The opposition parties are sleeping on the job

SA Student Congress leaders addressing students at the Pretoria West TUT main campus in 2015.

Not even the always trigger-ready Red Berets are capitalising on the dire state of affairs to position themselves as a government in waiting.

The universe keeps on gifting SA opposition parties gems on which they should be building a sustained attack on the ruling ANC – but it appears they are sleeping on the job.

Not even the always trigger-ready Red Berets are capitalising on the dire state of affairs to position themselves as a government in waiting. The Democratic Alliance is still navel-gazing – but the worst players in the opposition camp are the recent DA “breakaways” Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba.

They are clearly working on some sort of a new political formation, but have not only ignored all current developments but are also engaged in a horrible game of “guess if we’ll be working together or not.”

CNN’s business editor at large and international anchor Richard Quest gave a damning assessment of SA’s international economic rating when he was interviewed by Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum gathering last week. Typically, South Africans went on a social media frenzy over Quest’s brutal assessment of how the world views the country economically – but instead of addressing his views, the attacks were aimed at him.

No one addressed his direct questions: “Your entire economy was hijacked. Who is in jail?” Or his even worse observation that “if you think state capture was bad, it was worse”. But not a single opposition party has placed itself in a position to pounce on golden opportunities like the one presented by Quest to galvanise South Africans and provide a way forward.

The ruling party has been dillydallying on the fate of South African Airways for far too long. The time for ideological debates on what the national carrier means to the country and its pride is long gone. But the ANC saw fit to go into a weekend-long debate on the merits of whether to save or do away with the fiscus-draining airline.

What they fail to realise is there is nothing left to save. Whatever plan they have for the airline should be halfway to being implemented by now, but in their eternal wisdom they’re still engaging in debates that will only result in more billions being required to implement whatever they decide to do with SAA.

So deafening is the silence from the opposition parties on such a pivotal issue that one would not be remiss to think that none of the parties have a clue what to do with the airline.

Former president Thabo Mbeki used to chastise his counterpart in the opposition benches, Tony Leon, by pointing out that South Africa was not ready for a Westminster-type of political opposition where absolutely everything done by the ruling party is scrutinised and vehemently opposed. This was because this was a very young democracy that needed building. Right now, though, the onus is on the opposition to give hope to the masses because the ruling party is floundering.

The point must never be to kick the country when it’s down but to provide a concise plan, a believable alternative about how to get the National Prosecuting Authority to gain the country’s confidence; a plan to rebuild Eskom without killing the economy.

Quest said SA has been going to Davos pleading “invest, invest, invest – well, there’s no point if you haven’t got the policies worthy of it”.

Now is the time for credible opposition to stand up and say, “the country’s in a mess.”

Sadly, they’re sleeping on the job.

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