We ain’t got none
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Oudtshoorn. 4 March 2012. 10h20. There is this treasured tale, se non è vero, è molto ben trovato*, that can ultimately only be fully appreciated in Afrikaans.
During the Bush War of the 70’s and 80’s the then Minister of Defence, PW Botha, was due to visit an operational base somewhere very North of Windhoek.
The Sergeant Major who ran the vehicle park at the base used to pester his CO about a continued threatening spares shortage to keep the engines of war operational. And so the CO told the sa’majoor to share his concern with the Minister during the inspection. And the CO set the sa’majoor up well, introducing the VIP visitor to the Adjudant personally.
The poor sa’majoor grovelled in the presence of the mighty Minister under the bowler and had to be prompted by his CO: “Het jy enige probleme, sa’majoor?”
“Nee; niks nie”, kommandant.
“Wat van onderdele, sa’majoor? Het jy genoeg?”
“Oorgenoeg van alles, dankie kommandant.”
The incredulous CO then replied: “Wat van ‘spares’, sa’majoor?”
“O! ‘Spares’!? Nee G… ek het f…”
Cut off is South Africa; its provinces; its metro’s; its municipalities, both district and local; and its communities for lack of leadership, as Young’s Literal Translation of Hosea 4.vi reads on knowledge. Destroyed, says the KJV and the NIV; my people was still, the Wycliffe Bible and the Douay-Rheims.
Oudtshoorn has lacked progressive leadership since the unanswered efforts, probably, of Sipho Kroma in the days and months after 1994, when the ANC was a political organisation with whom only naïve diehards and ideological junkies could differ.
Although the quite brilliant ANC intelligentia outsmarted, outwitted, outfoxed, and outmanoeuvred the best the thwarted Nats could muster at Codesa, the unanswered expectation of a promised land by majority vote between sunset and sunrise on April 27, 1994 bedevils us to this day as politicians continue to over sell and under deliver.
A former ANC stalwart recently told me what I have often heard and as often scorned – that he and his youthful cronies walked white neighbourhoods before April 1994 choosing the mansions and the cars that would be theirs for the taking after the first democratic elections ever in South Africa. And he recalls the pain still, his current maturity and position nontheless, of that dizzy unrequited foretaste.
Blacks feel still they have given too much – complete forgiveness at the TRC; whites feel still they have given too much – “everything”. Whites still think Blacks want everything for nothing; Blacks still thinks Whites want to retain everything.
And perception, as we all know, is reality.
Behind the prestidigious logodaedalia of soi-disant politicians speaking for re-election, we’re failing dismally.
Education is the supreme management tool to address social needs and wants and problems, and we have, last year, succeeded in delivering 9 out of 100 starters in 2000 to the gates of universities, some with risible results hovering around 30 and 40%
Local Governments are, bar lower single digit exeption, cesspits of inability and maladministration.
In Oudtshoorn, where I live and work and play, the Council, run by a grade six graduate currently up for theft of municipal property, has racked up a R26m cashflow deficit; cut the capital budget by close on 50% in its Adjustments Budget; and awaits a commercial bank decision on a R40m long-term loan which it, ludicrously, believes will solve its problems.
This is a Council that appointed a Municipal Manager in August 2007 to spend R2m investigating his management outrages some 18 months later; fired him; re-appointed him with R1.5m in backpay; spent R2m defending the derisory decision in court; and terminated his contract with a R1.2m golden handshake 80 days after the ev entual R1.5m payout. (The Council won the Court case to re-appoint! And I am not making this stuff up.)
This week last Council had to defend, at enormous cost to ratepayers, in the Western Cape High Court, its questionable appointment, in January, of a Municipal Manager and Director Corporate Services.
And Oudtshoorn is a municipality with no money even to maintain infrastructure – the Council is R94m behind in upkeep spend.
Nationally, our rail servies and health services and electricity services and road services are in tatters. Several departments at provincial level is under administration.
We have to accept that the ANC has failed spectacularly.
The ANC only governs because the unsuspecting, trusting masses can be ceaselessly swindled by huge black physiques in sartorial splendour, sporting huge black sunglasses, arriving sporadically in huge black SUV’s, making huge obtenebrating promises destined to huge fuliginous failure.
And it seems, horribly so, that the ANC has no intention whatsoever to uplift these poor voting cattle herds for fear of having the poor sods waking to the scent of social java and the wherewithal to suspend its support.
The DA is quite cleverly exploiting this felonious ensorcelling; this putrid political reality, for conspiratorial gain: It ignores uncomfortable political skirmishes and hand-picks campaigns for expediency, secure in the insolent knowledge that those left quite scandalously in the lurch will have no choice but to support the party in any and all elections – come what may – to avoid a strenghtened ANC.
The current political states of affairs in Western Cape municipalities such as Bitou, Oudtshoorn and Swellendam, to name but a few, speaks eloquently to this outrageous ‘strategy’.
The ‘strategy’ screams the incomprehensible: Let’s not provoke the ANC too much; let’s do just enough to irritate Luthuli House, and to placate our longsuffering afeared supporters, but not so much as to aggravate the comrades into DEFCON 1 – that would mean a lot of hard and difficult work.
It appears even as if some of our ‘leading political thinkers and commentators’ subscribe to this mealymouthed pussyfooting.
In By, a Media24 Saturday supplement, of February 25, the guru journalist, and one of my personal favourite local thinkers, Max du Preez, criticised AfriForum for activities that may potentially distance “die wit en Afrikaner-minderheid” from the rest of South Africans.
AfriForum’s being and doings aside, we need bold people with in your face arguments and actions. For if your message is not in their face, they just won’t bother.
This pitious proffer (Afrikaans: jammergattigheid) amounts to political contemptuousness of rather astounding intensity and is imperilling the very footing of democracy.
Do we have intrepid political leaders in South Africa?
Yes! Plenty! Zuma and Zille and zillions more!
Sê weer, sa’majoor – het jy genoeg ‘spares’…
* Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato (if it is not true, it is a happy invention) was, apparantly, in common use in the 16th Century. Giordano Bruno (1585) uses it such; Antonio Doni (1552) used Se non è vero, egli è stato un bel trovato. I learned se non è vero, è bene trovato from an ancient Italian gentleman I was priviledged to know. I then discovered that the Czech writer, Karel Capek, used it frequently.