Public opinion suggests that the rapid political corruption in South Africa is expected from ‘black’ politicians. Lately, corruption has intensely become synonyms with black politicians. The escalating media coverage of corrupt government officials has done justice for the public by removing corrupt individuals from leadership- and some still remain unprosecuted.
Unfortunately, the same whistle blowers have unconsciously influenced the public to come to a belief that “black equals corruption.” This belief does not only paint the black race as greedy, corrupt and unfit for leadership- it has also made the preying of national by politicians in the expense of the public to be acceptable.
It has become perceptible that the South African government is corrupt- and so is its governing body. However, the public has become tolerant towards this unjust ruling, because South Africa is ruled by a predominately black party; meaning corruption should be tolerated and ignored.
Xobani Hlokoza, an unemployed 30-year-old from Mdantsane believes that tendership has resulted to a new class of blacks to emerge. “I think it would be foolish for a South African of any race to say black politicians aren’t corrupt. We all know their rags to riches stories have one common catalyst- tenders. Black politicians are the new elite thanks to these tenders,” he said.
Many South Africans like Mzwanele Qayana, a 56-year-old owner of a small welding business in Mthatha supports Hlokoloza’s concept. “The term ‘tenderpreneur’ has risen since black power. The old fashioned way of starting your own business to make money has been replaced by the awarding of contracts worth millions to an emerging elite class of business men.
These men have close relationships with senior government workers who have the power to transfer government contracts to their friends in exchange of a fair share,” he said.
The younger generation says it would run for presidency, because it means instant fortune and absolute power; through controlling the state and its resources.
Lunga Mbutho, a 27-year-old university student from Port Elizabeth said, “Being a president means having your own palace and calling it Nkandla. It means driving lavish cars pass deteriorating townships with your people drowning in poverty. No one questions you for this even when enormous controversial media reports claim you built your palace through tax payers’ money. People simply vote you into second term.”
Black political corruption is the result of deprivation during apartheid
Public opinion suggests that black political corruption is the result of Apartheid. During apartheid blacks were marginalized by the state by being deprived opportunities that would guarantee them social advancement. Additionally, they were forcibly removed from areas that were deemed ‘white worthy’ into overpopulated and deteriorated townships.
Today, squatter camps also known as informal settlements are an escalating problem in South Africa. According to Precious Spirits Khayelitsha, in Cape Town, is the largest shanty town in Africa with close to 0.5 million inhabitants.
Bongiwe Qhubeka, a 69-year-old retired domestic worker from Libode said, “Proper housing for Black South Africans has been an issue since I was a young girl. I grew up in a mud built hut. I then moved into a shack in Khayelitsha in search of greener pastures. After 26 years of hard labour my body became exhausted from hard labour.
“I have no property to name. The government makes me angry for delaying RDP housing- especially when you read scandalous stories about their lavish houses.
“However, I understand why they do it. As citizens we elect people we can identify with. Therefore, if I was in power I would probably build a mansion for myself and secure a better lifestyle for myself before serving the country.”
Nombuso Qegu a 54-year-old from Mthatha says lack of opportunities during Apartheid have entrenched black people into poverty. “We were not able to freely start our own businesses during that time. We had to either work for a Baas or slave away in underpaying exhausting piece jobs that had no pension or medical aid. Black politicians who are corrupt want to secure a better future for their children, because they want to end the series of poverty in their families,” she said.
According to the Global Research Group “unemployment is very inequitably distributed in South Africa and certain groups are much more likely to enter it and stay in it, than others.” The group’s research shows that blacks have an unemployment broad definition of 41.2 per cent, a narrow definition of 26.2 per cent and a broad narrow gap of 15.0 per cent; while whites have a broad definition of 6.3 per cent, a narrow definition of 4.2 per cent and a broad narrow gap of 2.1 per cent.
Census Figures show that 72 per cent of South Africa’s unemployed are younger than 34, while 65 per cent black youths are without jobs.
The public’s belief that apartheid is to blame for the corrupt unjust political system that is rapidly growing in South Africa is also supported by black politicians themselves. Julius Nyerere’s 1962 African Socialism paper states that, “in the old days the African never aspired to the possession of personal wealth for the purpose of dominating any of his fellows. He had never had labourers or “factory hands” to do his work for him. But then came the foreign capitalists. They were wealthy. They were powerful. And the African naturally started wanting to be wealthy too.”
Therefore, according to Nyerere South Africans can blame the capitalists (whites) for our current political state and greedy corrupt politicians.
Similarly, in late May this year the Department of Trade and Industry issued a press release that was headlined “Apartheid to blame for South Africa’s unemployment rate.”
South Africa is believed to have been corruption free under the white man’s rule
The apartheid government’s inordinate censorship of public information has resulted to close to nothing being known about its corrupt government. This according to Hennie van Vuuren has “somehow allowed the regime to be remembered as ‘brutal’ in how it yielded power, yet ‘honest’ in how it managed its finances.”
Nobandla Mbutho, a 63-year-old shebeen owner said, “Apartheid was meant to marginalize blacks and empower whites. As a result all whites are rich today while inequalities continue to rapidly spread amongst us, because of these corrupt black political leaders.”
According to Macdonald (2006), “conditions are totally different in today’s free and open democracy. The media today are free of the shackles of press censorship that kept the evidence of widespread corruption under wraps in the past. Today’s media uses this freedom to uncover and expose corrupt activity, inevitably fuelling the perception that corruption is more prevalent now.”
On 20 April 1989 the Sunday Times published the article “Corruption worse, most whites believe.” It had the following lead, “Johannesburg.- Most white South Africans believe high-level corruption has greatly worsened during President P.W. Botha’s term of office. This finding emerges from a major national poll of white opinion on corruption and morality conducted by Research Surveys (Pty) Ltd of Cape Town.”
According to Macdonald (2006), “The report, entitled Apartheid Grand Corruption, describes startling incidents of corrupt activity between 1976 and 1994, such as the Information Scandal of the late 1070’s; the cloak-and-dagger operations of the Broederbond; stories of mysterious Swiss Bank accounts; of illicit ivory trading by the Defence Force and of the sanction- busting policies of apartheid.”
Not only was political corruption not reported- accused individuals never received severe sanctions neither. According to Fraser, “in many instances these inquiries were dogged by accusations of whitewashing- and where there were prosecutions, often these were merely the middle managers of apartheid who claimed that they were scape goats for their political masters.”
No race has corruption imprinted in their DNA
Indeed, to some extend apartheid did influence our current political state; however, apartheid is not the only core problem. Passive aggressive citizens are! As citizens of South Africa in 2013 our enemies are not fellow citizens with a different skin colour from ours- instead our enemies are the political profiteers who are determined to keep our country divided permanently through historical scars in order to remain in power.
Enforcing white guilt not only justifies the corrupt government we are under- it also grants corrupt individuals absolute power.
Our enemies are people in higher positions who grant unlawful tenders to friends for a fair share. We need to stand up collectively and fight against such people, because according to the Freedom Charter, “all people in South Africa are entitled to take part in the administration of the country.”
We need to stop tolerating corruption, because no race has corruption imprinted in their genes. Nor should one’s background justify their preying on national resources on the expense of the public. “Our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities” – Freedom Charter.
During apartheid the aim was to give absolute power to white people, because according to Hendrik Verwoerd’s supremacist racism, “black people are useless, primitive, lazy, barbaric and backward and were destined to be ruled over by the white race.”
Therefore, when we as black people generalize an entire race based on a deviant behaviour exhibited by a small per cent of our race we are enforcing a backlash upon ourselves. We are agreeing to Verwoerd’s false white superiority philosophy that indeed black people are unfit for presidency.
Instead, what we should do, collectively as a nation, is to identify corrupt politicians, single them out and hold them accounting, because a ‘black’ political corruption does not exist.