There is no better manual than the one offered by Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini on how to manufacture a crisis in SA. You don’t really need much to get everyone worked up.
First thing you need to do is ignore a ruling by the Constitutional Court, the body given the mandate to legally safeguard the document that defines who we are as a people. There is no higher authority than the Constitutional Court on matters pertaining to the constitution. When the court rules that something is invalid you better fix it, or else.
But not if you’re the minister of social development. When you get told that the R3 billion tender your department handed out to Cash Paymaster Services for the distribution of grants is invalid, you study the judgment and then make as though you are going to fix it.
The next step is to ensure that everyone runs out of time to consider other options. This you do by continuously assuring everyone that “all is fine” and sheepishly asking “crisis? What crisis?” whenever anyone tries to alert you to the dangers of your time-wasting.
Even if the Constitutional Court gave you two years to fix a contract that is “extremely flawed and therefore unconstitutional” you play it cool. Let everyone lose their heads while you keep looking around as though you’re not the character starring in the movie that you’re also directing.
You also need to ensure that the principal, your employer, keeps his head out of your business. That one is easy because you’re very close to your employer. You’re president of the organisation that leads the praise singers for your principal. Even better, you know that your president has negotiated these kind of waters before and survived. So you know you’re safe.
Then you need to take your ignorance to a higher level. When parliament, the body that keeps you in check, summons you to appear before it concerning the crisis, you play dumb. You send your lieutenants and other lower-ranking officials to face the music while you as the minister are off to open a drug rehabilitation centre, in the company of the president.
Yes, everyone is frothing at the mouth and telling you that you are holding an AK47 to the heads of the people but you couldn’t be bothered about. Who are they to call you to order when the person who appointed you is right beside you?
But the masterstroke in manufacturing a crisis is to make sure you don’t get any of the blame. No, you don’t create a scapegoat, you simply point that AK47 in the direction of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s head.
Everyone who matters has been going on about how Gordhan is anti-poor. Who better to blame for the current grants crisis than him?
It’s quite easy really: having ignored the Constitutional Court for more than two years now, the government must come up with an emergency plan to pay the poorest of the poor their monthly grants.
But this can’t be done legally without using Cash Paymaster Services, whose contract has been declared unlawful, unless Treasury flouts the constitution.
Checkmate. Crisis fully manufactured.
Either Gordhan plays ball or else he is truly anti-poor.
Incompetence wins the day.