Cape Town – Twenty years
after the first democratic elections, South Africa is sliding into a system of
crony capitalism former Cabinet minister and Cosatu leader Jay Naidoo said at
Naidoo was delivering the
third annual Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert (FVZS) honorary lecture, hosted by the
University’s FVZS Institute for Student Leadership Development, and sponsored by
the Konrad Adenauer Institute, on Wednesday evening.
After 20 years “we should
have been celebrating, yet it seems that no one is much in the mood to do so.
We are a nation against the ropes”, Naidoo said.
“We are sliding into a system of crony
capitalism. And that is where government has to overcome a huge trust deficit
He said the overwhelming
view is that delivery is poor, marred by corruption, and that systems fail
because of incompetence and mediocrity.
“This is what sparks the
fury, the anger that is driving much of the close to 13 000 service
delivery protests each year.”
South Africans do not
trust the leaders, Naidoo said.
“Time and again I hear
people say democracy is on sale to the highest bidder.”
He urged the audience to
demand that all tenders be published on the internet, that all ministers’
entertainment and travelling expenses are made public, that politicians and
state officials use public hospitals and schools.
Problems in mining
Naidoo blamed both
companies and union leaders for the “mess in the platinum mining industry”.
“Where have you ever heard
of a strike going on for three months without the parties finding a way of
talking to each other and resolving their dispute. This is just another example
of our leaders not caring.”
He said greater
accountability was needed, referring to a 2003 report by an Electoral Task Team
headed up by Slabbert, a Stellenbosch academic and former politician who had
resigned from Parliament.
“It is time for the report to be debated
publicly. It had recommended abandoning the proportional representation system
and adopting a hybrid model with elements of both the constituency system and
proportional representation. The report found that the current electoral system
encourages members of parliament to be accountable to their party rather than
the electorate. It is a damning indictment of our parliament, the sovereign
institution of our democracy.”
Naidoo told students: “You
are facing the perfect storm – the intersection between the financial crisis,
food insecurity, fuel shortages and climate change. The tide of human greed
threatens the foundations of our survival... You are not the leaders of the
future; you are the leaders of today who have to create a better life for all.”
Naidoo said he understood
the call for the “Vote No” campaign by Ronnie Kasrils and the frustrations that
led to it, even though he did not subscribe to the campaign.
“They are responding to
political arrogance and a crisis of leadership. And I dismiss any attempt to
minimise these people’s contribution to the struggle for our democracy. They
were some of our most courageous fighters for freedom.
“I share their unease in
my political home, the ANC. I tell my comrades ‘My loyalty is to God, my
children, the constitution and my own conscience, and if you don’t like it, you
can jump in the ocean.’ We need men and women of integrity who can stand up and
speak truth to power.”