(South Africa’s ANC has spent hundreds of billions of rand in preparation for the World Cup, writes Nicholas Tucker, with ‘almost none of it’ improving the lives of the millions of citizens struggling with unemployment, reduced wages, poor housing, lowered education outcomes and failing health systems. Will ‘the hard-pressed working class of this country realise how they have been short-changed by the ruling party’, asks Tucker, and if so, how will they ‘express their displeasure’? It ‘may well be too late’ for the ANC ‘to do anything other than to apply force in quelling the rising dissent’, Tucker warns.)
R28 billion spent in the past two years to upgrade of stadiums, airports, another R16 billion to revamp and widen highways, R35 billion for Gautrain, and of course the undisclosed R100s of millions to the Local Organising Committee, certainly with such hefty expenditure to entertain the world at the expense of the poor, the ANC (African National Congress) cannot take any chances that the ‘chattering masses’ will behave themselves. All their detailed planning and event co-ordination strategies of an event of this magnitude, no doubt, gives them sleepless nights, for to visualise every contingent plan requisite under almost any perceived scenario takes both insight – which they clearly do not have – and billions of rand which have yet to be paid for in blood on the backs of the black working class over the next generation.
So, exactly why should there be discontent on the eve of a ‘world-class extravaganza’? Well to start with, the empty campaign promise of 1994, 1999, 2004 and again 2009 of ‘…a better life for all…’, in the face of the reality of rising unemployment, reduced wages, growing squatter camps, lowered education outcomes and failing health systems. Given the 15-year tenure of the ANC as a democratically elected government, given their near-perfect track record of non-delivery, given the extent of expenditure running into literally hundreds of billions of rand in preparation for the World Cup with almost none of it qualitatively changing the lives of millions of citizens, the potential for rebellion and social dissent amongst those ‘ unpatriotic’ citizens can very easily spell disaster for the best laid plans of mice and men.
What contingency plan could the ANC possibly put in place to mitigate the righteous indignation and protestations of a people denied ‘bread, peace, security’? Well, that’s easy – thousands of police and soldiers and of course the ‘old’ Act No. 74 of the Internal Security Act of 1982 been substituted with the ‘new improved’ Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Bill of 2003 that could see the banning of all public gatherings and protests – and that includes the potential banning of all June 16 commemoration services.
The ANC faces an intractable dilemma having squandered vast sums of money in order to beautify infrastructure ‘suitable’ for a handful of transient tourists in order to proudly proclaim our civility and ability to savour the finer things in life, thus revealing their oafish natures and their shrink-wrapped ability to match the consumptive patterns of western culture so evident and readily exportable from the Imperialist countries of the ‘ North’, to the deliberately underdeveloped countries of Africa and in general the ‘ South’ . Now they have to bluster and bully the populace into believing that what they did was for the common good. A devastatingly risky gamble, taken on the assumption that their ‘ historical popularity’ would carry them through yet again, the same dwindling popularity that has consistently returned them to power over and over again in the past 15 years, yet unwittingly squandering the last vestige of ‘credibility’ it had in its ‘goodwill coffers’ in the hope that such a gamble could pull off an amazing ‘smoke and mirrors’ event, bamboozling citizens with non-delivery while alleging lack of resources, yet pulling off a successful World Cup, at huge expense to adulating bourgeois audiences to whom South Africa will be deeply indebted post-2010.
The staggeringly disproportionate expenditure used to create ‘world-class facilities’, when compared against the allocated budgets for social delivery programmes boggles the mind. Will the hard-pressed working class of this country realise how they have been short-changed by the ruling party, and if they do realise it, what are the most likely courses of action that they would engage in to express their displeasure?
Clearly something of this magnitude cannot go unnoticed and surely millions of people will not merely shrug their shoulders and declare that that is life and wander on in their normal state of complacent oppression. How does one reconcile the fact that every second Municipal water treatment plant has ground to a halt as a result of poor maintenance and inadequate upgrades, triggering cholera outbreaks across the country? How does one reconcile the fact that the numerous hospitals across the country are desperately short of adequately trained staff and desperately short of sufficient medical supplies and equipment? How does one reconcile the fact that millions of children engage in an educational system that is largely dysfunctional? How does one reconcile the fact that millions of children attend school on a daily basis hungry and tired? How does one reconcile the fact that some 28 million of our people live in the worst kind of squatter conditions imaginable? How does one reconcile the fact that some 28 million of our people do not have access to clean drinking water? How does one reconcile the fact that some 19 million of our people are still unemployed when we are fed the lie that our economy is stable and will weather the storms of the now evident global economic depression?
We consistently hear the ANC using the term ‘…our young democracy’, purely in reference to voting and elections, as if the notion of democracy has absolutely nothing to do with the resolution of hunger, resolution of all homelessness, resolution of faulty education, resolution of landlessness, resolution of unemployment, etc.
It appears that the ANC through its rapacious expropriation of the wealth of this country from the workers in order to benefit the few elite has by its own actions set in motion a series of events that do not bode well for the outcome of the 2010 World Cup. The ANC does not need clever ‘first world’ risk analysis strategies and complex disaster management scenarios to be painted for them in order for them to understand or forestall the inevitable consequences of an empty stomach.
Unfortunately, for its card-carrying membership, there is no ‘battle for the soul of the ANC’ – its soul is already owned lock stock and barrel by the IMF and World Bank overlords and they do not have the requisite authority to deliver on their ‘promise’ in order to negate those very likely consequences and outcomes of popular dissent and the rising tide of rebellion. In essence they have scored an ‘own goal’ and as such proudly argue that at least they have scored one goal in this game of life.
We expect to hear the standard defence line normally advanced by the ANC government and its sycophants in the face of such spontaneous uprisings, ‘…that they are the work of a third force, who are intent on destroying our fragile democracy’. We may even see the phrase ‘ third force’ been replaced with the word ‘ terrorist’, yet surely, the answer must be less ‘ conspiratorial’ and lie somewhere in the area of the ‘ accepted responsibility’ of a democratically elected government to ensure the adequate delivery of basic housing in order to negate the potential damage and destruction to their precious ‘world-class’ infrastructure put in place for 2010.
In order to mitigate against theft from and robbery of tourists, you do not need to deploy 41,000 more police and 20,000 soldiers, just create more jobs for the ordinary citizen. It is no credit to the government as it finds itself in a situation where it has to quell angry dissent of its own citizens – using revised laws originally created by the apartheid machine – citizens who simply demand what is due to them in the context of their understanding of democracy.
In a nutshell the ANC is an event management team put together for the sole purpose of expediting the will of global capitalism, yet, foolishly have come to believe that their authority and function transcends the rather narrow boundaries prescribed by the dictates of both the World Bank and the IMF and the specific requirements of their global economic strategies, and much like the former regime, it could well be the defining month wherein the dissent you seek to suppress, will swamp the embankments of your sophistry.
Given the above ‘ scenarios’, what the ANC should be focusing on is how best to ride out the gathering storm. But then again, it knows as well as we do, that it may well be too late to do anything other than to apply force in quelling the rising dissent.
Nicholas Tucker is publicity secretary of the Socialist Party of Azania