The first draft of this article was headlined, “ANC and SA falling apart.” Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court gave a judgement affirming the supremacy of the Constitution and, in effect, ruling that even the ANC is not above the law. It changed my gloom to a feeling of hope.
This judgement rejected delaying the local government elections and refused to allow the reopening of candidates’ lists, which had to be lodged by 9 pm on 23 August. This is hugely detrimental to the ANC which, pathetically, failed to nominate candidates across a large swathe of the country. The DA managed to lodge its lists for every ward and every PR position in every council in South Africa.
The ANC ran out of funds, failed to pay employees and stole their money by not paying deductions over to SARS, the UIF and pension funds for months and years. The employees struck, leaving the ANC unable to comply with the legal deadline for nominating candidates – a disaster for any party but surely unique among governing parties in the world.
I survived in South African politics for more than fifty years by being an optimist. In the darkest days of Apartheid, I knew somehow that our country would not go over the cliff. And so it proved for decades. Recently, that changed. No matter what it is, wherever the ANC has a finger in the pie, lies a mess. Almost everything that is supposed to work in a constitutional democracy is not working. The Concourt, for the moment, seems to be the exception.
Incompetence, corruption, arrogance are the hallmarks of government from the local level to the cabinet. Everything has deteriorated; we have become used to shoddy service – or none at all. DIRCO handles our foreign affairs; I dialled them eight times over one and a half hours on Friday morning. Each time, after endless ringing, the voice told me that the subscriber I had dialled was not available: “Please try again later.”
Try getting something from Home Affairs like a certificate of no impediment (a certificate showing that he is not married) for a South African wanting to marry a Thai woman. You will be told that it will take eight months. Eleven months later, still no certificate. The same with unabridged marriage certificates. You can wait a year. Home Affairs is permanently on strike. Each of these simple requests should take no more than ten minutes to complete. Minister Motsoaledi is useless.
Try renewing a firearm licence or your driver’s licence. Several hundred thousand people await appointments. The transport minister and the Gauteng MEC say corruption is the cause and promise their new scheme will wipe out the backlog. They are both useless. If they were not, this situation would never have happened.
Take DNA testing. The December 2020 backlog was 117000. It is now 173000. There are thousands of rapists and other criminals roaming free because there is insufficient evidence to bring them to Court. Minister Cele and the SAPS promise a turn-around. Why did they let things slide despite the DA concern in Parliament since 2019? As seen during the looting spree, Minister Cele is useless.
The ANC is falling apart. They cannot run their party properly or be trusted to run the Liliesleaf NGO honestly. How can one expect them to run our towns and cities and our country properly? Is anyone surprised that there is a feeling that the Concourt and our Constitution are the only bulwarks left?
Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com.
This article first appeared in The Star.