Let’s start the countdown to 2024

Douglas Gibson on the year the ANC may finally get its comeuppance

Let’s hope the fire at Parliament does not foreshadow another bad year. It is an uncomfortable reminder of everything that does no longer works. Parliament is a National Key Point of great significance, heavily guarded day and night. Its security, of national significance, and its fire protection must form an essential part of the management of the seat of our democracy?

There will be a full-scale inquiry and one must not be unfair or to jump the gun but the question that must be answered is: where were the policemen who mount a 24- hour guard? Were they sleeping? One observer said the Cape Town Fire Department arrived to deal with the blaze before Parliament’s fire alarm sounded. Was the equipment properly serviced and maintained? Some people stated one could not blame the ANC. The response to that is: who else should take the blame?

New Year is a perfect time to look forward to 2024. In the next two years, the voters will have to decide whether they are prepared any longer to put up with ANC ineptitude at every level of government which is causing the visible deterioration of South Africa.

In the recent local government election that party (still calling itself the “Glorious Movement”) received a significant drubbing from the voters. For the first time in a generation, the ANC vote fell below 50%. There is no reason to believe in 2024 that party will recover. It seems to most observers and analysts that we are heading for a coalition government at national level.

The extent of the disaster the ANC deserves could be lessened by the fact that many rural voters seem disposed towards rewarding with their votes the party that has given them huge unemployment, poor education, sub-standard housing, rampant crime, deteriorating health care, inferior provincial government and abysmal local government.

Some of those same voters remain entranced by leaders involved in corruption at every level and facing criminal trials. Just think of the people who recently had a picnic outside Jacob Zuma’s tax-payer-paid-for country estate in order to show their undying support for this “great leader.”

Zuma may well instruct his fans to vote for the ANC in 2024 as his part of the bargain for receiving a Presidential Pardon; many observers doubt that will save the ANC.

The opposition political parties will have to get their act together this year and next and the coalition governments in the major Metro councils will play a crucial role in persuading citizens that better government is both possible and their entitlement. Why should they continue tolerating corrupt, inept rule by a party that has clearly been in power for far too long?

As I write, we are holidaying at Palm Beach (not Florida, USA, but South Coast of KZN), in the municipality of Ugu, run by the ANC with a majority of 2. It symbolises South Africa. The beach is world class – beautiful white sands, safe bathing for children and a potential tourism bonanza. The municipal water supply has been off for 5 days and tanks are doing their best.

Beach toilets which should be maintained by the council are closed with barbed wire, in a filthy and neglected building and the picnic spot is similarly uninviting. If the voters of Ugu go ahead and vote for the ANC in 2024, they will have only themselves to blame for rewarding a government that deserves drastic punishment.

Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com and his email address is [email protected].

This article first appeared in The Star newspaper.