Finally, the African National Congress (ANC) seems to be telling its people the truth, albeit in a backhanded sort of way.

In doing so, however, it seeks to hide a blatant lie. To quote Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (Cosatu chief warns of assassinations, June 27): "Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, a national executive committee member, said alliance members should be careful of comrades who say things are going to happen here and now, because it is not true."

Mr Mthethwa cited as an example China, which had "ascended to power" 62 years ago, and it was only now that its people were seeing marked improvements in their socioeconomic lifestyles.

This is a telling statement from two perspectives. At first read, it appears as if Mr Mthethwa is indicating to cadres that they shouldn't believe every kneejerk comment they hear from dissenting ANC leaders in the run-up to Mangaung. A second glance reveals a craftily bland observation that seeks to deceive and excuse the lack of government performance. Mr Mthethwa apparently wants the ANC support base - the poor of SA - to stop thinking that everything the ANC has promised will come to pass in the near future, when it took 62 years for the poor to realise their dreams in China.

Two questions spring readily to mind. First, why it has taken so long for Chinese citizens to realise the lifestyle improvement ?

It doesn't take a genius to know it is because the communist regime has kept its people under the cosh politically, socially and economically. The second question is why now the change? Clearly it has something to do with the citizens' newfound exposure to cash via an improvement in the economy.

South Africans don't need to be deceived into waiting 62 years. We can skip forward to join China with progressive economic policy.

The question is whether this government can deliver on this. There appears to be little evidence to show that it can.

Barry Ross

Cape Town