ANC all hot air and bluster
What were we obsessing about a month ago again? Oh, yes, it was the late or non-delivery of textbooks to schoolchildren in Limpopo. I am sure many government officials are very happy that the Marikana massacre came along and took the textbook issue off the front pages of newspapers.
But they should not be allowed to celebrate. They should not be allowed to think that this scandal will be swept under the carpet, that we will wait for it to re-surface next year and only then make a noise.
It should not be allowed because the textbook saga is arguably a greater tragedy than the one at Marikana, as horrific as the massacre was.
It is easy for politicians to milk the Marikana tragedy. At functions across the country, politicians are making all of us stand and observe "a moment's silence for those who died in Marikana".
Then they move on.
I want to remind readers that we have a cabinet that presides over more than a million civil servants. The members of this cabinet seem to enjoy saying the right things whenever they are in front of a crowd, but spectacularly fail to implement any of the right things when they are in cabinet meetings.
Here is what our "leaders" have said about the textbook issue over the past few weeks. Measure what they say against what they have done, and then tell me whether you think we have a government that is accountable.
On Thursday, Minister in The Presidency Trevor Manuel said: "Let me be clear that one of the biggest blots on the copybook of this democracy has been the debacle around the provisioning of textbooks in Limpopo that came to a head with court action by an NGO on May 4."
Manuel reportedly went on to say that the government, especially the provincial government of Limpopo, could not "absolve itself of responsibility".
These are fine words. So why is his colleague, Angie Motshekga, still in office? Why haven't her colleagues turned to President Jacob Zuma and said that she, and Limpopo education MEC Dickson Masemola, must fall on their swords? Manuel is the latest to speak but not "do".
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile last week said at a lecture that the late delivery of teaching materials to schools stifled the education of the "African child".
He said: "We must condemn any programme that seeks to undermine the process of ensuring that an African child is educated.
"The 21st century requires that we must be educated and equipped with skills to ensure that we produce prosperous communities."
Fine words, minister. But you are in the cabinet. Do something. Words are not enough. At the end of June, ANC policy head and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said the burning and non-delivery of textbooks was a "shame".
"Six months into the year, our children are still without textbooks. So it is a matter of shame that this has happened."
It is indeed a shame, minister. Why is Motshekga still sitting next to you? Why have you not told your comrade, President Zuma, to remove this shame from the ANC government?
Indeed, everyone in the cabinet is "appalled". The deputy president of the country, Kgalema Motlanthe, said early last month: "We have to break our silence by doing what is morally right and ethically right. In this regard, the failure to deliver workbooks and textbooks is indicative of a passive citizenry whose silence is complicit in the commission of such a tragic folly."
A tragic folly indeed, Mr Deputy President. What have you done with the power that you wield?
Motlanthe spoke again, on Thursday in parliament, on this issue. He did not seem to want to hold anyone responsible but spoke about next year's challenge of delivering textbooks to children.
"This is not just a challenge facing the Department of Basic Education but the government in its entirety. Education is an apex priority. If it means books need to be delivered by the defence force, so shall it be. No child shall be without learning material when school begins."
It does not seem as if there will be consequences for what has happened this year. Speaking on the SABC on July 1, Zuma was asked if there would be consequences. He answered: "Definitely, it cannot be left unattended. There will be consequences. We can't sit back as the government when textbooks were not delivered on time."
And so, two months later, we wait with bated breath for these great leaders to act, to commit to accountability and to use the power in their hands. We wait. We wait.