Local government elections are here and, judging by the wild violence we see these days, it is apparent that what inspires people to be so ruthlessly single-minded about occupying positions of power across our political landscape is unappeasable greed, and access to power.
The stinking rot is as clear as daylight.
You become a councillor, you are able to influence who becomes municipal manager (and senior managers leading the municipality). You gain this influence, you are able to guide the direction in which lucrative tenders should go. You are able to influence tender decisions, you are able to enrich – to thank, as it were, the people who burnt things down, and intimidated, injured and even killed people … all in a steadfast quest to see you in council.
The last part of the preceding paragraph is not a simple one. It is its very complexity that has seen sections of our country catching fire, literally.
It makes the whole thing an existential battle – either we take power now and ‘eat’ very fast, or we are going to be side-lined.
Instead of the desire to provide clean drinking water and electricity and housing and jobs and so forth, factions are consequently enthused by the possibility to snatch control of resources, and to quickly enrich themselves, their cronies and families.
So it seems to me quite unavoidable that flames torching our capital will become habitual, a way of life, unless things change radically.
Let me admit that those of us who are not members of the African National Congress, the ANC, must be careful not to want to run the organisation on behalf of its members. These people – there are less than a million of them according what their president reported during their last National General Council – come together from time to time ostensibly to examine things, to decide on the way forward, and also to determine for themselves who should lead them.
So when they decide, for instance, to bring in a mayoral candidate who was not even on the list submitted for consideration by members of the region, and when in turn that decision causes the capital to go up in flames because members essentially don’t believe they have a listening leadership, we who are not members, must accept that it is the way the glorious movement of the late OR Tambo elects to do things.
The squabbling, sometimes fatal but almost always destructive, must now be accepted to be the mechanism of preference when the ruling party has differences and problems to resolve.
There is, however, a problem here, a problem evidently too trivial for the ruling party and its members.
The buses and the trains they burn when fighting among each other, the roads and libraries and schools they destroy … all these things don’t belong to them alone. They belong to the society at large. They are meant to make life better and easy for everybody.
But how come, I wonder, in their quest to resolve problems which are strictly internal, how come they feel emboldened to ruin public, non-ANC properties?
If their desire to destroy is that extraordinarily strong, why do they not go to Luthuli House and burn it down? I do not sponsor anarchy but it is after all the ANC against the ANC here, not the ANC against SA. Or am I confused?
They have less than a million members. It means the vast majority of the citizens do not carry ANC membership cards. So when this ‘minority’ upset one another in their organisation, what stirs them to destroy public property so shamelessly?
The answer, for me, is simple.
It is because we are irrationally determined to be violated by a party led by a layer whose preoccupation is gluttony, a layer whose determination is to enrich their friends and families.
This is a direct indictment on us the citizenry, because we go on as if we do not have the power to remove those who are obviously corrupt and under-performing from office.
And so when the capital city and other areas go up in flames, and life as we know it is muddled, and people die, we must accept blame. We must accept the blame because it is you and I who freely return them to power, election after election.
*Ed Note. Maruping is an independent commentator. Visit other media platforms for his works.