South Africa's Doomsday Clock

2016-02-28 14:23

Some years ago I travelled on business to Zambia. I had scheduled my meetings 1.5 hours apart and had a serious number of people to see. Only it didn’t go as planned. Hardly any meeting ran on time and I became increasingly frustrated by the situation. It was unfathomable to me that no one seemed to take my schedule seriously. By 6pm on the 1st day, when the lunch time appointment arrived I could hold back no longer and voiced my irritation. The response I received was one I will never forget, “God,” he said, “Might have given White men watches, but he gave us Africans time.”

But as the Doomsday Clock representing South Africa edges closer to midnight, I wonder if that wisdom still holds true.

The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic one. It represents a countdown to possible global catastrophe. It was conceived in 1947 and is advised by a panel of experts who set the clock as close to midnight as they perceive disaster to be. It has nothing to do with South Africa in of itself, but with the irresponsible and dangerous behavior of SA leadership, the citizens of the country cannot help feeling that we are today as close to midnight as country can be.

The tension between President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is now public knowledge. Last week’s attempt by the President to discredit Gordhan by suggesting that the “Weekend wonder”-Van Rooyen was the best qualified Minister of Finance he had chosen might have been school yard attempt to do insult and to hurt, but it was very clearly an important insight into the view of the President.

And then we find out, that six days before Gordhan is to deliver arguably the most critical Budget Speech in the country’s history, that he received a letter from the Hawks demanding he answer 27 important questions with regard to an investigation. It goes without saying that anyone finding this little gem in their postbox with a “If undelivered please Return to Hawks” at the back of the envelope has to be somewhat unnerved, thrown or downright floored by the stress of it all. All at a time that the country was holding its breath in anticipation of the event.

The fact that Gordhan continued to prepare and deliver the budget is quite unbelievable. And although I thought that the budget lacked courage, the man delivering it certainly didn’t. He clearly realized that if he didn’t do so, he would have condemned South Africa to a very very painful few months.

In stark contrast is our President, who is quite clearly content to move the hands of the Doomsday-Clock closer to midnight. He did what he has always done when faced with a challenge. He gathered his troops and sought to discredit and destroy his perceived opponent. In this case Gordhan. All the the expense of the country.

If only he put as much effort into saving the country.

If only he cared more for the people of South Africa.

If only he would resign.

There is little doubt that with this latest fiasco South Africa is on the brink of economic disaster. The President has made sure of this. The clock is as close to midnight as its going to be. We can only hope and pray that the ANC recalls the man before the final seconds tick.

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