An open letter to Jacob Zuma

2007-12-29 00:00

Dear Mr Zuma, I join the thousands of others who congratulate you on your decisive victory at Polokwane, and wish you a successful and productive term of office in this critically important post, which will almost certainly see you assume the presidency of South Africa in 2009.

Your first words spoken after your election, which were broadcast both nationally and internationally, were encouraging. Your emphasis on the spirit of reconciliation and of healing, and above all your unswerving loyalty, attested to accepted ANC policy, particularly in its economic aspects, and was good to hear. All this was reassuring to investors, to business confidence and to ordinary South Africans for whom the promotion of a stable economy is critical to their future.

We are especially grateful that you singled out two areas for special mention, that is, crime and HIV/Aids. Crime, particularly violent crime, is the single most potent and malevolent reason for the current brain drain debilitating our country, and which is contributing massively to the acute skills shortage we are experiencing in virtually every field of endeavour. Crime and the lack of personal security being felt in every corner, in every suburb and township is also the most powerful deterrent to much needed investment coming into our country.

If we are to succeed during your term of office to truly create “a better life for all”, then a new and superhuman effort must be made to annihilate this scourge. And we should not hesitate to draw on the assistance, expertise and experience of the international community in combating this threat to our stability.

HIV/Aids, too, needs to receive fresh attention and a renewed effort to eliminate it as a major threat to the wellbeing of our people. We look to you to inject real urgency into this campaign.

But before you tackle these issues there is one hard question to be asked and answered.

And one principle to be put before you for your consideration and response.

Firstly the question.

South Africa must be told about the state of your personal finances. Who pays your bills? We all know that your income in no way covers your monthly expenditure, given the maintenance of your several residences, of your several wives, children and staff. Who, if more than one, is picking up the tabs for you?

This is called disclosure. Now, private people have no need to make this information public, but trustees, directors, business leaders and you, Mr ANC President, should disclose your sources of income. This is in order to avoid accusations later of conflicts of interest occurring, of donors being favoured when contracts or jobs are handed out.

Please take my advice. Disclose, and put an end to past and future rumour-mongering bedevilling your term of office.

Secondly, I would like to mention a matter of principle.

A renowned KZN academic, Devi Rajab, wrote recently, “What we need now is fresh leadership to be able to take us to the next level. We need squeaky clean, mature, ego-less, capable, servant leaders who will place the interests of the South African public over all else. We need teams of experts to feed, clothe and house the masses and to run a country along goal-oriented lines.”

Idealistic, perhaps, but true. In other words Mr President Zuma, we need unselfish experts, not cronies in the top positions. We need the most qualified persons oiling the wheels of our economy, our health, transport, defence and other critical organisations. No “pay back” appointments.

If you follow this route you will take South Africa on the high road and you will be loved and revered. If not, your road will be the same as that travelled by Thabo Mbeki, and with the same ultimate result.

I wish you well.

• David Dalling is a former ANC Member of Parliament and parliamentary whip.

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