Opinion | Covid-19 must be politicised when the ANC’s politics have failed South Africa

Issued by John Steenhuisen – DA Leader
24 Jul 2020 in News

Earlier this week National Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, called on the Democratic Alliance to refrain from politicising the battle against the spread of the coronavirus in the country, stating that: “It’s wrong for the DA to try and politicise Covid-19 responses because the crisis is bigger than any political party”.

While Minister Mkhize may be correct in his assertion that the crisis is bigger than any political party, he is wrong and, quite frankly, impertinent to dissuade South Africans from politicising this pandemic when it has laid bare the deadly effects of ANC politics and corruption over the past decade. While South Africans of all walks of life have united in the fight against the coronavirus, we cannot simply glaze over the fact that our crumbling public health system, and its collapse under the weight of this pandemic as a result, are a direct and irrefutable result of the ANC’s politics and government in our country.

The ANC cannot absolve itself of its corruption, and it cannot expect South Africans to fall into a state of selective amnesia when it comes to the party’s track record in government. It has been 26 years since the ANC came into power. There are no longer any scapegoats for its entrenchment of a criminal state through cadre deployment and corruption which have, over the years, stolen the money meant for our citizens. The ultimate price for the ANC’s politics is now finally being exposed: the very lives of the South African people.

At the Financial Times Africa Summit in London last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa estimated that South Africa has lost close to R1 trillion in corruption over the past decade. To put this into perspective, R1 trillion equates to almost 20 years of our current national health budget of R51 billion for 2019/20. Many analysts have conceded that even this is a conservative estimate if one does a more comprehensive investigation. This excludes the billions wasted on projects from which South Africa has received zero return on investment such as Eskom and South African Airways bailouts, which are dangerous examples of how the ANC continues to flagrantly waste taxpayers’ money on bad investments for the benefit of its party and not the country.

Dr Joachim Vermooten and economist Jacques Jonker of the Free Market Foundation have estimated that SAA alone has received close to R84 billion in total cash and loan guarantees since 1999. After more than a decade of government bailouts, SAA is still in business rescue. Tragically, and astonishingly, government is still negotiating further bailouts footed by the taxpayer. These negotiations are currently underway while residents in the Eastern Cape are fighting over oxygen tanks and waiting for hours in hospital passageways for medical treatment.

A BBC exposé on a Port Elizabeth public hospital’s response to the coronavirus outbreak reported a harrowing account of mothers and babies dying, rats feeding off of red-stained medical waste, and terrified hospital staff on the verge of complete mental breakdown. Nurses report war-like conditions where a job that was once a passion, is now a daily dose of sheer torment, anguish, and misery. The coronavirus pandemic has finally given a face to the ANC’s corruption in South Africa, and it is gruesome, bloodied, and monstrous.

We know that the State Capture Inquiry and the Zondo Commission are living, breathing evidence of just how deeply, and appallingly the ANC’s corruption has ravaged our country. And yet even in the wake of such treachery having been exposed and laid bare for all to see, there are still vultures clothed in black, gold, and green pecking at the corpse of our once healthy and thriving economy. ANC cadres continue to syphon off Covid-19 relief funds meant for afflicted South Africans, the Eastern Cape Health Department wasted R10 million on scooters fitted with emergency beds, and even the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s own spokesperson, Khusela Diko, is alleged to have pocketed a R125 million Covid-19 personal protective equipment contract.

Those who once believed that Cyril Ramaphosa would reform the ANC and morph into South Africa’s proverbial saviour, will be disappointed to realise what many knew all along: that the ANC is beyond saving and cannot be reformed without an internal purge which would cause the entire organisation to implode. After 26 years of ANC government we now know two things: that struggle credentials do not a competent public servant make, and that a liberation movement does not a capable government become. The ANC wants so desperately for South Africa to cling to and remember the days when it was the only answer to our future, that it wants to lobotomise us of 26 years of its bad politics.

And this is precisely why Minister Mkhize’s call for the coronavirus pandemic not be politicised is so ill-placed, because South Africa continues to suffer to this day from the way in which the ANC has politicised our economy, our public service, and each and every part of our society.

The ANC has politicised the public service through cadre deployment which, over time, has eroded the capability of the state by appointing those loyal to the ANC instead of those fit for purpose. The ANC has politicised empowerment policies such as B-BBEE by catapulting a small elite linked to the party and privy to the workings of government into obscene wealth. The ANC has politicised the State by creating a separate economy which runs parallel to government comprised of tenderpreneurs and party hacks. The ANC has even gone as far as to politicise our society, rashly claiming ownership of black thought entirely, and pitting races against each other as a deflection mechanism, all the while collecting, wasting, and stealing tax revenue from the ‘white economy’ that it denounces so vociferously.

South Africa must politicise the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, because it is bad politics fed into a corrupt government that has brought our public health system to its knees and rendered it incapable of saving the lives of our people. The politics in question belong to the ANC and the ANC alone. This is undisputable, unavoidable, and now very much palpable. It is just sad that this moment of clarity has come at far too high a cost: the dear lives of our very people, their families, and their loved ones.

Minister Mkhize cannot distance his government from its politics, when they are one in the same. Ultimately, we must politicise this crisis, because it has shown us, in stark detail, that South Africa desperately needs a different kind of politics to survive. This is especially true when our fight for survival has become desperately and fearfully literal under 26 years of the ANC’s watch. I’m afraid this is the kind of politics that South Africa simply cannot ignore, nor forget.