Disc Dem

Disc Dem

Friday, 30 October 2015

EFF Steals a March on #FeesMustFall

The EFF has proven that a week in politics is a long, long time. In a masterstroke of political opportunism they have stolen a march, both literally and figuratively, on the #FeesMustFall campaign with a vitriolic and fundamentally racist call to disenfranchise the entire white population. Student activists will hopefully recognise this for what it is, just another political entity with an unrealistic agenda making impossible promises. The real problem does not lie with white people, but with a political system that is unaccountable to the electorate, and undeniably corrupt. Taking money away from rich (read white) people in such an unaccountable and corrupt environment will only result in even greater profits for Breitling, Gucci, Mercedes Benz and Chivas Regal. 

The reality is that the reaction of all political parties to the #FeesMustFall student protests has taken the lid off the can of worms that our political system has become.  It is painfully transparent that South African politics today is solely about politicians and their parties (again, both literally and figuratively speaking), with none of them having any real regard for the needs and aspirations of the people.  This was underscored by the Parliamentary vote, supported by the DA and other opposition parties, to carry on with their daily shenanigans regardless of the student protest unfolding outside Parliament.  The EFF employed their usual response of throwing the toys out of their cot until they were dragged kicking and screaming from the “Headmaster’s” presence.  Only when the DA’s Maimane woke up to an opportunity to score political points did he suggest that President Zuma & Minister Nzimande go outside to address the students – too little, too late.

Student protesters also saw through the naked political opportunism of the EFF and DA, who were rightly sent packing when they tried to insert themselves into the limelight under the pretext of being main protagonists of the students cause. 

But is it really only about higher fees? Some commentators have suggested that #FeesMustFall is an outward expression of a deeper dissatisfaction that our students have with overall prevailing political and social mores. They have seen through the BS of political promises across-the-board, and are no longer prepared to just accept it.

So why do we, supposedly more mature and experienced people, continue to accept the BS dished out to us by politicians of all persuasions? We have suffered above-inflation increases in our municipal costs year in and year out, and crazy increases in the price of electricity, yet we do nothing. E-tolls stirred some out of our normal apathy, yet the "marches against corruption" have barely raised a ripple of concern among the political classes.  Parliament has turned into a toddler’s sandbox, and municipalities are a disaster. We accept sub-standard service delivery from DA run entities because they are deemed to be "better" than the ANC alternative. The whole political system is rotten to the core. Political parties have subverted the constitution to their own selfish ends, and the people are forgotten.  

What more proof is needed than the latest budget speech, where a huge chunk of our money will be used to pay the bloated public service sector above-inflation increases on top of already unjustifiably high salaries? Jobs that may actually deliver services are frozen, yet the Municipal Demarcation Board is busy creating more political positions for councillors by increasing the number of Wards for the 2016 local government elections. None of which will remain unfilled.  Not forgetting that local councillors are lobbying to be paid the same obscene amount as our ineffectual and corrupt parliamentarians.

This is one of the very few times that I wish I were a student, with enough comprehension of the political landscape to understand that nothing less than a complete overhaul of the political system will provide me with the long-term future I desire and deserve.  Once the BCom/BSc etc is done and dusted, the reality of living with taxes, mortgages and bills sets in.  Our risk threshold gets lower, and our disappointments turn into apathy.  I meet so many people of my generation that say “I agree, but you can’t change it”.  This attitude will eventually creep into present day student protesters unless they recognise the danger now, and channel their energies into making a real difference to their long-term future.  My own future is mostly behind me but I will help them to realise theirs, if I can. The longer-term message is that the current crop of politicians has caused our problems, but a newer breed of politicians can solve them.  The short-term message is that if we do not demand change before the 2016  local government elections, then we will face another combined 8 years of same-old, same-old.  Five years of too many councillors and not enough workers and another 3 years of the parliamentary sandbox.

The ANC, DA and EFF in their current guise are not the answer. They are all too entrenched in the prevailing system of cadre deployment to make the quantum leap from self-interest to community development.  None of them wants accountability to be introduced.  If they did, they would have already suggested that Constitutional changes be made to the electoral system. Look behind the symptom that is embodied in #FeesMustFall, and you will see that all our problems stem from political elitism founded in a lack of accountability.

We need to demand the changes that will bring accountability back to our political landscape, and we need our young people to lead the charge.   My message to our future leaders is that your #FeesMustFall campaign, while admirable and successful is, to quote Winston Churchill, not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. 

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