Blood in the Water - The President and the Shark Attack

2016-02-23 13:29

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water President Jacob Zuma has opened his choppers and caused carnage. His comment that Des Van Rooyen was the most qualified Minister of Finance is not only “Unwise” as the DA diplomatically put it, but extremely dangerous. And it will cause the loss of blood.

South Africans are struggling to keep their heads above water. Weak economic conditions, a collapsed currency and the threat of a downgrade to junk status are some some of the challenges that the country faces in its quest to remain afloat. And there is hardly a citizen who is not aware of this.

The presentation of the 2016 / 2017 Budget is an important one. Probably one of the most important in SA history. South Africans understand and have accepted that its not going to be a pleasant plan and that they are going to feel it in their pockets and wallets. And they have made peace with that. There is a fatalistic acknowledgment that this needs to be done and that resilience will be required. South Africans know that things are going to get tougher before they gets easier if we want to get through this mess.

What makes it problematic is that much of the chaos lies at the feet of the ruling party. The corruption, the wastefulness, the jobs for pals and the mismanagement has been the largest contributor to the current debacle. And we all know this. And yet, because we want to turn the situation around, we are prepared to do what it takes to make that happen.

But here is the deal. There needs to be reciprocity. South Africans need to know that we are not alone in this and that we are not going to be paying for Nkandla twice. We want to know that if we are expected to do without then so too should the very people who are to blame. If more money is go to the government coffers, then it needs to be spent wisely and managed well. We have had quite enough of funding the festivities. South Africans need to be assured that there tax money will be wisely spent.

When the President stood up at SONA he stopped short of admitting being responsible for the right royal mess that he had got us in to. Rather, he spoke economics and he focused on sounding sensible and that sounding committed to the country and not just to himself and the ANC. And he managed to almost convince us.He sounded serious about finally having some grasp on the situation. We might have wanted more (like his resignation) or an apology, or some kind of admission, but for many the fact that he made some sense was good enough for now.

And then he blew it. He spoke. And diverted from the very carefully crafted script he had been given. And he said that Des Van Rooyen was the most qualified of Finance Ministers that he had appointed. Really Mr President? Qualified at what? Seriously? Is this the message that you want to send the people of the country on the eve of this Budget? Is this the message that you want to send the current Minister of Finance, to whom you happily handed the mess?

Surely the Minister tasked with this mammoth task should expect support, commitment and dedication from the President? Surely, given the State of the Nation Address where the buck was so clearly passed to this unfortunate man, that the very, very least that could be expected is tell the people of the country that they should pay attention to what he says. Because he knows exactly what he is talking about. And because he is the best man for the job. And that there is not a person out there who could possibly be better. And even if there was, perhaps, it would definitely not be Des Van Rooyen.

Because if the President doesn’t have the confidence in the Minister of Finance then why should South Africans? Why should Moodys? Why should anyone?

It’s pretty obvious stuff. Simply put, if one spots a fin in the water, one stays on the beach. One shouldn’t need the music from Jaws to remind us to and one shouldn't need to be an economist to know this.

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