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Life in South Africa: Politics

If there’s one profession that the majority of citizens in any country are sceptical of, it’s politics. I think it’s got to do with our obsession with power and control.

Go on, tell me you don’t want to have some control over the circumstances around you… that you don’t want just a little bit more in your bank account…

By definition, politics is the process of decision making among many people. But that’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s simplify it:

…the word “politics” is derived from the word “poly” (meaning “many”) and the word “ticks” (meaning “blood sucking parasites”).

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To illustrate the point, if a minister of a certain portfolio gets fired, before he leaves he returns the government cell phone, but keeps the personalised number-plated BMW.

You can see why it’s a sought-after profession. I mean, simply seen to be doing an activity is the politician’s substitute for achievement! Bliss! One senior politician gave the following statement to his cabinet of ministers: “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting…”

Of course, it’s only desirable if you’re not worried about your reputation or what savvy citizens think of you.

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“Political cunning should never be mistaken for intelligence,” a university professor told me. “Honesty in politics is much like oxygen,” he elaborated. “The higher up you go, the scarcer it becomes.”

One of my mates came out of rehab the other day. “The government is sneaky,” he said. “They raise the tax on alcohol, then make sure that the country is in such a mess that you drink more.”

As a result, he’s done with politicians during election time. “Don’t vote!” he campaigns. “It only encourages them!”

Politics in SA
Politicians are like ships… noisiest when lost in a fog.

You have to admire his logic though: “Nobody can fix the economy. Nobody can be trusted with their finger on the button. Nobody’s perfect. Vote for Nobody!”

Speaking of election time, it seems to be the only time you notice things getting done. Potholes gets fixed, road signs are ammended and the streets are cleaned. It’s great!

“That’s just because the current governance wants to be kept in power as the time for voting creeps closer,” the professor told me. “Politicians are much like ships: noisiest when lost in a fog.”

As a result of course, most citizens are wary of politicans and consider many of them as dodgy characters. It seems to be a common denominator worldwide. For example, in countries where there are political T.V. commercials, one thing is apparent: some candidates can tell all their good points and qualifications in just 30 seconds.

“There are two sorts of politicians,” my professor reminds me. “Those who can talk nonsense on any subject under the sun, and those who don’t need a subject.”

The reason they bury politicians 26 feet under is because deep down they’re nice guys. It’s true, especially in South Africa. If the Protection of Information Bill gets passed today, I’ll probably have to take this down. They don’t want everyone knowing the truth.

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