Our public servants are expected to reflect values that ensure that our democracy is not a pipe dream but a response to the aspirations of every citizen as envisaged in the Freedom Charter and our Constitution but President Jacob Zuma’s administration is mired in scandals and persistent reports of corruption, fraud, cronyism, tenderpreneurs, nepotism, poor service delivery and cadre development.
There is this new “new” breed of the South African political elite class leaders who believe that the political office meant access to government tenders and a licence to plunder state resources. They call them vultures.
It is depressing to know how many of President Jacob Zuma’s family members continue to amass riches for themselves benefiting from tenders and other largesse of the state with gross disregard for the interests of the ordinary South Africans. Why work hard, just marry into the President Jacob Zuma’s family and become a millionaire overnight.
President Jacob Zuma’s women and children cost the South African taxpayer more than twenty million rand a year and they also bid for private benefit from their presidential connections.
Of the 16 adults, wives, lovers and children who can be linked to President Jacob Zuma, 15 are in business, accounting with President Jacob Zuma for 134 company directorships or memberships of close corporations. Only four of these appear to be Section 21 “not for profit” companies.
President Jacob Zuma said, “I’m not a businessman and I don't know what happens in business”, but at least 83 companies (62%) have been registered in the post Polokwane period when his political future was secured.
Their interests range across the economic spectrum and include property, resources, trade, mining, telecommunication and IT.
We know from his past court appearances, that President Jacob Zuma cannot run his household finances and depended on Schabir Shaik, the convicted fraudster who was charged under the Corruption Act of 1992 and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison after he was found guilty of a corrupt relationship with and for soliciting a bribe for President Jacob Zuma and yet within two years his family is linked to 134 companies.
It would be unfair to isolate him and his family. The President Jacob Zuma clan have no compassion for the poor families who are dying of hunger and poverty and all they do is take take take. The truth is that we live in a country where the vast majority of the people who hold political office immediately transform family members into business people.
The wives of many politicians are “in business”, spouses and partners of director generals are “in business” and girlfriends, sons and daughters of politicians are “in business”. Very gentle probing of what “in business” means will show these family members trade on political connections they have.
They bid for and most inevitably receive tenders from government departments on the basis of their names and connections. These people are better known as tenderpreneurs. They add nothing to the work except political connections.
In most cases they receive the work because tender committees are scared of victimization if they do not hand over the tenders. Those tenders must go to the people who do the work and not intermediaries.
We often see reports of how the African National Congress government is going to deal with corruption and greed but these are merely words that will not be followed through with any constructive action in weeding out the root causes of the problems because a scan through the companies linked to the large First Families indicates the rot starts at the top.
The question of how to deal with unscrupulous public servants is a critical issue that demands a response from all of us first to recognize that we have a serious corruption problem that manifests itself in a dysfunctional leadership who lacks all the values of integrity, ubuntu, honesty, compassion, accountability, truthfulness, humility, justice and trustworthiness.
In the interests of curbing corruption and conflicts of interest, the Public Service Commission should revisit all ethical codes designed to govern administration of the public sector, introduce strict ethical compliance programmes and ensure that ethics and values are integrated in every aspect of the government.