Home FleetWatch 2011 Comments by Patrick O'Leary It’s election time but where’s the Ministry of Common Sense

It’s election time but where’s the Ministry of Common Sense


Hooray. Its election time again. Isn’t this wonderful? Every South African – except anyone with even a vague liking for Jan van Riebeeck who, according to our esteemed President Jacob Zuma is the cause of all our woes – is going to get a free house, free water, free electricity, free food, free education, a free car, free petrol, a free truck, free diesel, free land – and of course, everyone is going to get a job. Whoa, I nearly forgot – and free beer. Yo-yo-yo!!! South Africa is the place to be. I know of no other country in the world where citizens are set to get so much for free. It’s fantastic. To paraphrase that famous man Winston Churchill: “Never was so much given to so many by so few from so little.” We are all so lucky to have politicians who care so much about the ‘people’ whose votes they are trying to get. Yeah sure! Now if you believe that you’ll believe anything! It actually sickens me to the stomach when I think of the millions of people who are going to put a cross next to the name of the political party – or candidate – whose campaign has been conducted on the basis of false promises – promises which they know very well can never be kept. Why does it sicken me? Because those promises are giving millions of people hope for a brighter future – and they are going to be hugely disappointed.

What South Africa needs now – more than ever before – is a Ministry of Common Sense whose leaders will admit the realities of the day and fight to overcome the very real challenges facing us by harnessing the full potential of the people and resources of this land of ours. For President Jacob Zuma to stand on a podium and say – as he did at a recent pre-election rally in Tembisa – that the blame for the poverty and unemployment faced by the majority of black people today can be laid on the apartheid government which, he said, is now being represented by the opposition DA, is a gross dereliction of his duty as the leader of this country. He said there had been no such thing as poverty “until the whites arrived”. He then went on to rub more salt into his racial rubbish by saying: “This poverty that we are experiencing today happened when the oppressors arrived. They took everything and ate alone. We need to regain our land and be in control of our economy and we can only do that by voting.” And here comes the real crunch – the real reason for his grasping onto such flimsy and short straws: “And we need to vote in big numbers so that we have a majority and can have serious power.”

Serious power!! You can’t be serious. If we had a Ministry of Common Sense, it would immediately point out that you’ve had “serious power” for years and you personally have done nothing but abuse it at the expense of all South Africans. Is your Tembisa speech the best you can do in giving the people of South Africa hope for the future? Is this the best you can do to gain votes – to incite hatred for whites? Let me tell you something Mr President. In 1994, I voted out racialism in this country. It does not matter what party I voted for. What does matter is that I voted out racialism. Yes, we all know that apartheid was declared by the United Nations as a Crime against Humanity. We all know how wrong it was. And that is why I was thrilled to vote it out of existence. Now, 22 years later and 22 years of the ANC being in ‘serious power’ you are telling me that all our troubles of today are because of it. And you are saying that just to get votes! That is “seriously” disgusting and “seriously” undermines the status of your position as President of this country.

I want to ask you a “serious” question Mr President. When last did you look in a mirror and be “seriously” honest with the person looking back at you? Have you ever done that? I have. For two years, I knew I had a drinking problem but I never wanted to admit the truth. Then, one day, I stood in front of a mirror and had a “serious” conversation with the guy looking back at me. There was no-one else there. We didn’t have to impress anyone. We weren’t trying to get anyone’s vote. We were just trying to get to the truth. We discussed a couple of things – just to get to know each other – and eventually got around to the real issue. “C’mon, admit it,” I said to the guy in the mirror. “You’re an alcoholic.” He looked back at me: “No I’m not. I’ll show you. Come with me to the pub and we’ll only have two beers.” I argued back: “No, we’ve tried that many times and it’s never worked.” The conversation went back and forward until eventually, I said to my reflection: “You are an alcoholic. Say it”. The reflection hesitated for a while and then said it. “I am an alcoholic”. By talking to each other, my reflection and I had got to the truth – and that truth changed my life. That was over 30 years ago and I have never had a drink since.

I am asking you Jacob Zuma – for your own sake but more importantly for the sake of South Africa – to go stand in front of a mirror and “seriously” ask your reflection whether or not the poverty and unemployment South Africans are facing today is solely due to apartheid – is solely due to the day the “whites arrived”. You see Mr President, not everything that is bad has been the fault of the ANC so you don’t have to deflect blame and put it on the day the “whites arrived”. I’m from the trucking industry so let me give you just one example: Last year, a mine closed in Phalaborwa. The shut-down of the mine had nothing to do with the ANC and certainly nothing to do with apartheid. It had everything to do with the drop in global commodity prices which saw the mine – owned by the Chinese by the way – producing its product at a higher price that it could sell it at. The truth is that the mine was unsustainable. The closure of the mine resulted in about 800 trucks being put out of work – overnight. That had a horrible effect on the operators running those trucks as well as on the employees. That is just one example – there are many others. I say again, it had nothing to do with the ANC or apartheid. It had everything to do with the realities of today’s world. And that is what we are looking for – politicians who can face the realities of today’s world and deal with them in a responsible manner without having to conjure up falsities in order to grab votes.

Go talk to the mirror Mr President and if you’re really honest with your reflection, you’ll come out with the truth – and that is about the only thing you can promise voters will be free because, as the Bible says: “The truth will set you free.”

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