The Curse of the Professional Politicians

by Hannes Wessels

Looking at the mess that prevails in much of the ‘western’ and ‘developing’ world, many are surely asking how this sorry situation could have possibly come to pass.

Africa, despite what the left-wing media wants us to believe, is in an economic and environmental death spiral as populations explode, poverty spreads and environmental abuse increases. When it comes to environmental, among many other issues, the continent is excused criticism by the ‘Greens’ and ‘Bunny-Huggers’ because it’s just not PC to be horrible to Africans.

Europe is fractured, conflicted and rudderless as it belatedly comes to terms with the influx of foreigners and the rude realisation that multi-culturalism has not proved to be the egalitarian paradise the politicians promised. France, if current demographic trends continue will have an Islamic majority in 25 years time. In the UK and the US the ‘blue-collar brigade’ have slapped a disconnected political elite down by voting for Brexit and Donald Trump. Working class people are poorer than they have ever been thanks to the demands placed on them by dishonest politicians who have consistently promised too much to too many and forgotten who was paying for their reckless disregard for the facts.

Behind this madness lies the curse visited upon billions of people by the age of the professional politician. The days when politicians entered the political arena purely because they wanted to improve the lot of their countrymen and women are a sad and distant memory.

Barack Obama is an excellent example. A man whose only work experience was briefly as a community activist in Chicago after which he was ushered into the Senate by powerful backers who have lots of money and control the media and the rest is history. His predecessor Bill Clinton was cut from much the same cloth. A draft-dodger, he fled to Britain as an undeserving beneficiary of a Rhodes Scholarship. He disgraced his office and should have been convicted of lying to a Grand Jury but for the twisted machinations of a Democratic-controlled upper-house. Obama’s attempt to turn America into a socialist state has left the new Trump administration with the biggest national debt in history. At the other end of the spectrum Ike Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan go down as two of America’s greatest post war presidents. Both were men of independent means with successful careers behind them when they entered the White House. They were genuine patriots who cared and history judges them kindly.

Recent UK Labour Party leaders including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and now Jeremy Corbyn all made a career out of politics and Blair has prospered mightily on the back of a dismal record as a prime minister. Thanks in no small part to his mendacity, Iraq was invaded on false pretences and the entire Middle East has been thrown into tragic turmoil. Jean-Claude Juncker who heads the EU and has supervised the ruinous economic and political decline of many member-states has been a politician all his working life.

In Africa it goes without saying political office is cravenly sought entirely because it provides the shortest path to the national treasury and unimaginable riches. With a handful of possible exceptions almost every African leader is a brazen ‘pro’ who feels little or nothing for the plight of those he or she claims to lead and represent and the post-colonial catastrophe that has unfolded is the proof of this. The list of larcenous despots is endless but notables include Mobutu Sese-Seko of the former Zaire who stole over $5 billion and Equatorial Guinea’s Nguema who may be the world’s wealthiest head of state. Nigeria’s Sani Abacha reportedly looted more than Mobutu and a Wikileaks-leaked cable reports Sudan’s Al-Bashir has siphoned off over $9 billion.

The fundamental problem that presents with professional politicians is they have little to return to if they lose office so there is little they will not do to retain it and if that includes lying to the electorate and abusing their power, then so be it. And because most of them were originally of modest means, they are easily bought, owned and manipulated by those who bankroll them to power.

It is for this reason President Trump brings hope. He took on the media and the special interests that got his predecessor elected and won, entirely on his own resources. He owes nobody anything and he doesn’t need to profit from political office. Like him or loathe him he is his own man and he’s acutely aware he is accountable only to those, mostly poor people, (not Hollywood celebs and media-moguls), who elected him. In a highly unusual development he has further outraged his legion of critics by actually doing what he promised his supporters he would do.

In this sense there is a similarity between Trump and some of our own former leaders in southern Africa. Some of the most widely reviled politicians in recent history, they too were routinely branded as ‘racists’, ‘Nazis’, ‘homophobes’, ‘chauvinists’, and ‘white supremacists’ but ironically, unlike virtually all their successors, seldom accused of dishonesty, fraud or theft.

Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith was a frugal man who eschewed extravagance and railed against anyone in his administration who wasted public money. He was a successful farmer when he entered politics and not even the fiercest of his millions of critics ever accused him of stealing from the public purse.  The story goes he was outraged in Geneva while attending the multi-party conference chaired by Ivor Richard when he saw the price of food and wine on the restaurant menu and insisted his delegation find less expensive dining venues in the interests of the tax-payer.

Unlike Jacob Zuma and his Nkandla retreat in Natal, former South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd did much of the work himself on building his modest holiday home in Bettys Bay. Because he spent leisure time there his security detail insisted there be a police presence close by which he argued against but eventually accepted only after receiving an assurance that their accommodation on his private property would be of a movable nature so that it could be redeemed by the State when he was no longer prime-minister. Prior to entering politics Verwoerd had enjoyed success in the private sector as an academic and as a newspaper editor. His predecessor, J.G. Strydom was so fastidious about misuse of government funds he insisted on posting his own personal mail to be sure he personally paid for their transmission.

Something odd here; out of the crucible of ‘Conservatism’ and commitment to fundamental Christian values we see little evidence among the leadership of commercial and criminal opportunism but it is the much loved liberals who claim to care so deeply about the downtrodden who seem to believe they are entitled to be richly rewarded for their despicable deceit.





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