By Mark Steele, MPL, Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature:
TODAY I am going to be saying a lot about expectations. People often say politics is all about perceptions. Today I am going to argue that expectations are even more important.
For example I expect that – at some stage in the proceedings – the majority party will claim that their government has delivered increased life expectancy in KZN. Yes, we accept that our people are indeed living longer and that is a good thing. We acknowledge that the previous Premier of KZN did the right thing at a time when denialism and beetroot treatments were all the rage.
What are some of the other things people expect from their governments? Traditionally in the academic literature there are only two – to protect the value of the currency (sadly the government has failed in that) and secure the integrity of our borders – (sorry, failed again).
But let’s look at a few more up to date expectations. I want to speak about four such areas;
– The first is power supply. Contrary to what the ANC might think, South Africans actually expect their government to provide reliable constant electrical power supplies. If the government fails and we are plunged into darkness every day for an hour or two then we are no different from other notorious so-called ‘banana’ republics like North Korea or Zimbabwe. Disappoint South Africans in their expectations and they will punish you.
– Then there is the expectation that the government and its president will uphold the Constitution and obey the law. But that’s not what happened just a few weeks ago at the Waterkloof Air Force base when we allowed a wanted criminal to leave from a national key point contrary to a court order issued by our own judges. When we helped the president of Sudan escape justice we seriously disappointed our own people and they will punish you.
Then there is the biggest failure of our government to live up to expectations.
South Africans look around them at similar or neighbouring countries (again not Zimbabwe) and they see growing economies and increased levels of employment.
The broad definition of unemployment has not dropped below 30% since President Zuma took office. Of those who are unemployed, almost two-thirds are young people and most of them are young black South Africans. This is an appalling failure to deliver on the expectations and aspirations of a generation of young people and they will punish you.
And then there is local government. This is the terrain where the ANC will be putting their record in office to the test in 2016. The national Department of Cogta recently rolled out its latest policy – that’s right, the ‘back to basics’ one. Does no one else think this is the ultimate admission of total failure – that after 20 years in power the best the government can do is to admit they have to go back and start again?
That Madam Speaker is a failure, not a triumph of policy innovation! In municipalities around the country people’s expectations for efficient, cost effective and caring local government has been disappointed and they will punish you.