Letters to the Editor: May 06

Our readers share their thoughts on the local elections, the ministerial handbook, Netcare and more.

All campaigns are flawed
The Mail & Guardian‘s political analysis seems to have taken a further dip with your recent coverage of the ANC’s election campaign (“Election set to be a two-horse race“, April 29). In your coverage of the plot to unseat Jacob Zuma (“Conspiracy stuck on repeat“, April 15) you rely on the propaganda of participants in the plot, but a serious analysis requires specialist knowledge and independent thought, scarce in South African newspaper journalism. The campaign is much more easily covered with no more specialist know-ledge than the ability to read press releases and to identify the logos on posters and advertisements.

It is obvious that the ANC’s campaign is seriously flawed, as are those of all the other parties (except Cope’s — it does not appear to have a campaign). The non-ANC parties are running presidential and parliamentary campaigns in a municipal election and thus are talking past an electorate likely to be concerned about real local issues. The DA’s offers of better service delivery are at best nebulous promises (and the preposterous pledges of wannabe-president Helen Zille in impoverished provinces makes these promises almost as dubious as the ANC’s).

Yet the essential failure of the ANC is somewhat different: it represents the incapacity to administer an election campaign under normal conditions, a corollary to the failure of the party’s general internal administration. It is increasingly unable to compel its municipal officials to do their jobs or to compel its electoral officials to do their jobs. No surprise there — this is entirely characteristic of the Zuma administration.

Equally characteristic is the administration’s most effectual response: ensuring that someone who is not central to the Zuma project takes the blame for the administration’s failure. Thus, we are told that Fikile Mbalula ran a good campaign in 2009 and his absence, now, represents a disaster. (Actually, Mbalula ran a rotten campaign of senseless paranoia and empty slogans, which would have been even more absurd under present conditions, when nobody listens to such nonsense.)

Meanwhile, the luckless Jessie Duarte will take the fall for whatever disaster happens. In the Western Cape the hapless Marius Fransman and the laughable Tony Ehrenreich have been set up as the coloured stooges to secure Mcebisi Skwatsha and Max Ozinsky’s Africanists supreme authority after the election. It all makes perfect sense if one sees that the ANC leadership is not concerned with the success of the party, only with the success of their own positions within the party.

What is likely to happen? My own guess is that the ANC’s support might fall to 60% (largely because of abstention) and that the DA’s will rise only to about 20%. (The DA is very foolishly trying to win Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, spreading themselves too thin — it makes sense to do this in a parliamentary election if you have money, but in a municipal election, focusing on winnable municipalities makes more sense.) In other words, we would then be back to a 1994 situation — not catastrophic enough to breed a real rebellion against Zuma at Mangaung in 2012.

If the ANC falls to 55%, however, Zuma (or whichever of the crooks around him aspires to supreme power) might face real trouble controlling the legitimate wrath of the party’s rank and file. — Mathew Blatchford, Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Tyumie Valley candidate

For and against ANC
To present himself as a genuine fighter against corruption, Zwelinzima Vavi adopts a contradictory position that exposes him as a hypocrite, a pseudo-revolutionary and a fake communist. Vavi indicates left but turns right. Vavi says the ANC has been hijacked by tenderprenuers and hyenas. Then he calls on workers to vote for these hyenas. He lambasted the directors of Aurora mines as “greedy capitalists” but says “vote ANC” because it will deliver to the poor.

Let me remind Vavi that President Jacob Zuma’s ANC rejected “lifestyle audits”. Since the 2009 elections, electricity prices have increased greatly and the indigent cannot get electricity free because of incompetent councillors and officials. Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education, and Zuma cronies buy bling cars and sleep in hotels during a recession. Zuma is afraid to take a firm decision on Sicelo Shiceka, the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, and Bheki Cele, the police commissioner. In Ndonda Kusuka, councillors exposed for corruption top the ANC list. Was it not Vavi, Nzimande and Fikile Mbalula, the minister of sport, who put Zuma in power despite his shortcomings?

As long as the head of the state ignores the cancer of corruption it will eat the moral fibre of our society. Zuma has never said a thing about the plight of the Aurora mine-workers. A corrupt ANC does not deserve the vote of our people. — Siyanda Mhlongo, KwaDukuza

Observing newspapers, TV bulletins and radio news, I would have expected to see and hear the message of the ANC loud and clear (“Not your average election“, April 29). But in big and small cities, townships and villages, you will be lucky to be greeted by ANC posters. The ANC looks like a popular football team that has lost form at a critical time, frustrating a huge contingent of its followers. Are we in a state of paralysis? This is a nightmare.

Of course, I am hoping the ANC has an ace up its sleeve. Maybe there will be a last-minute surge by my party. But from where I’m sitting the picture does not look good. I want to sound a strong warning to the ANC and its alliance partners. By the time they read this we will be left with two weeks to the polls. Why the deafening silence? The achievements of the ANC in local government are being downplayed and under reported. We cannot look to the media for sympathy for they are hell bent on showing the ANC in a bad light.

The ANC is the only party genuinely committed to improving living conditions for all. We cannot afford to sell our revolutionary gains so cheaply to the opposition, which has an agenda to continue exploiting the poor and the working class. Wake up, ANC, please wake up! — Timothy Shilubane, Nkowa-nkowa, Limpopo

Nkwamba bakes fudge
Dumisani Nkwamba, spokesman for the minister of public services (“Publishing of Ministerial Handbook ‘illegal and irresponsible‘”, April 29) must be a follower of Shakespeare, given his “much ado about nothing” response to M&G criticism of the secretive handbook. He maintains the document is classified. Is this not typical of government responses to tricky issues? Fudge the matter! — Tony Ball, Durban

Netcare must let law take its course
The SamwuMed board of trustees has deliberated on the matter raised in the Mail & Guardian in “Kidneygate: What the Netcare bosses really knew” (April 29). We are dismayed by Netcare’s actions in this matter and alarmed that the course of justice has been derailed by a deal struck between the Netcare executives involved and the National Prosecuting Authority. Sound corporate governance remains a priority, and one expects one of the biggest healthcare providers in South Africa to take the lead.

SamwuMed has had an agreement with Netcare 911 for some years now — our members and their families use Netcare. We would have hoped that the legal process would take its course, with all parties given their day in court. That a deal was struck leaves all with a feeling of injustice.

We feel Netcare owes its clients and indeed all South Africa an explanation. Business sustainability must be forged with justice and sound corporate governance and not merely lip service at conferences.
We urge Netcare to do the right thing — allow the process of justice to take its course and to take action against the “Kidneygate” perpetrators. — Neil Nair, principal officer, SamwuMed

At a theatre near you
AfriForum’s case against the singing of one of our struggle songs (“‘Boers’ feel threatened by ‘failed state’“, April 15) is a waste of time and our state’s resources. These reactionaries have run to court to score cheap political points. This is not just about the song but is a way to immobilise the ruling party so it can’t campaign in the local-government elections.

AfriForum seeks to perpetuate white supremacy. We have sung this song so many times and yet we have never killed any white man. The spirit in which this case has been brought to court does not promote tolerance among racial groups. — Thabile Wonci, Stellenbosch

Many appear to think that ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema is a fool, an empty-headed loudmouth, no more than an irritating demagogue. But the dangerous farce he has orchestrated in and around the Johannesburg High Court recently ought to dispel such thoughts (“Malema out of tune in court“, April 21).

The presence of non-uniformed and unidentifiable machine gun-wielding bodyguards is disquieting. A court must be open and accessible, a place where interested parties can see justice being done. Six hired gunmen “guarding” the court puts a barrier of intimidation between the court and the public whose interests it is intended to serve. Nothing in this performance was unplanned. Malema and his sycophants intended to intimidate, to interfere with the public’s right of access, and to threaten.

There has been no response from the minister of justice, who is charged with upholding the justice system and the rule of law. There is silence from senior ANC leaders. At the very least, those ministers whose task it is to create employment, attract investment and find ways of boosting the economy must grasp that the image of a toy version of Idi Amin, bullying his way on to TV screens around the world, can only repel potential investors and visitors. — Mike Pothier, research co-ordinator, parliamentary liaison office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

It is said the tragedies of history return as farce, but is this how we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1956-1961 treason trial? This date seems to have been forgotten by the ANC and everyone else, despite all its self-congratulation on Freedom Day.

Now, instead of dignified leaders standing for principle and freedom as in 1961, we have the ridiculous theatre of this fat little goon Malema poncing around inside and outside the court, singing his long-outdated song about killing boers, flanked on all sides by thugs with machine guns like the tin-pot dictator of a banana republic. At his side, we have the thoroughly discredited Winnie Madikizela-Mandela showing off her latest outfits. It makes the drug-smuggling trial of the state security minister’s wife look quite sober.

It is as if the ANC has forgotten that it is in power, that it is no longer a liberation movement but a governing party responsible for the welfare of all South Africans. Malema and the ANC have nothing to offer except nostalgia for the past. Now, tragedy ignored, Malema is staging a pathetic little farce of his own, playing “Leader Leader” while in fact it’s all about his bloated ego and desperate need for attention. When will he grow up? When will the ANC grow up? — Miles Seward, Cape Town

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