Dennis Pather
Dennis Pather

Political analysts a dime a dozen

By Dennis Pather - Tongue In Cheek Time of article published Jan 5, 2020

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Despite South Africa’s appalling job crisis, it never ceases to amaze me how creative and enterprising many work-seekers have become.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, so if there are no formal jobs on offer, don’t creep into a corner and sulk - go forth and create new ones.

Before democracy, it was very rare to see car guards on our streets, yet today, they are an increasingly ubiquitous feature.

Apart from guarding our precious vehicles, they also offer optional extras - like washing your windscreens even when they’re spotlessly clean; helping push your trolley to your parked car and directing traffic during load shedding because our traffic cops think it’s too menial a job for them to perform.

What about this new category of opportunists called “outsourced contractors”? In days gone by, uniformed workers employed by the eThekwini municipality took care of our roads, potholes, street marking, refuse removals and pipe leaks.

Today, those tasks are performed by workers hired by so-called outsourced contractors, many of whom seem to work at a snail’s pace to earn extra overtime and often leave a job half-done so they can be hired a second time.

If you happen to be an early riser, there are also opportunities at government buildings like Home Affairs, vehicle licensing offices and even over-crowded hospitals, where queues are notoriously long and slow-moving.

All you need to do is secure a seat close to the front of the queue and when you sense frustrations growing over the slow pace of government bureaucracy, sell your coveted spot to the highest bidder.

Democracy has also played its role in delivering job opportunities in the public sector. In what government euphemistically calls “cadre deployment”, thousands have benefited from jobs in government departments and parastatals - provided they were card-carrying members of a certain political party.

Going further up the job scale, an army of exorbitantly-paid consultants were taken on to do the work the government’s own appointed executives couldn’t or wouldn’t.

Also in this category were many appointed as spokespeople of various ministries. What the job called for was a gift of the gab and the ability to persuade people that although a bird might look like a duck, swim like a duck and quack like a duck, it was not necessarily a duck.

But I deliberately saved the best for last.

Here’s where a new species of professionals called “political analysts” have suddenly emerged on our front pages and TV screens to guide us through the tangled web of gobbledegook, double-talk and innuendo served up by our politicians.

Like the mythological Oracle at Delphi, they claim to be a source where all questions have tangible answers and all problems, solutions.

Trouble is, our political analysts are a dime a dozen these days.

Every Thomas, Dikgang and Harrypersadh is claiming to be one.

For my part, I’m sticking to reading tea leaves. No sugar please, just a pinch of salt.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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