Mail & Guardian

After the Mangaung and Christmas parties

11 Dec 2012 21:15 | Mpho Moshe Matheolane

The country is on the edge of its seat as the ANC's conference looms. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The country is on the edge of its seat as the ANC's conference looms. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

"Ke Dezemba" is a reference many South Africans use to refer to the festive season as. It's the Friday version of the months, as one tweet read, when people forget to apply logic to anything they do and come out in the new year filled with regret in various forms in January, no doubt the Monday month. Two particular events, similar in potential madness but completely different in meaning and function, will take place this December. From December 16 to 20, the ANC electoral conference will take place in Mangaung. On December 25 is Christmas, a worldwide phenomenon that doesn’t quite make sense to me but has come to be accepted and celebrated, even by the ambivalent in belief. 

In just a few short days, ANC's conference will take place and we ordinary citizens will finally know our fate. I do not mean to sound dramatic with that one but if the recent months and weeks are anything to go by, Mangaung will be anything but a tranquil space for comrades to catch up and compare notes on successful service delivery or the odd tender that went to a cousin or a close cadre with "business interests".

It will, in all likelihood, be a place of last minute planning, careful observation a la spy-versus-spy and considerable referencing to the Art of War and The Prince. Players will have to play their cards of allegiance, while secretly hoping they bet on the right horse lest the consequences of a bad decision be entertained.  

While many of us have a distinct idea of who will be walking away victorious from Mangaung, there will be an equally large stack of hope that some kind of divine intervention pronounces itself during the conference and that by some "Saul on the road to Damascus" miracle, a telling number of these comrades will have something other than political power and patronage as their motivating factors when they cast their votes.

We are told by the ANC over and over again that it is the people’s party and that if anyone wishes to join the ANC, they had better be prepared to serve the people. Actions, as the saying goes, speak louder than words, and boy have they been shouting this past year. Will these actions be accounted for? Will President Jacob Zuma take into consideration the waning trust and faith of the public over the ANC and country which he has led in a manner very far from good?

Additionally I have asked myself if a person who, despite all their obvious shortcomings and involvement in dubious activity, went on to become the president of the country, then what exactly do people believe he thinks when more disturbing facts about his dealings come to light? I doubt he cares, is my short answer, though I think to say he doesn’t care is a diplomatically milder form of expression.

We can therefore only wonder what direction South Africa will be heading post-Mangaung. Will the fight against corruption be carried out in earnest or will we see more examples of the blatant looting of the state coffers? Will textbooks be delivered on time to every school next year? Will Nkandla continue to grow without any transparency over its funding? There are so many questions, many of which are probably rhetorical.

One thing is certain though, the Christmas holiday cheer will offer a little bit of reprieve before the true effects of Mangaung can be felt next year. When Christmas finally comes around we will no doubt still be coming down from the Mangaung high. There will be braais and a suspension of all things related to reality. Many will shout “Ke Dezemba, Ke Dezemba” (it's December, it's December), while they spend money they do not have. Unchecked spending will reign supreme until of course debt, the unwelcome redeemer, patiently saunters in with January, carrying with it the reality of unpaid rent, school fees and uniforms, to name but a few.

Granted, there is still the matter of the Mayan calendar and the current hysteria around former president Nelson Mandela being hospitalised but it has been an eventful year and I for one, am looking forward to the next year when we will all have to get on with it when the party ends.

View the original online publication here