I am sure that I am not alone in my sentiments when I say that South Africans do not know what to do during the 2019 elections. The political class is coming up for re-evaluation, and honestly, what do they have to show for it? Our leaders are all running their campaigns on the victimhood meta-narrative. They are ideologically inconsistent and are toying with populism. The political parties are trying to out-Apartheid one another.
The parties couldn’t be more impractical and out of touch with reality as they fight for the legacy of a mythical, glorious past. Their assumption still seems to be that the biggest struggler yesterday can be the best leader tomorrow – as if the two are related. This is all happening while the rest of us are feeling detached from daily political activities.
I am personally beginning to question the legitimacy of our political structures. Our leaders are clueless and incompetent, and they surely won’t solve any of the problems in our lives. Their existence only guarantees that their palms are greased and that the new poephol that takes over will have an opportunity to steal for himself. In the meanwhile, the rest of us might be able to at least eat some breadcrumbs.
There is no talking of our massive unemployment rate, our declining infrastructure or how we are going to grow local and foreign investment. There is no mention of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is going to affect a country where most of the youth is now out of work, or how our kids are being trained for jobs that no longer exist.
No one mentions that the economy simply cannot grow unless we do not have more access to potable water for our industries. Last year the Cape barely survived a drought and the government can’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation. I would have thought that the civil war in Syria showed the importance of water security, but it seems that we are always too righteous to learn from the mistakes or successes of other nations.
In the rarest cases where there is an economic policy, it is the same old platitudes and buzzwords being thrown around. A dose of racism that lies in the mixing pot with soft nationalism or some of the clueless tried and tested ideas of Franz Fanon, Lenin and Castro. Dilute it with an abstract idea of national unity, mention Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko here and there and you end up with our political parties’ election manifestoes. When bright ideas go out of the way then all that is left is emotional garbage and vacuous statements such as “we deliver for all” or the unending strife for “unity”. It is a clear sign of a confused political class.
To further complicate the situation, it does seem that the practical realities of redistributing the country’s resources are now falling on the ruling party. A while ago the Western powers basically told the ANC to “hey, watch it”. I don’t see why it should be a big surprise that investors or the average South African for that matter doesn’t like having their property taken from them. So, this leaves the ANC with a watered-down reality of land redistribution – unless they are really trying to destroy the economy. I personally don’t see Ramaphosa having the political will for a Zimbabwe 2.0.
The reality is that South Africa is sitting with a leadership that does not have the collective skillset to manage a small town in the Karoo, nethermind a country. Our governmental system seems to be framed in a way that the worst rises to the top, the plunderer, the narcissistic, the inept and the racist. As the 2019 elections are coming closer it appears that South Africans are once again going to shoot ourselves in the foot by electing these benevolent fools.
So, what are we to make of this whole situation?
My view is that South Africa’s solutions will not be found among our political leadership. The people will have to live outside politics if we are ever going to return to national sanity in order to tackle the dire questions that we face. Perhaps it is in the community or the culture that we should investigate, but it surely won’t result from the current political class.
I am sorry for spoiling the euphoria, but the 2019 elections will not be the magic moment that brings us all salvation. If anything, it will be continuation of the status quo, a society that is stuck in a political suspended animation as we run from one clueless solution to another. I will put my cross in 2019 with the growing feeling that it might just be a waste of time. I won’t vote as a pessimist, rather an experienced realist.