As Parliament Goes Belly Up, the Nation Hits Skid Row

2017-02-15 18:49

Over the past few years our annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) has been a circus. Watching it, and more particularly its prelude, on TV redefines it as a bizarre and dysfunctional kind of “sitcom” - or is it reality TV on steroids? Either way, it makes the Jerry Springer Show seem anaemic and contrived; almost sophisticated by comparison.

Despite SONA offering the world ground-breaking home entertainment the citizens of South Africa will be paying the cost as the democratic principles of their society are shaken to their foundations. Even more importantly, the likelihood of re-establishing a functioning parliamentary democracy and making things work again is fading.

Why has this all happened?

We are witnessing an example of what the controversial essayist Thomas Sowell would describe as “Barbarians Inside the Gates”. The South African government is failing to fulfill its contract with the people and the situation can only deteriorate further as looting and incompetence flourish.

It is time to call into question the viability of South Africa Inc. Will it ever work again?

Don’t let us fool ourselves into thinking that the current crop of elite charlatans and thugs are the cause; they are a symptom. Zuma, the Guptas, the phenomenon of state capture and red bereted buffoons and white shirts in parliament are all manifestations of an ailing system underwritten by unsustainable values.

Far more important is the substance of parliament itself. A legislature that our constitutional court has condemned for dereliction of its duty and complicity in the activities of the nation’s nefarious leadership exposes far deeper dysfunction than half an hour of TV shenanigans ever could.

Its findings in relation to the Nkandla scandal cut to the heart of the problem as they exposed the terminal cancer eating away at our democracy.

It is the system itself and its core values that have enabled such chicanery. The ultimate cause of our woes lies in an inept code of ethics and a willful ignorance of how democracy works. It has been driven by the ideologically delusional cocktail of “the Struggle”, so-called transformation imperatives and a plethora of codes designed to redistribute resources to the inept, incapable, ill educated and ignorant - with racial redress given as justification for all the distortions in human performance.

As a consequence, we have big corporations and government department run by dummies. And a lot of them are very crooked dummies - dummies that will protect their crooked benefactors to the very end.

Although it starts at the top and filters down into the lymph glands of the body politic, these distortions were installed by previous presidents – Mandela included. (Moeletsi Mbeki quipped some years ago in a similar context that “they are like children playing with a hand grenade. Some day one of them will find the pin and it will be tickets!” My concern is - have they found the pin?)

Getting back to parliament - this institution’s desecration tends to mirror other dysfunctions and failures. Prime time TV provided an “aha” moment for much that had gone before. The causes are common and obvious – and all the more so with hindsight.

The nation’s worsening fortunes have since 1994 been avoidable and were predicted at the time by those of clear mind and vision. The first signs were there when the jobless queues started to grow and our state education system headed off down the path to becoming the worst on the planet; it started to come apart at the seams under trade union pressures in the nineties. Since then little has changed and despite many scandals, Sadtu still runs state education.

What followed in quick succession were a stalling, unproductive economy, obscene unemployment, grand scale theft by employees of the state (and many connected with them) and racial preferencing to skew the deployment of scarce intellectual and human resources.

Failure was always inevitable.

And because of our notoriously bad state education system, there is scant light at the end of the tunnel. We are a dumbed down nation trapped in our very own web of incompetence, ignorance and ideological self immolation.

Let us get real. How can parliament ever be expected to work again?

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