We scribes are sometimes accused of being preoccupied with the twists and turns of internal ANC politics and vacuous grandstanding by second-rate politicians keen to score cheap points, instead of focusing on issues that matter.
There is some merit in the charge. Take the Malema soap opera. It had to be covered blow by blow because the man has dangerous ideas and his ascendancy in the ruling party, unchecked, had the potential to bring ruin to the land.
But once Jacob Zuma had landed the knockout blow against the upstart, the news caravan should have moved on. Instead, it has kept Malema on life support as if he were still Zuma’s main challenger for the presidency of the ANC in December.
What has been neglected is news that matters, news such as the implosion of our municipalities, as starkly and depressingly revealed in the latest in Auditor-General Terence Nombembe’s report into municipal administration and finances.
The rot runs deep despite several turnaround plans unveiled amid much fanfare and promise every few years since the presidency of Nelson Mandela.
The only thing that has changed is that municipalities in trouble have increased and the situation has got much worse. We have an unmitigated disaster on our hands. How did it come to this?
Much like some provinces, municipalities have become a cesspool of corruption with ANC local dons seeing them as their fiefdom to be plundered for their financial benefit.
Politically connected incompetents have been parachuted into key posts. Rigged municipal tenders have become a rich vein for crooked politicians and their associates who have amassed fortunes without breaking a sweat.
The poor have been robbed of decent shelter and taxpayers’ billions squandered on unnecessary projects dreamt up to benefit “businessmen” in exchange for lucrative backhanders. It’s been money laundering on a grand scale.
The core business of municipal governance, the collection of refuse, keeping the verges neat, the water flowing and the lights on seems to have become an afterthought. I wish I could say there is light at the end of the tunnel.
But if you were hoping for better days ahead, Zuma’s much-talked-about interview on radio 702 last week would have left you in despair.
He absolved his administration of all responsibilities for its failures and pointed an accusing finger at a long-departed man, Hendrik Verwoerd.
Now Verwoerd was a racist, but even his sworn enemies would agree he was an intellectual heavyweight.
But even a bright man that he was, he can’t possibly be held responsible for the failure to deliver school books to children in Limpopo or the collapse of our municipalities, to name just two recent disasters in governance.
That interview did Zuma no favours just a few months before he seeks re-election to the ANC presidency. It exposed him as a man without a plan to cauterise the wound and stop the bleeding. It again raised the one key question that the ANC delegates privileged to elect the next president of the party and thus the country must ask of themselves: Is Zuma the best man in their ranks to take this country forward?
It would also be relevant to review Zuma’s record in government and check if they can remember any notable achievements that make him worthy of leading our republic.
What a fantastic Sharks victory on Saturday! Talk about comeback kids. To beat the Stormers in their Newlands fortress was quite a feat, which many, yours truly included, doubted could be achieved. Now anything is possible. The Chiefs at home will be formidable, but one can’t help but dare to dream.