The cheap politics of election years

2014-01-26 10:00

It’s been quite a week for the ruling party, or specifically those within the ANC’s ranks who have proved embarrassing.

First it emerged that the party’s three most senior political leaders in Madibeng swiftly resigned after service-delivery protests in Mothutlung in which police allegedly killed four residents.

Mayor Poppy Magongoa, speaker Buti Makhongela and the council’s ANC chief whip, Solly Malete, quit after it emerged that they failed to implement the recommendations of a task team established by former cooperative governance minister Richard Baloyi to investigate corruption in the municipality.

The task team advised that councillors and senior managers be disciplined and criminally charged for financial mismanagement.

Then The New Age reported that ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu’s personal assistant, Cikizwa Xozwa, and her husband, Bantubahle Xozwa, head of the ANC’s religious and traditional affairs desk, were fired. The party later said they resigned.

The couple owned the company that employed fake sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, who embarrassed the country in front of the world at the memorial service of former president Nelson Mandela.

So far, so fantastic. Many said it was high time that wrongdoers get their comeuppance. The party was getting its house in order ahead of elections. Wouldn’t it be great if the polls could take place every year?

But then we read in the Sowetan on Friday of the “rogues’ gallery” included on the ANC’s list of candidates to Parliament and our hopes were dashed.

The list includes John Block, who has been charged with racketeering and fraud in a case involving the purchase of water-purification tablets by the Northern Cape government at inflated prices.

Then there’s Pule Mabe, who has been charged with fraud for allegedly receiving money irregularly from the SA Social Security Agency.

Then there is fraudster Tony Yengeni, who accepted a handsome discount on his Mercedes ML320 from a company linked to a European arms manufacturer. And Humphrey Memezi, former Gauteng housing MEC, who spent R10?000 on art at fast food chain McDonald’s using his government credit card.

Surely we can be forgiven for thinking that the resignations of the Madibeng three and the Xozwas are simply cheap politics? And that, if you are important enough, it doesn’t matter what laws you break. You’ll still get to Parliament, where all the laws are made.

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