Honest ones not yet elected Zipho Makhoba

2016-07-27 06:00

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IN recent months I have been preoccupied about the subject of corruption. As such, I devoted time studying and making sense of the dialectics of corruption in South Africa.

Corruption is not novel to us, we talk about it, read about it, hear about it, are victimised by it, benefit from it, but many are deprived by it, etc.

However, the irony about corruption is that those who conduct and benefit directly or indirectly from it do not perceive it as corruption. Instead, they enjoy and to some extent, there is that sense of entitlement or the exchange of favours. The foregoing assertion immediately qualifies the subject as a conundrum, a conundrum worth debunking.

Contrary to popular belief, corruption in not unique to African leadership dynasty, even during colonisation there were conspicuous acts of corruption we are aware of.

I could name a few groups and individuals who embezzled exorbitant amounts of state money during the apartheid regime, such groups as the “Broederbond”, who had influence in shaping the policies of the National Party government, thus securing their interest.

The likes of C.F. Eloff (one of President Paul Kruger’s sons), a business man, clandestinely granted several government concessions, who was reported to have been made a millionaire several times over. Also, mining companies like De Beers and Anglo America benefited immensely from cheap labour and land that was precipitated mostly by the 1912 Land Act. However, we should not find solace in the fact that even white colonisers were just as corrupt.

Similarly, our post-independence government followed suit. South Africa has lost R700 billion to corruption since independence (1994). While annually, the country loses R30 billion, corruption perpetuated by government officials and the public.

For example, the “Travelgate scandal” in which Parliament and cabinet ministers were found to have misused their travel vouchers.

ANC LPs Nathi Mthemthwa, Lindiwe Sisulu, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Ruth Bengu, Julius Malema and Dali Mpofu all found to have misused their travel vouchers. One also observed corruption in the form of false qualifications, Parlor Jordan lying about holding a PhD, Carlos Niehaus, former ANC spokesperson, also claiming non-existing qualifications. One cannot forget the R620 million spent by Prasa on unsuitable locomotives.

Local government has also been engulfed by corruption in the form of maladministration, mismanagement of public funds and blatant abuse of state resources. Bribery cases are on the rise implicating the South African Police Services and the Metro Police and our Department of Home Affairs is no exception.

One cannot leave out the illegal awarding of tenders which is on a rise as well. And of course, the “Arms deal”, to which we were recently told there was nothing untoward about, around R140 millions of taxpayers’ money wasted on the Arms deal adjudication processes.

What is even more perturbing is that these incidents and allegations of corruption take place in the presence of institutions and units that are meant to combat or prevent corruption. A prevailing impression is that in Africa as a whole one must appear to be fighting corruption as opposed to actually fight corruption. Once you start fighting corruption you get excommunicated unceremoniously from your duties or disbanded.

We observed this disturbing pattern here with the dismantling of the Scorpions, Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission in Kenya, also in Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia, etc.

Lest we forget the repercussions of corruption in South Africa leading to unemployment, poor service delivery, nepotism, poverty, famine, our African brothers and sisters who die daily in the oceans while crossing overseas, running away from Africa.

As we near the local municipal elections, I plead that we make sagacious choices as to who we put in power. Let us veer away from the stupidity of electing hyenas to take care of goats, and when goats are eaten we wonder why. Let us not confirm one Greek philosopher’s statement when he said: “It is in a nature of men to hang small thieves and elect the great ones into public office.”

• Zipho Makhoba is an author, research consultant and a social justice advocate.

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