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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Allister Sparks Bemoans Our Pols’ Obsession with Petty Problems

First DraftsAllister Sparks is less than impressed with where the ANC and its ruling partners have placed their emphasis in the first month of 2010. Public spats – like that embodied by the butting of Tokyo Sexwale and Gwede Mantashe’s heads over a “booing report” (it would be hard to make this stuff up) – are taking precedence over hard policy, he finds to his great distress:

LISTENING to our political debate as this critical new decade gets under way, I am struck by its mind-blowing banality and irrelevance. We are at a vital phase in our development, for the foundations of the new SA have been laid and it is in the course of this decade that we must accelerate or we shall fall behind and fail to become a successful nation.

This is because there are some serious structural problems that threaten our future, yet our rulers are not focusing on them. They are preoccupied instead with arcane ideological arguments and personal and factional rivalries.

Everyone is too busy scheming about who should get which job, about how to shut down the opportunities for so-and-so to build branch support so he can be squeezed out at the next national conference, about who commands “the strategic centre of political power” and how to promote your buddy so he can get there and then ease you and your faction higher up the pecking order.

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