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SAFTU calls for the return to the politics based on principles and not current politics of convenience and opportunism in our parliament!

Minister of Public Enterprises Hon Pravin Gordhan delivers budget vote 2019. Pic: ParliamentofRSA /ZKostile

Nothing demonstrates more than the forever-unending parliamentary drama and circus that the ruling class politics are in turmoil.

SAFTU has noted with concern the continued degeneration of our country’s politics to politics of convenience, palace politics and outright opportunism in parliament. This in our view continues, not just to undermine the bourgeois parliament, but is a practice that has turned the majority of voters away from parliamentary politics.

The recent elections indicated that any of the parties in parliament does not inspire the majority of the citizens to want to participate in our democracy that is so foreign to them. This slide to the politics of convenience and elitism is one of the biggest threats to our hard-won democracy. The main victims of these politics are the black working class who are now the hardest hit by in an economy on its knees. At the face of this is the ravaging poverty, unemployment and inequalities the black working class is subjected to.

The Thursday, the 11 July 2019 fracas in parliament was no way an isolated incident but served as a reminder of these palace politics of convenience and does little to bringing politics closer to acceptable standards. These ruling class elitist politics is far removed from the ethics of our people, which is based on respect. These politics are not based on advancing the interests of the marginalised poor majority. We believe that at the center of these shenanigans is positioning different factions of the ruling class to get closer to the feeding trough and to maintain the status quo.

This is our observation of the trends that have been unfolding for years now!

1.    ANC has long abandoned the politics of principles in favour of politics of convenience and stomach!

The ANC strongly supported the appointment of the current Public Protector probably when it was convenient for them to do so. They did this even though some in parliament and even members of the public were protesting and raising concerns about the suitability of the current Public Protector.  The ANC used its majority and rammed down the throats of the country the current Public Protector!

We are somewhat not surprised that the ANC, who was pushing for the appointment of the Public Protector, is now questioning her suitability. This is opportunism at its best. Make no mistake, no incumbent occupying an important Chapter 9 institution must be allowed to sit in such office if the incumbent does not conform to the higher oath of office.

However, here is the principle that is being lost:  All individuals appointed, after due established processes, as Public Protector once they assume that position must be respected. That’s what the Constitution dictates! They are the face of a Chapter Nine institution, which is an essential cornerstone in our checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution. It is the office they occupy that matters, not the individuals. As SAFTU we would be the first to acknowledge that individuals in high office are fallible and gullible.

We are not saying that the country must endure seven-year term of the Public Protector even when there is overwhelming evidence that they are not suitable. If they are clearly not suitable, the Constitution is very clear of what process parliament must pursue in instances like that.

On principle, SAFTU will oppose the removal of the Public Protector if this is based merely on her making adverse findings against either the Minister of Public Enterprise or even any member of the executive, including the President. In this Constitutional Democracy of ours, every citizen is entitled to review, through the courts of law, any adverse finding, which is at oughts’ with the Country’s Constitution. Such however must be pursued in a principled manner and must not send a message to the public that the politicians found on the wrong side of what they preach are abusing their power.

2.    The DA is not acting in a principled manner either!

Recently a former Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene resigned after admitting that he misinformed the country on his dealings with the Gupta family. This admission cannot be in anyway equated to the gravity of the Public Protectors’ findings.  The DA was one of the first political parties who welcomed Nene’s resignation.  Further, they said: “The minister’s conduct, taken together with the fact that he is likely to be the subject of at least two on going investigations, which will drag on for months, now risks compromising public confidence in National Treasury.”

Today this “continued investigations” and court action are not risking “compromising the public confidence”. Why this inconsistency?

The Public Protector has also found that the Minister of Public Enterprises violated the executive ethics code by “deliberately” misleading the National Assembly for failing to disclose that a member of the controversial Gupta family “may have been” present at the meeting in 2010. We understand that the Minister disputes this verdict and insist that he did not lie but had forgotten that he met the Guptas. We further note that this matter is the subject of an urgent court interdict launched by the Minister of Public Enterprises.

However, still, the question that we ask is, would the DA have accepted an explanation that Nene had forgotten a meeting with the Guptas? We do not think so because the politics of convenience and elitism governs the attitude of the DA.

3.    Economic Freedom Fighters is also not consistent and is not leading by example!

The EFF was one of those parties that strongly supported the appointment of the current Public Protector. We accept that the EFF subsequently expressed its regret for this support and have now apparently accepted that the current Public Protector must do her job unhindered

SAFTU supports the stance taken by the EFF that the President should not have appointed the Minister or at least should have offered an explained why he is appointing him despite the adverse findings of the Public Protector.

We recognise that there is seemingly a divided legal opinion on whether the Public Protector remedial actions get suspended at the point the appeal is lodged or only once the High Court has set them aside.

However, and to make matters worse, our President simply ignored or did not answer to the broader populace why there is no response to the Public Protector’s remedial actions. This is simply wrong!  This makes a mockery of the whole campaign of the so-called thuma mina and a so-called new dawn. Suddenly there is no difference between how the ANC under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma treated the previous Public Protector and how the ANC under President Cyril Ramaphosa is treating the current Public Protector.

Having said this, SAFTU is however surprised that the EFF is not taking its fight to the person who appointed the Ministers, which is the President Cyril Ramaphosa. Why? Why being so vociferous against the appointee and not the appointer?

Ministers do not appoint themselves! This unprincipled stance by the EFF dives into the abyss of the politics of convenience and palace politics.

Secondly, more importantly, why is the EFF so opposed to Pravin Gordhan when the current Public Protector has issued adverse findings against another Minister appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current Minister of Transport? What about the previous Public Protector remedial actions that have not been challenged and set aside in court against the current Minister of Police? Why the double standards? Why not walking out of parliament or move to President Cyril Ramaphosa in an unprecedented and threatening way when he delivered the State of the Nation Address for being a/and or appointing a “constitutional delinquent”?

We call on the EFF to be consistent. It they walk out against Minister of Public Enterprises then it must walk out every time any one who has been condemned by the Public Protector speaks. The Public Protector in October 2012 issued adverse findings against the ANCYL President who is currently the President of the EFF.  

Our people are crying out for principled politics. Any principled political stance knows no strong men, no race; no any other factor accepts the truth, and only the truth!

We call on all political parties to return to the politics of principle and move away from the politics of convenience, elitism and palace politics that make these parties so inconsistent and so incoherent. The parties should not be surprised when trends continue of voters not trusting any of the political parties in our parliament!