Lose the Messiah mentality

2010-03-09 00:00

TO say I’m angry would be an understatement. Frankly, I’m disturbed and frustrated after hearing about Julius Malema’s alleged involvement in companies that have benefited from government tenders and his subsequent denial and claims that his signature was forged. His passion for the poor and his stance against personal enrichment have been permanently erased from my mind.

Then, recently, I read an article about our own city in the Sunday Times which clearly outlined the financial situation of our municipality. To think I supported the bid for us to become a metro. What a joke we have turned out to be. What is interesting is that nothing tangible or life changing for us rate-paying residents has been said to make us believe that something is being done to remedy the situation. It has always been obvious that the jobs-for- pals strategy would come back to bite us and it is unfortunate that it is us on the ground who suffer the most, while the powers that be continue to play games.

I have always believed that our weakness as a country and as a people is that we continuously vote people into power who have turned into corrupt untouchables. Unfortunately, political corruption goes deeper than what meets the eye, as it involves the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Corruption will pose a serious development challenge as it is going to undermine our democracy and good governance if it goes on unabated. Every day there is some scandal about a government official who has done something questionable and, honestly, all these reports have left a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes I think I should stop reading newspapers or watching the news as nothing is being done to correct the situation.

One would have thought our honourable president would be doing something concrete instead of proposing that we have a debate on our moral code as a country. It is very hard to understand how a government official can defend a family member who has secured a government tender and believe that we will not think that “trading in influence” was involved. This clearly refers to a situation when a person is selling his or her influence over a decision or a process involving a third person. We have voting power but not the respect of those we put in power. How long are we going to allow ourselves to be treated like airheads and allow wrongdoing to continue? When are we going to see action to correct the imbalances in our society? We have seen countless service-delivery protests across the country and still nothing tangible has been done. We should win an award for being a country of ineffective committees, as one committee after the other is set up to look into what other committees are doing.

Are government officials not accountable to broader society? Being a small fish in an ocean full of sharks makes it impossible for me to shout loud enough to make a difference, but it is time we made our votes work for us. Our city is in crisis mode but we are sitting back and hoping someone will step in and save us. I’m divorcing myself from this Messiah mentality.

Let’s stand up and demand public hearings about bread- and-butter issues. Why do we continue to vote or serve under an administration that pays its public servants less than R90 000 per annum, whereas we voted people into power who are driving vehicles that cost 10 times our salaries is beyond my comprehension.

United States president Barrack Obama has promised to reduce state spending and save money in the U.S. by not awarding increases for his staff. When will we have a State of the Nation address that will promise this? Salary increments are coming up in July and I can’t wait to see how much the top officials will be getting and how much my 10,5% increase will translate too, and yet I keep voting.

Let’s vote again and make the rich even richer and oppress the poor even further. After all, our leaders have the option of apologising and we are a forgiving nation.

• Nandipha Ngomane works for the Department of Land Affairs and writes in her personal capacity.

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