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No more political excuses

We have officially entered the silly season in our political calendar. Political parties are gearing themselves up for the 2014 general elections. Some political parties that we didn't even know existed are beginning to come out of the woodwork to embark on a charm offensive. We are subjected to annoying sounds of repetitive political slogans that signify little. Those political parties that have remained in our face and been most infuriating and stealing from us, are also desperately trying to appeal to the allegiance of voters by falsely representing themselves as caring and committed to eradicating poverty, creating jobs and so on and other empty promises like that.

All of a sudden, the ruling party has awakened to the realisation that the poor are hungry, in fact that they actually exist. The distribution of food parcels is becoming common practice around election time. The ANC, of course, claims there is absolutely nothing untoward with this vote-buying practice masquerading as social programmes of government. The Minister of Social Development is accused of feeding the masses in wards where the ANC was to contest by-elections in Tlokwe.

This selective humanitarianism of the ANC is obviously intended to seduce the hungry masses into voting for them. It may very well be that this practice of feeding the masses during the electioneering period is an inferred admission by the ruling party that it has failed those whose votes it seeks to attract. It is also an explicit insult to the poor to believe that they can be bought by food parcels once every five years.

A government that is honestly committed to addressing the plight of the poor and that is efficient and effective in delivery of basic services would not have to resort to devious electioneering methods in order to be re-elected. But in instances where those upon whom the people had entrusted with the responsibility to serve fail to honour the existing social contract, nefarious means are employed to remain in power. The manipulation of the consciences of those who suffered in the past had been an effective tool to secure loyalty.

The sentimentalism that had been associated with the history of the ANC struggle against apartheid thuggery and all those warm and fuzzy feeling that were evoked by the mere recollection of the arduous journey we had travelled, are continuing to dissipate under the growing weight of frustration and despondency over corruption and lack of will by political leaders to do what is right.

Over time the people gave the ruling party a chance to deliver and live up to the promises it had made, with the general understanding that Rome wasn't built in a day. But after 20 years of political freedom, there can be no excuse as to why young children in rural villages still have to attend school in mud structures; why there are no libraries and laboratories in schools, never mind the lack of annual delivery of books and so on.

The ANC realises that it is quickly running out of excuses. The people are not blind to the looting of state resources while their material conditions remain grim. A lie has a short lifespan. Empty promises will not continue to hold. Blaming apartheid for incompetency and corruption can only be sustained for a short period of time. The people are now seeking alternatives to the ruling party and want a government that will take its responsibility to serve much more seriously.

It may take radical elements in society to ignite the passions of our people to rise against what they consider to be an unjust and economically repressive government. Opposition parties that have been around for much longer have failed to appeal to the political and economic sensibilities of the millions of people whose hopes have been dashed by what was once a glorious liberation movement. In the absence of a credible alternative, the likelihood of the people reinstating a corrupt and unimaginative government remains a frightening possibility.

It is time for people, in particular the poor, to realise the incredible power they are able to wield at the ballot box in order to ensure that theirs is a government that is committed to altering the ghastly historical legacy we continue live with. Change in some instances comes through the bullet during violent revolutions; and ours should be secured through the ballot, confident in the knowledge that what we do not like we can change. We have only ourselves to blame for the mess that this current government is.

Follow Sentletse Diakanyo on Twitter.