Poor votes: Politicians knows very well that without the poor vote, they are very much poor themselves. Unfortunately until the masses learn that without accountability, there’s no reason for politicians to keep their own promises. The most dangerous thing for the voters especially the poor is to allow politicians to govern without the fear of losing power. During election campaigns politicians praise the poor for being “there” for them despite the “challenges”. The controversial food parcels and t-shirts are the main enticement for votes. Once the votes are secured, those heroes disappears and some accuse the poor of laziness. Opulence for political leaders is a familiar sight. Voter’s vote for various reasons, including service delivery, sentimental, factional and so on. Hence we see the interesting phenomenon in which most people, poor and well offs continue to entrust politicians with their votes irrespective of unfulfilled promises. Similarly people join politics for various reasons that have nothing to do with “serving the people”. The rise of political killings illustrates how desperate people are to climb the political ladder.

Public Facilities: Imagine politicians and their families using public facilities like schools, hospitals etc. It does not sound real. One wonders why is fine and well for politicians to run those facilities but not good enough to consume them. Take Aaron Motsoaledi Minister of healthy for instead, he sometimes goes to government hospitals for treatment. That’s commendable after all he’s the minister of healthy, but the fact remains that he has a choice to use both private and public hospitals. A choice which most of his supporters don’t have. He gets the best attention at the public hospitals, if every person got the same treatment as he does our public health system will probably be the best in the world. He can go to Tembisa or Tonga hospital and make it look world class. The NHI is purported to be the dosage that our public system desperately needs. Hopefully it will narrow the existing inequality in our healthy provision.

Education is another sector in which the politicians are happy to administer and to change the curriculum as they deem fit without consuming it. Their children are sent to privates schools but the poor masses have no choice but to use those public facilities. The argument that a 30% pass rate caters for those who are challenged academically to me is misguided. It does not make sense to expose and waste people time for twelve years by subjecting them to a system that they are not equipped to deal with. Those 30% kids must be channelled to an education system that will empower them with skills they can comprehend and excel in. Is only fair to note that the background of the 30% leaners is not homogenous and not everyone fails because they are simple not good at it. For instance, how much of the 30% are going to school with empty stomachs that resulted in poor academic performance?

Careerism in politics should be embraced and guided accordingly, but instead is being shunned especially by career politicians in the name of minimizing infightings. Deployment guidelines and minimum pre-requisites for choosing premiers, presidents, MMC’s, MEC’s and Ministers should be developed. Off coarse leaders must choose their preferred teams to work with, but their prerogative must be within clear parameters. Comrades must be deployed or “EAT” to look after their families, in the absence of proper and transparent deployment tools, factional groupings to capture state institutions will persist. Am not sure whether the narrative that politics is about “serving the people” or a “calling” is true. What is true is that politics comes with rewarding perks that feels stomachs very well. Comrades must serve where they have the requisite skills. To arrest the stomach antipathies, parties must abandon slate politics which in turn will help to kill factionalism. We often hear leaders “condemning factionalism with the contempt it deserves”. This type of shallow condemnation of factionalism by leaders who are elected through factional slates is futile.

Contestations must be transparent and all those who aspire to lead must contest and campaign overtly. When factions within political parties contest elections on slates is a recipe for disaster for any organization. Defeated slates comrades are often overlooked in deployments goings-on irrespective of their competencies. They often retire early or get lost into political wilderness, some flip flop and join the governing faction. Few go back to strategize for the next election. Once the list fights or election dust is settled, the victorious slate must “take care” of those who advocated for them in their quest to attain state proximity. Political deployment and tenders are often the reward. The quality of the victorious slate individually is often left unchallenged or scrutinized, which in turn weakens the party and state bureaucracy. Being high on the list represents good deployment prospects hence people do everything possible to be enlisted. Politics is no longer a death sentence in South Africa anymore but a highly rewarding career. This necessitate change in deployment strategy because people now join politics to “serve” and “eat”. As former ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama alluded, “I did not join the struggle to be poor.”  In defense of a lucrative BEE deal!

By Sivodlo Silombo

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