Dashiki Dialogues: Our selective corruption outrage

2013-06-05 10:00

National sovereignty is fast becoming an obsolete idea in the age of hypercapital and multinational companies.

One is almost inclined to think that the idea of national borders is outdated and romantic, albeit at our own peril.

We have to wonder about the ­future of basic freedoms in an ­unfolding future run by big men with deep pockets.

The pungent smell of that rank ­affair we now know as Guptagate set me on this line of thought.

You see, it’s their financial muscle that they use to lean on the head of state. President Jacob Zuma, whatever the state of his head, has allowed ­himself to be seen as malleable to the sort of manipulation and handling associated with this scandal.

Once there was Schabir Shaik, who was seen to have unprecedented access to the first citizen.

But I want to suggest there’s bigger corruption in the land than meets the headlines. The truth is that our outrage is apparently selective.

We don’t seem to be equally alarmed by other types of bad behaviour by the monied people who desecrate our sovereignty in much more sophisticated ways than landing private planes at national key points.

Consider that there are many basic ways by which national sovereignty can be undermined.

There is, for example, the simple and yet ­equally dangerous practice of ­selling key national assets to foreign interests in the name of privatisation and free-market economics.

Think about it this way, for ­instance: all the cars we buy on finance plans are owned by these banks; the houses you and I live in are owned by the same banks until they are paid off, a process that takes 15 to 20 years in most cases; and the same goes for commercial farms and other assets.

This means your car and house are foreign property, owned by the likes of Barclays Bank, which bought out a large chunk of Absa.

Think of land owned by multinational corporations operating in any small country. Even worse is possible in our world’s highly ­mobile capital that crosses borders.

How should we read news that South African companies are holding more than R500 billion in uninvested cash.

This when our economy ­is in desperate need of stimulation. Mind you, much of this cash may be considered apartheid booty.

This can only be seen as a capital strike of sorts by recalcitrant big businesses because it goes against the redemptive spirit of reconciliation and redress.

That is a tad ­unpatriotic. Not that we should expect dialogues of national loyalty when dashikis are patterned with self-interest.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

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