Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers his 2017 Budget speech in Parliament. Photo: GCIS
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers his 2017 Budget speech in Parliament. Photo: GCIS

Sad state of our divided nation

By Leader Writers Time of article published Feb 26, 2017

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Long after we’ve felt the effects of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2017 Budget speech, gaining or losing a rand depending on what he said about our tax affairs, the pettiness of the applause that preceded him to the podium will be with us for a long time to come.

While the opposition, especially the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took delight in their protracted standing ovation for Gordhan, much to the chagrin of those calling for a revamp of the Treasury, the true state of our nation unravelled before ours and the eyes of the world.

We saw what we have become, a House divided, in more ways than one.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa hastily took to social media to hang our dirty linen in public. His Facebook post said: “#2017Budget. Pravin’s Colleagues snubbed him. The Zupta point persons sat down whilst the rest applauded Pravin. They include Ginger, Banxilile, Mahlobo, Van Royen”

It would tickle our funny bone if it wasn’t so very sad.

The television cameras duly panned to cabinet colleagues Lindiwe Zulu, Bathabile Dlamini, David Mahlobo and Des van Rooyen who sat stony-faced amid this fanfare of applause for one of their own, Gordhan.

You’d swear they were at a different venue that demanded a sombre mood.

The governing ANC and, by extension, the country, is at war with itself. Factionalism has ripped what essentially works better as a unit into two opposing camps. Some at Luthuli House have had the courage of their convictions and had the gumption to point this out, that factionalism rends us apart.

The EFF was merely playing politics and leveraged this disunity to maximum effect on Wednesday, cheering Gordhan not because they agree with his numbers. They did so because it riled their political opponents who cannot wait to see the back of Gordhan, who they accuse of being what they assume to be an anti-transformation agent at Treasury.

Those who argue from the opposite camp say Gordhan is a nemesis of those in the ruling party who’d like free passage to the trough.

They see the finance minister as a stumbling block to this looting frenzy.

Our body politic is ruled by one shallow mantra: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Irrespective of the content of this new friend’s argument, he is welcome among my coterie if he sees my enemy through the prism of my eye.

The national discourse has sunk to total banality. The Guptas are sudden angels because the banks are guilty of cartel-like collusion. It is no longer important that they have tried to run the country from Saxonwold.

They are good because the banks are bad.

Brian Molefe is sworn in and becomes an ‘honourable’ member of Parliament

and those who point out the little matter of his citing in the “State of Capture” report are enemies of progressive politics, virtually foes of the state.

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo is lauded for his vision and splashing out R6 million on a statue in honour of President Jacob Zuma in Groot Marico. This is viewed as a patriotic duty even when it makes no prudential sense.

Any opposing view quickly lands the bearer in the bad books of those who see the world through opaque glasses they mistakenly think offer crystal clear perspectives.

We ran an opinion piece by Mathews Phosa in our Dispatches pages last week - a marketplace of ideas where thoughts are pitted in contest, wherein he repeated the call for President Zuma to step aside.

This predictably attracted vitriol from the president’s son, Edward, who took umbrage at Phosa’s insistence on his father quitting and thereafter, outside our pages, an ugly public spat ensued.

One was then “a little piece of vomit” against the other who became a “traitor”.

According to Edward Zuma, Phosa is not qualified to opine on the state of the ANC or the country as all the former party treasurer does is to “service his long-time master, Johann Rupert”.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is an argument steeped in myopia. This is not what the architects of a new South Africa countenanced when they sacrificed their lives for this new dispensation.

We say here and now - this is not our kind of journalism.

This is not how we write news. We’re newsmen, not a clique.

Independent Media

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