OUT TO LUNCH
It’s nice to know that we South Africans are not alone when it comes to near farcical politics. I’ve been watching events in the USA and have come to the conclusion that the Democratic front runners hate each other more than they hate Donald Trump and the Republicans. I suspect part of the problem is the time it takes to elect a new US president.
The whole show kicks off almost a year before the election with something called the primaries. This gives candidates plenty of time to work up animosity towards other candidates as we saw with Elizabeth Warren’s further cutting down to size of “Mini” Mike Bloomberg during a recent debate. It’s hard to imagine these people belong to the same political party and is hardly an indication that they could all work together in the highly unlikely event that they win the election in November.
Front runner at the moment appears to be the geriatric Bernie Sanders with fellow geriatric Joe Biden just behind. The relatively youthful Elizabeth Warren at only 70 years old is trailing badly in 4th place but it’s still early days and it aint over ‘til the fat lady sings apparently.
“Mini” Mike Bloomberg is reportedly throwing $2bln of his own personal fortune towards his campaign; an investment that has yet to yield a return. This circus goes on until June and then it’s simply a matter of seeing which of the geriatrics can stay alive until polling day.
Bernie has a dicky heart and Joe’s memory is going (he now remembers that he wasn’t actually arrested leaving Soweto on the way to Robbens(sic) Island to see Madiba). Meanwhile the Republicans must be chuckling away and regarding the next election as already in the bag.
In the UK the process of electing a new Prime Minister is much more straightforward and, assuming the political party has already elected a leader, then the whole thing can be done and dusted in a few weeks as Boris demonstrated last year. This left the Labour party looking rather feeble and unloved so they have been going through the tedious process of electing a leader to replace the outgoing swivel eyed loony Jeremy Corbin.
At the time of writing it looks as though Sir Kier Starmer QC may have the unenviable task of rebuilding Labour’s reputation as a serious political party. For a while it looked as though Corbyn groupie and fellow swivel eyed loony Rebecca Long-Bailey was in with a chance which would have been wonderful news for the Conservatives. However it now appears she is out of the race and proving a bad loser by badgering Sir Keir to reveal who is funding his campaign. Another fine example of unity within the party.
The common denominator between the Labour party in the UK and the Democrats in the US (apart from the internal cat fighting) is that they have both moved significantly to the left over the past five to ten years. As election results show, the voters aren’t fooled and they know full well that the extravagant promises made by left wing politicians have to be paid for by someone.
Corbyn was promising free broadband as part of his election manifesto last year. He reckoned it would cost around £20 billion which he proposed to pay for by taxing the more productive members of society. More like £100 billion said a prominent tech industry insider who one thinks might have a greater grasp on reality than Corbyn. As far as the USA and the UK are concerned the days of extravagant and unbelievable promises winning votes are long gone.
Unfortunately we are light years away from reaching such political maturity in South Africa. Last week, with their usual gift for comic timing, the EFF decided to bring the whole of Sandton’s business district to a halt as they demonstrated against Eskom’s load shedding bringing the whole of Sandton’s business district to a halt.
I have to say that they have been hugely successful and there has been no load shedding since their march on Eskom. I’m just surprised that other political parties didn’t think of this first and, instead, messed around with confusing stuff such as raiding our pension funds to get the balance sheet back on track or splitting the company into three divisions.
It takes political visionaries like the EFF to come up with a proper plan and, as we all know from experience, the simplest solution is often right under our nose. Clearly marching on Eskom and demanding an end to load-shedding is the way to go and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this cure all solution isn’t applied more broadly now we have seen how well it works. For example, we could march on universities and demand that they provide free education, three meals a day and a guaranteed degree. Or has that already happened?
Frivolity aside, one would have hoped that people who sit in parliament as our elected representatives and draw a salary of over R1mln a year plus perks would have come up with something a bit more cerebral than a march on Eskom to sort out its problems.
If our default reaction as a country is to march, set fire to buildings and bring the economy to its knees when various interest groups don’t immediately get what they want then we are in for a rough time. Surely the whole point of government is to try and find solutions?
Like the voters in the USA and the UK the voters in SA will eventually wise up and no longer trust the empty promises and antics of the ruling party. That poses two questions. Would the ANC go quietly and would the alternative be any better? Judging by Ace Mgashule’s comments on supporting the thief in chief Zuma (© A Donaldson) I wouldn’t put too much money on the former.