How the cookie crumbles

2010-05-08 14:10

In all the heat about the race for the provincial leadership of the ANC now under way in Gauteng, how much have we heard about the province?

Do you know what incumbent chairperson Paul Mashatile plans for Gauteng, the province responsible for a sizeable chunk of the national wealth? As party leader, what are his plans to grow the economy?

How does he plan to tackle the urbanisation that has made Johannesburg, the province’s growth node, the most unequal city in the world – and one of its most dangerous too. What of his challenger, the premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, who has not been nominated by a single region of the party?

She has been an energetic workhorse of a premier but her bullying qualities have not made her political friends.

In all the greedy heat and lobbying of both factions we have not heard how she intends to rid the Gauteng ANC of corruption. Or of her plans to imbue it with an always elusive unity.

Instead, the Gauteng race is symbolic of the ugly style of politics bruising the ANC as ­factions get behind the leader they think will allow them to accrue wealth through crooking tenders.

This race is not about politics or service or ideas or democracy. It is about who will control the hands that control the lid on the cookie jar.

The same nonsense explains the painful political paroxysms in Mpumalanga, where politicians fear poisoning and where Latin American-style political ­assassinations are now common; in the Northern Cape, where the provincial chairperson, John Block, is in a similar two centres-of-power tussle with Premier Hazel Jenkins, and in North West, where the warring factions are laced through the civil service and the provincial cabinet to create a near standstill in delivery as they fight each other.

As David Makhura, the party’s provincial secretary in Gauteng noted recently, our politics are being Americanised, where money increasingly is the piper that calls the tune.

Incumbency is abused to despoil opponents – note Mokonyane’s strategic ­release of an anti-corruption report which damned Mashatile’s administration on the eve of the conference.

The only way out of the logjam is to break the stranglehold of party politics on ­government.

We need to have a mixed electoral system where at least some of our representatives are chosen directly by us, the people.

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