Until enough black people have direct line of sight on the economy, being on the president’s side and letting the Guptas’ looting continue is the shrewdest thing an ANC MP could do; it is smarter than voting against President Zuma even in a secret ballot.
As said before, when President Jacob Zuma does something that upsets the economy, white people take to the streets and march. There, they’re surrounded by crowds that looks representative of Mandela’s Rainbow Nation. But South Africa is overwhelmingly black, not racially “balanced” let alone a rainbow with neat, equal colour bands. The missing black crowds will only know what is at stake and fight for it to the extent that the economy is transformed and they have more skin in the game.
This means there are not enough black South Africans backing an accountable government today any more than there were before the Zuma faction arose, and it rose up, in part, because there weren’t enough black South Africans to hold the government accountable then. If Zuma had lost the motion yesterday, there still wouldn’t be enough black South Africans to keep the next lot accountable because the next cabinet is under insufficient pressure by white people to ensure transformation.
Part III will explain why it needs to be white people fighting for economic transformation so that clean governance can stick (due to enough black people then having direct line-of-sight on the economy, and knowing what is at stake).
All of this means voting for a less corrupt president was much ado about nothing. And in case you were wondering why black people who despise Zuma were changing their profile pictures into pictures of Zuma laughing yesterday, this is probably why. Zuma is a symptom. White people are dying to paint him out as the cause, eliminating him and declaring their work done. That will change nothing in the long run; without a thick black middle class, South Africa will fall back into the same corruption.
“Siya, there is no way the ANC MPs thought that through in that much detail!” you may be saying. Okay. How much conscious thought do you put into a fist-fight? Eating? Dancing? Do you keep your K53 handbook next to you when you drive just in case you forget how?
No. You just know. Likewise, politicians just know how politics works whether they can articulate it out loud or not. That is why very little worries them: nothing fundamentally changes in South Africa, though a lot seems to be happening on the surface. Lots of talking, marching and court cases. No transformation. Our politicians would not have to use active thought to figure out what is happening in South Africa until 100 000 white people suddenly marched for economic transformation. Ask me about numbers, and I will tell you of an untransformed economy.
Until something fundamental changes in South Africa, ANC MPs see themselves as playing a game based on white rules. They can never lose that game even if they are caught cheating because there are not enough white people (or the black middle class) to enforce its rules. You can remove the Zumas, the Guptas and Bell Pottingers but until a large black middle class with skin in the game comes into existence, these crooking elements will simply be replaced with another lot like them. Voting them out won’t be the end of the game, just a brief and unprofitable change its players, which, in the medium-term, won’t guarantee a permanent banishment of corruption.
Why, then, should these current MPs not be those players, given that before long, a group no better than themselves will fill the benches? And the only way to ensure a stay in the game is to keep Zuma and his cabinet in the game and not replace them with another lot that will eventually turn out like Zuma but will not hire the MPs who have potentially disrupted their lives to give said new lot the opportunity to hire and fire newbies no better than they are. The sacrifice of shaking the ANC profits absolutely no one but creates a lot of risk. Why fire the only boss you know will hire you? MPs jobs were not at immediate risk yesterday, but with someone other than Zuma as president, you just never know.
Make no mistake about it: those MPs know that a vote against Zuma is not a vote against the ANC. Do not underestimate their political acumen. They did not get to Parliament by being complete idiots. We can throw all the civil societies, media, court cases and scandals we want at government and it won’t change a thing. Navigating those is as simple for them as not being caught off guard when someone comes swerving from around a corner is to you.
It then doesn’t make a difference to power whether there’s a secret ballot or not because the vote may as well be secret to those who could have held the government to account but do not have direct line-of-sight on the economy to know what government is doing.
Thank you for reading, and please catch Part III.
Please share, comment and retweet: SKhumalo1987.
Book should land in mid-April next year.