MAshatile reaps what he sowed

Redi Direko

Redi Direko

Nomvula Mokonyane did well to accept her appointment as the new premier of Gauteng. She should now insist that the ANC's national executive committee stop patronising her by asserting that her appointment is based on her gender. Of course it is important to achieve gender parity, but to suggest that Mokonyane has not earned this appointment is disingenuous. She is not just a woman.

She is an individual with a formidable political pedigree. I don't buy the ANC's platitude that in choosing her the party was showing its commitment to gender equality. That's just official party line nonsense that no discerning person should believe.

Unlike many political parties and governments here and elsewhere, the ruling party has done a sterling job of appointing women to strategic positions.

The party has proven its commitment to this cause and there was, therefore, no pressure to appoint the feisty Mokonyane. Besides, overlooking the chairman of the ANC in the province was a far riskier option than not appointing a woman. Why create the very two centres of power that the current ANC leadership so passionately abhors?

The ANC national executive committee can proffer all manner of sophistry to convince us that Mashatile is not being sidelined, but the truth, in all its nakedness, is that he has been.

There are those who believe he is paying the price for initially backing Tokyo Sexwale in the epic battle of Polokwane. That does not hold water because if that were the case, this punishment would have been administered when Mbhazima Shilowa vacated the post.

By taking up the premiership seven months ago, Mashatile was merely stepping into a role for which he had been preparing for a very long time. He did not waste time getting comfortable in his new powerful role. His confident swagger and permanent smile left you in no doubt that he was living his dream of heading the economic powerhouse of the subcontinent: Gauteng.

It is no wonder he is now looking grey and stunned. Despite his smiles and calm demeanour, the boy from Alex has had his candy snatched from him.

I remember how as children we'd stuff our faces at Christmas time with all manner of delectable junk food. The adults would provide a word of caution about overindulgence and its consequences.

Alas, we were so gleeful and lost in the noisy revelry of festivity. Times were good and there was no way we could stop our daily feast of sweets and cookies. Come January, it would be pay back time in the form of castor oil.

This vile laxative was meant to cleanse our tummies and, I suspect, bring us back to mother earth.

Mashatile has been brought back to mother earth, with a thud. He ate too much of the pie and kept his hand in the cookie jar for far too long.

That is the reason for his demotion and not some moralistic pursuit of gender equality.

A source close to the shenanigans told me "when you are in power, you give the nation 90percent and keep 10percent. Paul and his friends gave the nation 10percent and kept 90percent". This may be an exaggeration but what this communicates is that as talented as he is, Mashatile was reckless with taxpayers' money as has been reported on many occasions.

He was greedy, lavish and way too smooth. His appointment of pals and family to strategic positions is an open secret. If I were his aide I would advise him to not even attempt to "clear" his name, issue denials or invite proof of these allegations. There is a lot of truth in the saying "be careful what you ask for.".

If he wants proof, he may just get it. The best thing to do now is to swallow this laxative called demotion, reflect on some of his decisions and inject some values into his leadership style.

Oh, it would also help to reduce his trips to Auberge Michel and encourage friends and spouse to find honest jobs over which he has no influence.