Richard Anthony Chemaly
4 minute read
17 Jun 2022
2:44 pm

If the Guptas’ arrest was a distraction, maybe your intelligence is the problem

Richard Anthony Chemaly

Admitting that you can only focus on one issue at a time is nothing short of accepting idiocy, writes Richard Chemaly.

Ajay and Atul Gupta, and Sahara director, Duduzane Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa on 4 March 2011. Picture: Gallo Images/City Press/Muntu Vilakazi

I’m not sure how we got into the mindset that South Africa only has the capacity to deal with one thing at a time, but we need to get out of it.

You know what I don’t really care about? Any ambitions to distract public attention by arresting the Guptas. You know what I do care about? The Guptas being arrested.

You know what would be ideal? When South Africans realise that they can do far better than focus on a single socio-political matter at a time.

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I mean, we have a cabinet of 28 people. It’s not like each of them only works a single day in February. Things can and should happen concurrently.

So, to say that an arrest that’s been sought for years is nothing short of a distraction is not only disingenuous, but also a commentary on the brain capacity of South Africa.

It assumes we’re idiots who can’t deal with more than one thing at a time. All 60 million of us, as if we kinda all just sync up and agree what one thing to focus on at any given moment.

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There’s no reason why we cannot have simultaneous discussions about $4 million stashed under a mattress, while arguing the merits of a weak public protector, as we also consider the arrest for state capture.

Even somebody with the, erm, innovative policy prowess like Angie Motshekga wouldn’t suggest that kids have to write matric maths before they can focus on grade 7 English.

The problem in South Africa is that we’ve been lazy. We’ve built a habit of looking for the next distraction, so we don’t have to do the work of remembering what happened yesterday and deal with it.

The examples are endless. I don’t even have to list them.

Just think of your favourite politician and what they promised to deliver three years ago. Can’t do it, can you? If you can’t even do that, how are you expecting to hold them to any sort of account, since you don’t know what to hold them to?

Okay yes, so maybe this Gupta thing is meant to be a distraction. Perhaps the anger felt by the people making the claim should be reinterpreted.

I’d be pretty angry if I had to admit to myself that my RAM could only hold down a single issue at a time. But the admission is nothing short of accepting idiocy.

If one looks at it from a national perspective, indeed, it would be alarming to admit that there can only be a single national narrative at a time.

The Cape Independence Party may disagree, but so should the rest of us.

The “Gupta arrests are meant to distract us camp” should pull themselves together and start a “Don’t let the Gupta arrests distract us” camp. That way we can actually get to the bottom of things, instead of using the existence of one to ignore the other.

Maybe then we could finally get to some resolution about the arms deal. Remember that?

Or whatever happened to that GEAR economic policy. Or any number of things we’ve since forgotten about because we’ve allowed ourselves to get away with singular focus for decades.

Come to think of it, I guess, given where and who we are, this is a distraction.

Unfortunately for those making a song and dance of it, simply calling it out won’t seem to do much to solve the issue. There will be other distractions to come.

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Distractions will always be around. As a nation, we need to accept that and stop letting them impede on the progress of getting things done.

Remember when South Africa had no problems other than a dumb plan for a giant flag?

Those were good times. So annoying that we solved that and then had the capacity to think about those state capture dudes again.

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