Rogue’s gallery of candidates for general election
South Africans go to the polls almost exactly four weeks from now. A lot has been written about the next election. It is all over the news.
Everyone has an opinion, and everyone who is eligible, and who bothered to register, has the right to vote.
One of the stand-out features of the election is the veritable rogue’s gallery that is lined up, and calling “pick me, pick me”.
It calls for a willing suspension of disbelief to accept that so many terribly odious people are repeatedly called upon, or put themselves forward, to lead the country.
There are convicted criminals, people accused of violence against women, thugs who have violently attacked political opponents, and very many people whose lives, and the lives of their families, have been built on pillars of cronyism, nepotism, prebedialism, hand-outs and corruption.
They are all lining up for more, and heaven help us if they do not make the cut.
Let us start with a local lad. In 2018, the ANC’s Andile Lungisa was convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, after he smashed a glass water jug over the head of Democratic Alliance councillor Rano Kayser during a council meeting in Nelson Mandela Bay in October 2016.
Lungisa will not go quietly, but he may have to be collected and deposited at the nearest prison sooner rather than later.
Let us go national. Take a pick from ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, Mosebenze Zwane, Jessie Duarte or any of the cadres deployed to run state-owned enterprises.
Magashule has been implicated in mass-scale corruption and fraud during his tenure as premier of the Free State. None of the charges have been proven – in time all will be revealed – but the allegations, and the supporting documents, make compelling reading.
Yet he remains at the top of the ruling party’s organisational structure, while evidence suggests that he maintains a grip on the Free State.
We probably have to let investigations proceed.
It is worth reminding ourselves that Magashule has played a fairly central role in putting together the ANC’s list for parliament, which features the likes of Malusi Gigaba, Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane, who have been tainted by scandal, found responsible for maladministration and implicated in some form of corruption.
It gets really seedy the further one goes down the ANC list.
Let’s leave the ANC for now, and look at a couple of (former) cadres. Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who, at the behest of former president Jacob Zuma, became chief operations officer of the SABC, has started a political party, and wants to become president of the country.
Motsoeneng is a tragic and comedic figure. He played a significant role in the collapse of the SABC. Almost everyone who cares to pay attention knows the sordid details of Motsoeneng’s professional life.
He is asking people to vote for his African Content Party, and make him president of South Africa.
Another cadre, Jimmy Manyi, who presided over the New Age newspaper and ANN7 television channel – which he acquired, presumably above-board, from the Gupta family – now wants to bring his leadership vision and steady hands to the presidency of South Africa.
Across the aisle, there are the Economic Freedom Fighters, and from somewhere in the land are the Black First Land First movement.
A lot has been written about the EFF, and a lot more about its main leaders, Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu. They were, after all, in the ANC youth league before they started the EFF.
Malema has yet to fully be investigated for his role in corruption and maladministration in Limpopo province, and how he became extremely wealthy.
He and Shivambu have to, also, account for their role in the collapse or the drain of finances from VBS Mutual Bank.
Malema’s scapegoating of whites and people of Indian heritage has yet to be examined – but it seems we cannot rely on the Human Rights Commission.
The HRC, like the South African Police Service and the country’s criminal investigations and prosecutions bodies, seems scared to touch Malema.
His deputy, Shivambu, has insulted and physically abused journalists.
Malema wants people to vote for the EFF, and make him president of South Africa.
Out on the fringes of politics is Andile Mngxitama, who would be funny if he were not so terribly dangerous.
His absurdities are matched only by his crude scapegoating of white people – white people everywhere in the world and across history.
A week or so ago, he blamed climate change on white people and racism.
Over the past weekend he boasted about his friendship with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The rogue’s gallery is vast. Any number of characters can be listed.
In all of this, it is hard to find a candidate on the list whom one can trust, unequivocally. But if the voters are in a quandary about who to vote for, imagine having to keep a lid on the ruling party in the coming weeks.
We’d all best strap in, close our eyes and hope for the best.