Thulani Gqirana

Dlamini is the political gift that keeps on giving

2017-03-17 09:01

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has become the gift that keeps on giving - for opposition parties.

Some political parties might still be kicking back and basking in their successes and counting their losses after the 2016 elections.

But for some, the road to the 2019 national elections starts here. And the ongoing Sassa debacle is the perfect spring board.

The vocal Dlamini is a Christmas, birthday, anniversary and 'just because' gift all wrapped into one.

And boy are the opposition parties salivating every time she huffs and puffs without giving straight forward answers.

They rub their hands with glee (and some might even borrow President Jacob Zuma's famous giggle) every time Dlamini skips a meeting, refuses to be questioned or sways in the face of a crisis.

And at the same time, the ruling party keeps slamming these opposition parties for politicising the situation they refuse to call a crisis.

In the meantime, millions of South Africans are glued to their screens everyday hoping someone will tell them exactly where their next pay will come from.

But guess what? This is absolutely political.

We keep talking about the 17 million poor South Africans who will be affected should grants not be paid come April 1.

Now quickly translate that into votes. How could you even for one day expect opposition parties to reject this gift?

This is the rainbow and the pot of gold for opposition parties. 

Even the smallest possibility of people not getting their money is enough to build a slogan around, and a campaign that will paint the government, and in turn the ruling party, as careless with lives of the most poor.

Because, when you take it down to basics, it is about the individuals.

This crisis [yes we continue to call it a crisis] is about the grandmother who has to make the R1 500 stretch for 28 days, then lives on Grace until the next pay day. Every time this granny hears that a solution has yet to be found, the stress of wondering who she will turn to keeps her up.

She is busy doing sums that don't add up right now, even as President Zuma says Dlamini hasn’t failed yet.

For the child who has to take care of a houseful of siblings, what is not a crisis to government is a nightmare to him.

These are the people that opposition parties are now talking to, every day; people who will remember that they spent endless days in March 2016 reading newspapers daily and listening to radio bulletins in the hope that someone will provide direction.

Someone who will give them something a little more than "your grants will get paid".

This, dear politicians, is a crisis of biblical propositions and will be the true litmus test ahead of the official campaign season.

Our government needs to stop showing up to fix the country three months before elections.

Voters have long memories. And their red pens are out. Show us who is boss.

- Thulani Gqirana is a parliamentary reporter for News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    bathabile dlamini  |  sassa  |  social development
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