A vote for corruption

2014-03-31 10:00

The Public Protector’s report on Nkandla is a call to action for citizens to stop the culture of corruption and impunity that has characterised the ANC government over the past two decades.

It started in 1996 with Sarafina 2, a play created by Mbongeni Ngema’s Committed Artists company to supposedly educate the youth about HIV/Aids, which cost the taxpayer R14.3?million, compared with the R600?000 the only other bidder, Opera Africa, offered.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found procurement rules were broken, but the then health minister, Nkosazana Zuma, was let off the hook by the ANC leadership, which included then president Nelson Mandela and his deputy, Thabo Mbeki.

Then came the arms deal scandal, which is still haunting our democracy. The Seriti Commission shows no sign of vigorously pursuing the serious procurement questions as well as unfulfilled promises of jobs made by the winning bidders.

Taxpayers and future generations face mounting cost escalations from the R30?billion in 1999 to more than double that in today’s rands. Much of the equipment bought lies underused. No one in Mbeki’s administration has yet to take responsibility for this costly and corrupt deal.

Then there was PetroSA’s Oilgate 1 and 2. The first involved the laundering of R11?million of state money through Sandi Majali, whose deals included the Iraqi Oil for Food scandal in early 2000.

Majali rerouted the money from PetroSA for services rendered back to the ANC to fund its operations.

Oilgate 2, involving the abuse of PetroSA procurement processes to benefit politically connected managers in a deal to purchase a Ghanaian oil company, broke a year ago. Close to R1?billion was abused in the deal. Although the then energy minister, Dipuo Peters, promised to investigate the matter, no one has yet been held to account.

President Jacob Zuma came to office in 2009 facing more than 700 charges of corruption, which were set aside in a controversial National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) ruling. The ANC’s commitment to defend corrupt leadership within its ranks became fully manifest.

Zuma’s accession to the presidency marked the beginning of a systematic weakening of institutions in our democracy to secure the will of the ANC in power: the NPA, the Special Investigating Unit, the Judicial Service Commission and the Constitutional Court itself became targets for attack.

Less than ideal appointments were made and a tolerance of wrongdoing was allowed by sitting high court judges such as Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlope. It should come as no surprise so much energy was expended to stop, threaten and vilify Madonsela in an attempt to silence her.

The chances of Zuma being prosecuted are slim. The heavy involvement of the ministers of police, justice, intelligence and defence against the Public Protector’s interim report is an indication of their commitment to protect him at all costs.

The Public Protector, who called herself “makhadzi” (the father’s sister who settles disputes), has spoken loud and clear. The president has benefited handsomely at taxpayers’ expense. Procurement rules and ethics codes were violated.

The loudest voice of the citizen is the vote. Those who claim they will vote again for the ANC because the ANC is not Zuma have to think again. It is the ANC that gave us Zuma for president. It is the ANC that protected him from charges of corruption in 2009.

Ramphele is the leader of Agang?SA

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