Editorial: Dance derails true governance

South African politicians are doing ever more dancing on one leg.

In Mogale City, as we report this week, there have recently been lie detector tests and resignations among the DA members of the municipal council, in the aftermath of a motion of no confidence that saw DA mayor Michael Holenstein (in office since last year’s local government elections) ousted, with questionable votes, possible back-stabbing and so forth included.

This should be seen against the background of a political process in which a vote of no confidence threatens the president – the opposition (within and without the ANC) seeks to dislodge Jacob Zuma from his presidency. Hence, too, the Constitutional Court battle to decide whether the speaker of the National Assembly may or may not allow a secret ballot in a no-confidence vote, a move the opposition believe gives it more of a chance of success if ANC MPs, in particular, are allowed to vote secretly.

But the Constitutional Court decision won’t make any difference to the strategic focus of unseating Zuma: it’s up to the speaker to decide, said the court. And the speaker, being Baleka Mbete, is unlikely to allow anything that would lead to another challenge to Zuma.

Basically, it’s all a lot of politicking, in which long-term issues are not being dealt with, or barely so, because a host of short-term battles have to be fought in the interim.

The Economic Freedom Fighters threatened Jo’burg mayor, the DA’s Herman Mashaba, with a vote of no confidence soon after he took office last year; the ANC, having lost the poll for Nelson Mandela Bay last year, said it would raise one against mayor Athol Trollip, the DA’s winner there. Neither of those votes came to pass, but the threat of them is wildly waved about.

Can South Africa’s politicians not see that citizens would like to see them get on with governing, rather than endlessly dancing on one leg?

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