The Second Transition.....it sounds like the title of a religious painting by Bellini or Titian doesn't it? As I am sure it is supposed to do. After all Mangaung (or Bloemfontein if you still use an old AA road map) fast approaches and it's time once again to dupe the poor suckers who faithfully vote for the ANC every five years.
Unlike the run up to Polokwane five years ago, there is a discernible whiff of dissatisfaction among the party rank and file this time around and it has finally dawned on the ANC bigwigs that the ruling party may not be quite so assured of winning two thirds of the vote at the next election.
Hence The Second Transition, which has been brilliantly spin-doctored to make it look as though all the cock ups and non delivery of the past eighteen years were all part of the plan. "No" say the ANC, "don't you understand? We had to consolidate our political position and now we have done that we can move on to having a look at what we can do for the economy".
Believe it or not I have actually downloaded and read the ANC document on the Second Transition....all 45 pages of it. It's not something I would make a habit of but it does greatly increase my admiration for people like Business Day and 702 journalist Stephen Grootes who has to wade through these documents on a regular basis and explain them to us to earn his salary.
In fairness, it's a pretty well put together and comprehensive discussion paper and has obviously kept its authors up late into the night. Obviously it is left leaning and a tad unsound when it comes to matters of global economics but what else would you expect from a bunch of people who still like to call one another "comrade" more than two decades after the Berlin Wall came down? The question is whether the delegates at this week's ANC Policy gabfest at Midrand have read it and my guess would be that the majority haven't.
Not that this will matter in the slightest because the contents of The Second Transition discussion document are likely to remain just that....the contents of a discussion document. If we have learnt anything about the ANC in the eighteen years since they came to power it is that words speak louder than actions.
The party hierarchy are so busy fighting among themselves, knifing one another in the back and getting themselves in line for the tastiest swill trough that there is precious little time left to actually run the country. And there's very little chance of that changing, Second Transition or not.
Face the facts, the ANC may be very good at many things but running a country isn't one of them. Take the lamentable state of our education system for example. This isn't the first year that textbooks haven't been delivered and it certainly won't be the last so you have to wonder whether the ANC have ever really been serious about educating their people. Perhaps the ANC still regard an educated electorate as potentially dangerous just as the church in the Middle Ages discouraged literacy among the peasants. Once people start reading things they start forming ideas of their own and then you can really get into trouble. Far better that they just do as they're told.
Then there's the South African Police Service. How is it possible to get through so many Commissioners/Generals in such a short period of time? It would be bad enough if this was simply a matter of incompetence but our past two police chiefs have turned out to be just the sort or person the police are there to protect us from.... Not surprisingly there is very little confidence in the police as a result and stories of corruption, incompetence and police brutality among the lower ranks abound. All this has happened during the first transition.
Most worrying of all though is the sleaze and corruption that is associated with the ANC. Hardly a day goes by without some new revelation concerning some well connected scumbag who has just been awarded a tender or absconded with somebody else's money. This is, by the way, not a uniquely South African phenomena so hold the cries of racism.
However, it is something which should be of concern to all South Africans because it impoverishes us all and there is little comfort to be had from knowing that similar things happen in other countries. What we need, but have rarely seen, is the crook getting nailed and being made to suffer for his crimes. That simply doesn't happen.
Dishonest government employees who are plainly guilty are usually suspended on full pay while the law takes its slow and laborious course. Even those loyal cadres who are literally caught with their fingers in the cookie jar are redeployed elsewhere. Crime most definitely does pay in South Africa and when I described the ANC as "one of the largest organised crime syndicates in the country" in a column many years ago I was perhaps nearer the mark than I imagined.
So now the ANC are going to pay full attention to the economy as part of the miraculous second transition. They are going to create millions of jobs, bring millions out of poverty and turn South Africa into an economic miracle. This is precisely what ANC supporters want to hear at election time but the chances of the ANC following through with this ambitious plan are virtually nil.
Not because they don't want to you understand. It's simply because after all the waffle and electioneering they'll be back to their old ways of squabbling, bullying, grand standing and plundering. And faced with the task of turning South Africa into an economic power house with the global economy in such a mess who can blame them? They are, after all, only doing what politicians really do best.....looking after their own interests.
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