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SA sliding into crony capitalism - Naidoo

2014-04-17 17:13
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 Stellenbosch University.

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 with citizens.”

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.”

Human greed

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.”

Read more on: anc  |  ronnie kasrils  |  jay naidoo  |  cape town  |  politics  |  elections 2014

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