My y last Editor’s Comment for 2015 was headed: “Make me once again Proudly South African!” YOU CAN READ IT HERE . Well, on March 31st I was once again able to stand tall and proud as a South African. It was on this day that the Constitutional Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly had defied the Constitution when they chose to set aside Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report following her probe into security upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla home. Zuma was ordered by the court to pay back the money used on his private Nkandla home – the amount of which was to be determined by the National Treasury. No need to go into the full details of the ruling here as you have all probably read it ‘ad nauseum’. But – WOW – what a great day for South Africa. At last, our miscreant President was being brought to book by a unanimous decision made by 11 judges of the highest court in the land.
The phone almost immediately began ringing with people wanting to share their elation. The cloud of doom which President Zuma had for so long hovered over our nation was lifted. The last time I felt like that was when South Africa was announced as the host of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. What followed after FIFA’s announcement was a vibrant mood of elation and pride as we all got ready as a united nation to host the world with a determination to make it one of the best world cup soccer tournaments ever. And so it was. South Africa’s full potential as a unified and glorious nation was totally realised and shone brightly for all the world to see. South Africa was a proud nation. That same feeling came over me on March 31st. With President Zuma’s constant shenanigans out of the way, we could, at last, once again get this country moving. For the past how many years South Africa has been dealing with nothing but Zuma, Zuma, Zuma. It has been one crisis after the other culminating in Zuma’s move on the evening of December 9th, 2015 to dismiss Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. This surprise announcement sent shock waves through the financial community as evidenced by the Rand immediately plummeting to below R15 to the US Dollar. Oh ooh, there go the truck prices up. Once again, this man, for his own personal reasons rather than in the interests of the country, had plunged South Africa into chaos. And remember that this was when one of the major ratings agencies was considering whether or not to downgrade South Africa to junk status. How could he do this to the people of this country? Well, at last it was now all over. The ruling of the Constitutional Court on March 31st would surely bring to an end his disastrous reign. Surely, out of a sense of statesmanship, honour, integrity and ethics, the man must now do the right thing for the country and resign. The muddied waters in the river of South Africa’s progress would now be replaced with crystal clear, revitalising water. It was a great day. South Africa was on the road again. Let’s get it moving.
Alas, the elation didn’t last long – one day to be exact. Instead of doing what any decent, honourable and ethical man would do, Zuma took to the podium on April 1st – coincidentally April Fool’s Day – and apologised to the nation. Aaaargh!!!! That apology was about as meaningful as being slapped in the face with a wet, rotten fish. I’m not a body language expert but I have a fair sense of reading body language and to me, there was not one ounce of sincerity in that apology. He was merely reading some speech writer’s notes as a matter of duty. I have read his statement over and over and it’s as if he was remonstrating others. It’s as if none of it applied to him at all. The point is, the hollow apology is not what this nation needs. It needs the man to go. He is the prime stumbling block in our progress towards realising our full dynamic potential.
Please note I am not supporting any political party by writing this – and I may well get flak for my opinion. What I want to ask you here is: “Is that apology enough to put aside the past and grow the country and thereby grow the trucking industry?” I contend it is not. As I mentioned in last year’s comment, the performance of our politicians is critical to the success of our country and our industry. When the economy grows so too does the trucking industry. When the economy flounders, so too does the trucking industry. Just this morning I received input from one of the insurance companies on methods of easing the cost pain of insurance premiums when trucks are put on blocks to stand idle in transport depots – as many are now doing. So transport companies are already being adversely affected by the economic downturn. In this era, we need every bit of positive input we can muster and Jacob Zuma – in his position as President of South Africa – is not a positive input. He is a liability and a huge negative to South Africa and our trucking industry. But why is FleetWatch, a trucking magazine, commenting on political happenings. Surely we should keep our nose out of these ‘big people’ events and write of the fantastic trucks on our roads? After all, this is just the ‘trucking industry’. Consider this. The trucking industry got heavily involving in ending apartheid – a political system – by getting involved in politics via sanctions. Volvo left the country, Ford left the country, Scania left the country as did many others, all with the intention of bringing pressure to bear on the politicians of the day to bring about the downfall of a ‘political’ system called apartheid. And it was successful. So business has in the past – and still does – have an input into politics. Without visionary, statesmanship-like political leaders who look beyond themselves towards the welfare of the nation as a whole, business is going to suffer and eventually die. We need a big man to drive our country forward. Zuma is not that man. He is too small for South Africa. Maybe the business community should tell him that.