hopefully all those angry residents of squalid townships will understand the situation and be patient for a few more years but I wouldn't put big money on it. The cauldron is about to boil over.
As you know this is the last Out to Lunch on Politicsweb. I have been invited to join another website on a more permanent basis and this obviously creates a conflict of interest. I would particularly like to thank Alec Hogg for taking on the column after the Sunday Times editor decided that his readers were too stupid to understand it. The fact that the Out to Lunch column has outlasted the tenure of that particular editor speaks volumes. I'd like to thank the staff of Moneyweb who made me feel very welcome and James Myburgh who has briefly been my editor on Politicsweb. It has been a great pleasure to write for both Moneyweb and Politicsweb. Finally I'd like to thank you for reading it and commenting every week. I've always believed that this is showbiz and any comment, whether complimentary or hostile, is better than no comment. Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.
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