Sold short by the ANC

I recently attended the funeral of our nanny and housekeeper. Winnie was 54 when she died. She had worked for me since 1987, when my youngest daughter was born. She retired for health reasons three years ago.

She came from the Eastern Cape, lost two children to illness and an accident, and brought up her remaining daughter, who is now employed in my neighbour’s business.

She saw her last days out in an Orange Farm RDP house – a small four-walled structure with electricity, piped water and a flushing loo. The area has a complete absence of planning, infrastructure and maintenance: a slum in the making.

The funeral was a dignified event and in many speeches the ANC was praised. I wondered: What for?

Winnie worked in the private domestic sector. Her employer paid for her daughter’s education, provided a home for them, gave her a decent pension, attended to most of her medical expenses and paid a fair amount towards her funeral.

Winnie died in relative poverty, in the prime of life. We voted together, she and I, in each democratic election. But all she ever got from the government she supported, by way of material stipend, was title to a structure that is a minuscule brick shack in an area destined to decline. And she was one of the lucky ones.

As I bade Winnie farewell – Hamba kahle, Akuhlanga lungehlanga – I wondered whether her spirit would have wished for more – more for herself and her daughter in the new dispensation she cherished.

The graft-ridden, neoliberal agenda championed by the ANC over 21 years sold Winnie short. Government officers’ cronies have benefited yet all essential services – electricity transport, infrastructure, postal, housing, job creation, health, pensions – are in a sad state.

I’m sure Winnie is not celebrating our country’s acquisition of Gripen fighter planes we can’t fly or submarines we can’t maintain. She won’t be celebrating the frequent absence of electricity, that will keep her daughter in relative darkness for years to come, or the hugely expensive and dysfunctional e-tolls, or our president’s irregular diversion of public money to his private homestead, or a largely lawless police force.

North of our borders, Zanu-PF swept to victory in 1980. By 2010, 30 years later, Zimbabwe’s economic decline led to an inflation rate of 231-million percent and an unemployment rate of more than 90%.

Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund revised its growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 to 4.9% from 5.8%. South Africa’s growth was reduced to 2.1% from a previous 2.3%. Unemployment is at a 10-year high. Our Gini co-efficient is huge.

It’s alright for some: South Africa’s Cabinet is the world’s largest (35 ministers and 37 deputies), with a salary bill of some R150-million. Germany has a much bigger economy and a bigger tax base, but a Cabinet of 16. Japan’s Cabinet is 16; and the United States’s is 15.

I wonder how Winnie’s daughter will vote in the forthcoming elections. I know how I will vote.

Ghaleb Cachalia, chief executive and founder of Mentisfactum, is a consultant and commentator

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders