Cross it out
Claims of huge bribes, fevered meetings between leaders of political parties, angry letters to newspapers by readers who feel robbed of their democratic say: yes, it’s floor-crossing season once more.
“The effect of floor-crossing on South Africa’s political landscaping is bound to be detrimental insofar as it attacks democracy at its very core by making politicians less accountable for their actions and undermining the concept of ‘representation’,” wrote one Mail & Guardian Online reader.
“This piece of legislation has grossly been abused by greedy and self-serving public representatives,” wrote another, adding: “How do we continue to convince the voting public that it is still in their best interest to go to the voting booth and participate in future elections?”
Institute for Democracy in South Africa research shows that 1 100 public representatives have switched sides since the inception of floor-crossing in 2002. The African National Congress (ANC) has been the big winner, taking control in two of the country’s nine provinces previously out of its reach.
Predictions are that this year’s floor-crossing period is set to see further fragmentation of the opposition, with the ANC taking in the bulk of the defectors. This does not contribute to a healthy opposition, and the situation certainly isn’t helped by this week’s news of a Cape Town councillor reportedly offered the Democratic Alliance’s Western Cape leader R200 000 in cash and a woman in a floor-crossing bribe.
It might well be time to cross out floor-crossing, which has become a political embarrassment.
|FULL SPEED AHEAD||NOT SO FAST|
In his book Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela wrote that he and a young Oliver Tambo joked that “perhaps someday there would be a statue of us” instead of the one of General Smuts near London’s Westminster Abbey. This week his wish came true—and Madiba still had the humility to dedicate it to all South Africa’s struggle heroes.
South Africa’s National Lottery is still floating somewhere in government limbo, despite promises of its “imminent” revival. This week, reporters were told not to ask Trade and Industry Minister Mpahlwa about the issue at a press briefing. Perhaps the minister was tired of pretending to know the answers?
August 23 to 29
1. Mystery surrounds ‘diamond’ as big as soccer ball
Mystery surrounds the reported discovery of what might be the largest diamond in the world. The stone, found in an unnamed North West mine, is believed to be twice the size of the world’s biggest, the Cullinan.
2. No takers yet for R2,2bn Indiana lottery prize
No one had come forward by Monday morning to claim the only winning ticket for a $314,3-million (R2,25-billion) lottery jackpot sold near the Indiana-Ohio state line, lottery officials said.
3. Madisha claims ‘border on hypocrisy’
South African Communist Party (SACP) chairperson Gwede Mantashe has reacted to a statement made on Wednesday by Congress of South African Trade Unions president Willie Madisha that he had handed over a R500 000 donation to SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.
4. Huge security scam rocks Parliament
Crucial security functions at Parliament, the South African Revenue Service (Sars), the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, two parastatals and several big private companies are in the hands of a firm with a history of corrupt practices, the Mail & Guardian can reveal.
5. Manto fails to make the grade
The African National Congress (ANC) came out in defence of embattled Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang this week, reiterating its confidence in her ability to “implement the policies of the ANC-led government in working to achieve better health for all”.
6. To lash or not to lash?
The ANC plan for party secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe to interview dismissed deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge is a compromise between those who want her disciplined for her comments about the ANC president and those who feel she should not be sanctioned by the party.
7. Sacré bleu! Mbeki and Sarkozy?
A high-stakes diplomatic poker game is unfolding between South Africa and France. Last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Senegal and Gabon, two former French colonies, where some of the 11 000 troops France has garrisoned across the continent are still visible almost 50 years after independence.
8. Zim rescue plan a non-starter
The economic rescue package for Zimbabwe, touted at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Lusaka last week, is a non-starter, economists and political commentators argued this week.
9. Mbeki ‘hypocritical’ on Madlala-Routledge money
The African National Congress government is ruthlessly extracting every cent it can from former deputy minister of health Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Democratic Alliance (DA) health spokesperson Mike Waters said on Sunday.
10. Manto ‘being set up as another Oscar Wilde’
The Sunday Times is trying to turn Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang into a public figure destroyed by scandal like Oscar Wilde, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Wednesday.