FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: Cheap politicking has expensive consequences


So the EFF says it will disrupt the State of the Nation Address if President Cyril Ramaphosa has not fired Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan by then.

Let us imagine that the party successfully blocks the president from announcing his government’s new year resolutions. What happens next? How does it all solve the problems we have as country?

The answer is that it won’t. Removing a politician, no matter how convinced you are of how bad they are, is not in itself a plan. You only need to look at how the removal of former President Jacob Zuma has changed very little.

South Africa can hardly afford simplistic thinking such as finding a scapegoat and sacrificing it.

The country is on the edge of a fiscal cliff and to have individuals concerned about personalities and their own short-term happiness at the expense of anyone and everyone else, is simply callous.

It is spit in the faces of those who have suffered as a result of the economic meltdown that has been steadily getting worse in the last few years. It is to make light of the pain of that family that has lost its house; the university student who had to drop out and that man and woman living with depression since their retrenchment – all of these because the economy is simply doing badly.

You might as well laugh in the faces of those unhappily becoming too accustomed to a hard life.

This is to say, cheap politicking has expensive consequences.

Whether Gordhan stays or goes might address the agenda of some political party or faction, but if it does nothing for our ailing economy, then it is hollow.

To spend time and energy on the question, regardless of where one stands on the divisive issue, is frankly a waste of precious time and energy.

South Africa’s energy or state-owned enterprises’ problems are not going to vanish just because one man has been removed from the helm. After all, these problems were there long before the person now deemed responsible for all the failures of these establishments was appointed to the position.

To blame Gordhan for load shedding is to be ahistorical. Load shedding first hit South Africa in November 2007.
It will be disingenuous to pretend that the corporate and political leadership of Eskom does not matter. If the political head is not up to the task, then he must go.

To keep him for factional reasons is as bad as wanting him out for the same reasons.

As a country we must “adult”. We must stop seeking simplistic answers to complex questions such as why does load shedding happen and what are the realistic solutions and how long until they are implemented.

This, however, cannot be seen in isolation from broader government policy and practice that has seen the country being sovereign rating downgraded to junk status by two of the three main ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch.

At the rate some people think this is high-school debate, it is only a matter of time before the other ratings agency, Moody’s, joins the fray and adds South Africa to the list of nations on its speculative grade – the nicer term for junk status.

If you cannot see that our challenges as a nation are greater than whether Gordhan goes or stays, then you have proven why you are not just bad for your political party, but dangerous for South Africa’s future.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.