An Upsurge on the Horizon: The Rise of Politricks in South Africa

2015-02-04 22:25

Economic and Political Analyst, Moeletsi Mbeki, may have exaggerated when he said that a surge similar to that of the Arab Spring would erupt in South Africa, suggesting that some few years from now South Africans would revolt against their government in response to its continued failure to respond with urgency to their needs.

This, one must note, was in light of the service delivery protests that had become so prevalent in the country that questions on the lack of capacity in municipalities and governance in local government resurfaced to form part of the national agenda. In the process, lives were lost, property was destroyed, heinous crimes were committed and people were left frustrated. Today, the dust has subsided, but with the drama in parliament and the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), there could be an irrepressible upsurge on the horizon.

Although far-fetched and to some extent overstated, Mbeki’s prophecy of there being a shift in the balances of power in favour of the masses through coercive means in the year 2020 might not be as flawed as it appeared when he first brought the idea before us. The reasons for this are straight forward and are not by any stretch of the imagination as complex as many politicians, political analysts and the media make them out to be.

When President Thabo Mbeki and his administration rose to the helm of the political band in the country, the South African government embarked on a journey that saw South Africa take up a visibly strong position in the global stage, among some of its strengths was the immense contribution the government went on to make in advocating for peace, promoting democracy and brokering peace deals in war-ridden countries, particularly on the African continent. However, although recognized globally, the economic project was not as effective and viable locally.

The ANC-led government, although registering progress in terms of attracting foreign direct investment and targeting inflation, found itself producing thousands of graduates who could not be absorbed into the labour market, leaving a big chunk of them unemployed or employed but not utilizing the skills they had acquired during the process of learning and training.

Fast forward to 2015, Mbeki’s successor, Jacob Zuma has not had it any easier. South Africa’s political and socio-economic woes have escalated significantly under a man whose supposed objective was to come and be a savior for those stuck in the trenches and vying for socialist policies. Zuma, with just over five years in power, has defied and killed the hopes the hundreds of unionists, among them, the largest trade union in the country- Numsa.

Unemployment sits at just over 25%, millions of tax payer’s money is wasted and unaccounted for yearly, municipalities are failing to provide basic services to communities and there is a pool of unqualified personnel in government departments and other state-owned institutions. All of these create public unrest, especially when the captain of the ship is controversial, constantly implicated in corrupt dealings and hasn’t got a conduct that is appealing to the public.

However, what makes the politics of this country unique isn’t so much the challenges mentioned above, but rather the nature in which they are played out- the POLITRICKING, in a nutshell: the tenderpreneuring, mud-slinging, character assassinations, the instability of the state’s investigative bodies (NPA, Hawks) as a result of political interference, lack of accountability on controversial issues such as Nkandla and the Guptagate saga, E-tolling system, the Keynesian National Development Plan, crises in the SABC and Eskom and many other issues for which there is no clear explanation as to why and who’s interests are being protected.

The politricking, if allowed to continue, we will have more cases of what is happening in Malamulele spreading throughout the country, the Economic Freedom Fighter’s radical approach in parliament will arouse a new type of consciousness, poverty and desperation will push many of our citizens into a state of carelessness and lead to an irrepressible upsurge. I don’t know, I could be paranoid. But when it does happen, I will hate to say I told you so.

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