How to find textbook culprits
JUDGING by the statement issued by the ANC's national executive committee on the Limpopo textbooks saga, it's easy to believe that all those responsible for the mess will be charged.
The only person who will escape sanction is Hendrik Verwoerd because he died many years ago.
But if President Jacob Zuma's observations are anything to go by, Verwoerd must have risen from his grave, secured for himself ANC membership and got elected or appointed to an influential position that enabled him to influence the budgeting process of the government of Limpopo.
To top it all, magic man Verwoerd probably had a proxy in the provincial department of education's bid committee.
Yes, he did horrible things to the Republic, but don't politicians envy an evil man so powerful he could influence a progressive democratic governing party long after his own backward party has closed shop? Remarkable! It remains unclear why Zuma dragged Verwoerd from his grave.
I am now distracted by Verwoerd's ghost.
Let me revert to the point.
So, the ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe was talking tough on Monday, saying there would be no "holy cows" in unearthing those at fault.
"The NEC also considers the lack of delivery of textbooks in Limpopo shocking and unacceptable, and believes that whoever is found to be responsible must face stern action that might include criminal charges," Mantashe said.
This is indeed the kind of remarks you would expect from a good leader. Sadly, contained in the remarks is the subtext that the NEC does not understand how government operates. One honestly wants to believe this is not the case.
Like Zuma who goes all out to unearth ghosts, the rest of the NEC is following on that approach. There is a wild chase going on to nail the wrongdoers.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has taken most of the heat so far. No doubt a walking PR disaster, but she is not entirely responsible.
The ANC knows the people who are responsible. They are safely ensconced in their positions despite the fact that they have failed the test of "practical fidelity", to borrow a phrase, to their professed goals and to the electorate.
Now, who are these people that the ANC is hunting with so much fury and enthusiasm as if it does not know them? Now, let's explain in simple terms how the government works. In the process, the wolf will lose the sheep's skin.
During general elections voters are allocated two ballots - a national and a provincial - through which they elect the parties or party of their choice to govern respectively.
In Limpopo, for example, the ANC is a governing party because the people of Limpopo elected it.
Just like in the seven other provinces. The people of Limpopo also elected the ANC as governing party nationally.
Through the proportional representation system, the ANC sent those it considered the best brains to represent the will of the voters in the Limpopo provincial legislature.
Upon being sworn in as members of provincial legislatures, those best brains from the ANC lists are empowered to elect from among themselves the best brain as a provincial government leader, known as the premier.
The premier, in turn, is empowered to appoint from the provincial legislature the best brains as executive committee consisting of those we refer to as MECs (members of executive committees). They are responsible for different portfolios.
Among them is an MEC responsible for education who, like all MECs, reports to the premier and the legislature that elected the premier. Basic education is by and large the function of the provincial departments. The national department formulates policies, and sets norms and standards.
The role of the legislature is to hold the executive committee - the premier and his MECs - to account as individuals and also as a collective. But it does not end here.
The provincial legislature also decides whether to approve the budgets of the provincial departments and monitors how the money is spent during the course of the financial year.
If the provincial legislature is not satisfied about the performance of a particular department led by a particular MEC it means that the public it represents is also not satisfied.
The legislature can call for the MEC to be sanctioned. It can only do so if it has its eyes and ears on the ground, and feels the pulse of the people it represents.
If the premier fails to take action against incompetence or non-delivery or corruption, the provincial legislature is entitled to convene to elect a new premier.
If the provincial government fails to run any of the departments, the national government, led by a minister or team of ministers chosen by Zuma, can intervene to save the situation.
The failure of any of the provincial departments to perform their duties such as delivering textbooks is necessarily the failure of the premier, the MEC concerned and the provincial legislature.
The failure of the provincial legislature means the will of the people has been aborted. A question then arises, what then is the provincial legislature doing now if it no longer serves the purpose? If the provincial government has failed, why is it still intact? All of these institutions - the provincial executive committee, the departments and the legislature - are occupied by individuals predominantly from the ruling party.
Senior bureaucrats are "deployed" by the ruling party.
Now, why the hunt when the wolf, to paraphrase Antonin Scalia, is staring at Mantashe - not as a sheep but as a wolf?