Our politics is in a morally dire state, with individuals of questionable ethics being elected into very powerful positions.
Appointments I can almost understand, because that is the straight-forward criminality of one corrupt official giving another a show.
But when such people get elected into power by the public, or by colleagues, then I’m afraid we may have reached the edge of the cliff of social dignity.
And while none of us want to jump, we are being pulled over by those willing to compromise on everything that is decent.
My dismay was sparked by the recent election of eThekwini regional chairperson Zandile Gumede, who is accused of corruption.
Then there is murder-accused Mandla Msibi, who is now the provincial treasurer of Mpumalanga.
It is clear that the calibre of the individual no longer matters to those casting their votes.
This all despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stand-aside order, which is meant to appeal to the moral sense of justice of his party colleagues, but also his attempt to rescue the battered public image of the ANC.
Like him, I am at a loss to explain it, other than perhaps that the voters themselves are so desperate to get to the front of the gravy train, that they are hoping for a hand-up once their candidate gets to the steering wheel.
Are we witnessing political patronage positioning in action? Or are those in charge of candidate selection to blame?
In other words, perhaps it’s not that we are willingly electing criminals into power, but rather the fact that they are the only choices we are given.
When the electorate is forced to choose between the known devil, and the unknown one, they will obviously go with what is familiar.
Political morality seemingly having been taken off the table for the electorate, is a reprehensible state of affairs.
But of course people change their ways and we must make allowance for personal growth. In this regard, Gayton McKenzie may well be continuing on his path to redemption.
He has been a colourful figure on the political landscape for many years and turned his history as a convicted gangster and bank robber into a lucrative business as an author and motivational speaker.
His Patriotic Alliance party is almost 10 years old now and last week.
Thanks to coalitions with two other parties, he became the new mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality.
He has the support of another politician with a chequered past – the former mayor Truman Prince, whose wife is now McKenzie’s deputy.
McKenzie is admired in the Laingsburg, Beaufort West and Prince Albert areas, where he has promised big changes over the next five years.
This includes eradicating the bucket system, cancelling municipal debt and improving services, amongst others.
Most interestingly, he says he will donate his salary towards the purchase of ambulances and promised to use his personal wealth for his official transport, flights, petrol and security.
After being sworn in, McKenzie wrote on Twitter: “The taxpayer looked after me in jail. I am free now.”
He is making all the right noises, but – considering the inevitable balancing act that is required within a coalition – will he be able to deliver?
After all, one of his coalition partners is the ANC, and they don’t have a great example from their national leadership to draw on.
Despite my reservations, I am rooting for him, even if it is to prove a point to other politicians.
Even partial success won’t redeem him, but also score huge political points for his party.
I just hope that he proves to be all that he purports to be, because not only is his rise a great example politically, but also socially.