State Capture Watch

Time has come to liberate SA from 'liberation'

State Capture.jpg

The time has come for South Africa to hit the reset button on the liberation of the country that happened at the turn of the century and liberate itself from the notion that liberation was a one-time event.

Put another way, we need to realise that liberation is a process. It went into a critical phase in the 1980s and peaked in 1994, but has not been completed and probably never will. Freedom, to be maintained, calls for permanent vigilance lest it be eroded and turned into a new serfdom, servile to a small new elite.

This danger of a new form of serfdom is very aptly described by the dominating buzzword: ‘state capture’ – as personified by President Jacob Zuma and his friends the Gupta family.

As a society, we often lose sight of the fact that every social-political process is always subject to mistakes and in need of permanent review and tinkering to ensure governance processes remain in line with the best interests of society as a whole.

Likewise, we tend repeatedly to make the mistake to over-emphasise, or simplify, if you want, the role of individuals in what happens in society – be it good or bad.

And we are about to make the same mistake again by heaping all the blame for the present political and governance crisis on the shoulders of President Zuma.

It is interesting that Public Protector’s report on state capture, while largely describing ethical, procedural and possible legal contraventions by a variety of cabinet ministers, aspects of state-owned enterprise (Eskom) abuse and the undue influence exercised by the Gupta family and their surrogates, does not finger President Jacob Zuma directly.

The implication, however, is that there was neglect of duty – to the extent of implying complicity – by the president. This further implies that there are systemic weaknesses at play in governance processes.

In this regard, it is also important to remember that the ‘Zuma story’ with its legacy of fraud, corruption and state capture dates to well before his watch, to the days of the weapons procurement programme, the shadow of which still lingers in court around charges against President Zuma.

Much wider

What also became clear since in recent times, since the ANC lost control of several municipalities in the local government elections, it that the problems associated with cadre deployment and state capture are not restricted to national level.

The feeling of alienation from ‘the system’ among a large slice of society, underlying the proliferation of protests – often violent – on many fronts, also speaks to problems that are not just in the political sphere.

Elsewhere we report about the heart-rending experience of a Soweto man who became the victim of unethical and dubious practices in the private banking sector.

Also read: Soweto man’s house sold behind his back for R100

The cynics among us also ask why it took business leaders so long before they joined the voices of protest against issues like state capture. Is it a question of many of them having hands that are not all that clean?

Cultivating an inside track for government business is by far not an exclusively South African phenomenon. Neither is it a post-1994 one. From my days in politics pre-1994 I know of special ‘PR efforts’ with and for officials and political office-bearers while big contracts were in play.

And then there was the infamous so-called info-scandal of the 1970s, which had its own particular network of families and cronies involved.

The mistakes of 1994

As reported last week, some serious mistakes were also made during the negotiation process leading up to the 1994 election, allowing what should have been transitional arrangements to become permanent features of the governance construct because of the lack of sunset clauses.

In the process, the door was opened to legal practices prone to misuse, costing the taxpayer billions, as came to light in the bigger picture around the recent charges brought against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

On the political front, misguidedly trying to protect minority (read white) rights, some key National Party negotiators bargained for a purely proportional election system. This left us without any direct link and accountability to voters by members of parliament on an individual basis – voters does not have specific members with  a responsibility to render service to them.

The political party and its structures became paramount to, and the only ‘constituency’ of, any aspiring member of parliament. Direct accountability to voters got lost in the process.

Zuma not the only problem

The ascendency of Jacob Zuma and his style of political leadership and power is one of the results of this situation. Just the removal of him by the ANC will, however, not solve the problem.

For the ANC, it will be ideal for the party to remove him. If it doesn’t, it runs the risk of Zuma’s legacy becoming the lasting legacy of the party, overshadowing its liberation legacy and wiping it out as a party of real influence in future elections – starting in 2019.

The call by ANC veterans for the party to hold a consultative conference to discuss the political crisis in the ANC, is a step in the right direction. Some thought should be given to how a repeat performance by another future leader can be avoided by looking at why such a situation developed in the first place and addressing those reasons.

A fresh start

That the ANC in the first instance, be it somewhat belatedly, welcomed the report by the PP on state capture, is also to be welcomed. If handled wisely, it could give the country a fresh opportunity to press the restart button, so to speak.

Hopefully the judicial commission of inquiry, recommended by PP Thuli Madonsela, will not only investigate the ‘Zuma affair’, but will be enabled to, and will indeed look at the wider factors which facilitated state capture, and make recommendations to improve future accountable governance.

If not, the whole affair might turn out to be a tragic wasted opportunity.

Also read: South Africans learn that the law can be a double-edged sword

by Piet Coetzer

Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook
comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe to the newsletter

Final Word

Final Word

IntelligenceBul Final Word Confusing world of sluts, gays and lesbians 0 years - reply - retweet - favorite

IntelligenceBul Let's Think Will Zuma admit that he is a “shady man”? 0 years - reply - retweet - favorite

IntelligenceBul Propery & Wealth Home-grown financial solution for a truly South African dilemma 0 years - reply - retweet - favorite