The enemy of my enemy is my friend

2015-02-03 06:00

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Desperate times are a funny thing. They make enemies of friends, and friends of enemies. And make no mistake about it, we’re in desperate times – so desperate that the only thing standing between us and democratic oblivion could be a friendship between the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the DA.

I know it sounds crazy, but think about it for a moment. Although the EFF and the DA disagree vehemently on ­economic policy, they share a significant and immediate ­interest: defending our democratic institutions.

It doesn’t take much to realise that there is a coordinated assault on institutions that we all cherish. From the Public Protector to the National Prosecuting Authority, institutions are falling like flies in an attempt to protect Number 1.

Between now and the 2019 elections, the EFF and the DA have an interest in using any constitutional means necessary to ensure that a small cabal doesn’t destroy South Africa at the expense of President Jacob Zuma’s pride.

When institutions like the SA Revenue Service become the plaything of the political elite, every South African suffers. And when institutions like the Hawks or the Special Investigating Unit get weakened, that means the fight against crime and ­corruption goes backwards.

When Nkandlagate gets swept under the carpet, it sends a message to every aspiring corrupt politician: “You can get away with it if you’re powerful enough.” For this to change, we need both the EFF and the DA to rally their constituencies in a united fight.

Institutions like power utility Eskom are also fundamental to our democracy. “Load shedding” is a public relations ­euphemism designed to stop us from realising what’s really happening – three years of avoidable blackouts all because the government was asleep at the wheel.

Now, as usual, the Zuma administration wants us to ­believe it was all inevitable. For heads to roll – and the lights to come back on – both the EFF and the DA must hold government accountable at the highest levels.

The problem with the Eishkom fiasco is this: electricity ­affects everything. You don’t just need it to watch Bafana ­Bafana play, you need it to fight crime, to provide water and sanitation, and to keep classrooms functional and hospitals efficient. The crisis at Eskom is not only a crisis of power, it’s a crisis of governance.

Even though the EFF and the DA seem like sworn enemies, they should be mature enough to recognise where they agree. They don’t have to hold hands in public, they just need to realise that they share a common enemy.

If the Zuma-led ANC is taking extreme measures to defend Number 1, maybe the EFF and the DA need to do the same to defend institutions. Whether the two parties or their ­supporters like each other is not the question. The question is whether they love South Africa more than they dislike each other.

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