ANC’s cache of calamaties piling up fast

2009-01-18 00:00

WITH national and provincial elections looming, we’d better brace for an avalanche of propaganda as political parties crank up the rhetoric in their scramble for votes.

We had a glimpse of what lies ahead when the ANC launched its opening gambit last week. The full- page advertisements in national media followed the unveiling of its manifesto that sounded very much like the manifestos of previous elections.

Like previous media campaigns, the tone of last week’s newspaper ads echoed with a familiar clang that is best described as a mishmash of sweeping statements that drip with “big man” bravado to highlight a shameless propensity for basking in reflected glory.

We’re clearly in for more of the predictable same, with one notable difference — the ruling party has little option but to retreat to the barricades to defend its turf. Worse still, the ANC has been challenged from within, a battle that is far from over since the Cope mutiny.

We suspect that the Achilles heel of the ANC is poor governance, an abysmal record it will be hard-pressed to defend.

There are examples aplenty — the wanton greed and avarice at Polokwane, the limp-wristed treatment of party members who flout the law, the openly corrupt behaviour of both elected and appointed officials, the unseemly scramble for positions at all levels, the organisational chaos in some branches and regions, and the appalling performance of most municipalities under ANC control.

Then there is the arrogance of an organisation that is losing touch with its constituencies.

This is perhaps best illustrated by the name-change debacle in Durban and the city’s loss of its Blue Flag beach status.

In both these cases, the ANC-dominated council and its cowed officials resorted to bombast and rhetoric as it resolutely defended its incomprehensible stupidity.

On a larger scale, things look no less rosy for the ruling party. The Zuma affair is far from over and has already caused enormous damage, and that without the provocations of youth wing leader Julius Malema and parliament’s Sport Portfolio Committee chairman Butana Khompela or short-sighted pronouncements over the ANC president being “100% Zulu”.

All of this is not to say that other political parties are less or more competent than the ANC.

The difference is that the ANC holds the reins, and that the party is judged by its achievements and failures while in charge.

As any strategist would tell you, engaging your opponent in a game where you don’t hold the aces can be humiliating.

Then again, we’re talking about the ANC that is fast accumulating a cache of calamities.

Fashion to the fore.

IT was glitz and glamour at Project Gateway last week when the first intake of students at the School of Fashion had occasion to strut their stuff.

A stunning array of garments was on show at the graduation ceremony in what was a hugely impressive affair.

The event, and indeed the initiative, would not have been possible without the active support of fashion fundi Karen Millen, her British colleagues Maxine Nunn and Sheelah Wright, and in Pietermaritzburg, Sandy Andrews and Di Milford.

Top student Lungi Mbhele was rewarded with a prestigious bursary at the South African School of Fashion in Pretoria, while fellow top achievers Zinhle Luthuli and Phili Mncwabe will help the teaching staff with the new intake

Metal crunch

A QUICK scan of graphs depicting the performance of the metals markets over the past 12 months globally paints a sobering picture of declining output and profitability.

In fact, the graphs exhibit a remarkably similar profile that starts about three-quarters up the vertical axis and moves up a notch or two before declining steadily to a point near the bottom right-hand quarter.

The price of aluminium, for instance, started at $2 500 per tonne, moved to $3 500 and currently languishes around the $500 mark.

Natalie for president

IF ever a role model is needed to inspire the youth about humility in the face of greatness, Olympian Natalie du Toit is the one.

Charming and gracious, she chatted to fellow passengers on a recent flight, signed autographs for children on board, and generally behaved like the heroine she is.

Customer service

IN these days of tough trading, reports of desultory customer service are near impossible to believe.

One of the perennial complaints pertain to staff members answering a phone call and making customers in the queue wait.

This can be excruciating, especially if one is in a hurry. Surely there are better ways of dealing with a phone call and more so when customers are made to wait in the shop?

Dumping of rubbish

THE blue Isuzu bakkie loaded with all sorts of rubbish clearly was in a rush to accomplish its mission — to dump a load of rubbish in Prestbury illegally.

So determined were the two occupants to lighten their load last Saturday afternoon that we couldn’t see who it was.

That is, until after it had done its dumping and we saw CC Waterproofing emblazoned across the front windscreen.

Now we wait to see if the Msunduzi Municipality will take action to have the offending rubbish removed.

Toll road shenanigans

WITH the deadline for public comment on the new N2 Wild Coast toll road expiring on January 22, the lobby group, Sustaining the Wild, Coast (SWC) is zeroing in on a fundamentally flawed development paradigm.

At issue is an unsolicited bid by a consortium of private bidding companies whose primary motivation is profit, and not the bedrock of an integrated and comprehensive regional development plan.

Apart from a litany of public and legal concerns dating back to 2004, including unrealistic mitigation measures — given the capacity of local government structures in the Eastern Cape, the affordability of tolls, and a route through the Pondoland ‘hotspot’ of plant endemism — SWC also draws attention to a seemingly insoluble paradox.

How, SWC asks, can mitigation of negative environmental impacts on a sensitive area be assured if many of the so-called benefits of the road depend on secondary developments that too are likely to have dubious environmental impacts?

And where is the regional development matrix that is supposed to be the prime motivation for the road?

Last word

Half the truth is often a great lie.

— Benjamin Franklin.

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