Politicians not sufficiently reprimanded - Hartley

2014-09-18 20:48
(Dan Calderwood, News24)

(Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Cape Town - South Africa has seen a number of corruption scandals since 1994 because politicians are not sufficiently reprimanded at the time, former Sunday Times editor and author Ray Hartley said on Thursday.

"I think South Africans have the idea that they can do things that don't have consequences, that don't have long-term consequences," he told the Cape Town Press Club.

It struck him that decisions that were made after apartheid, often on the spur of the moment, continued to affect the country today.

The "tipping point" was when, in 1996, former president Nelson Mandela failed to discipline then health minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for commissioning an Aids education play - Sarafina 2 - for R14m without following tender procedures.

He said she ran to the presidency to complain after she was hauled over the coals by Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, then a young MP.

"And right then and there, I think Nelson Mandela made a decision which has had huge ramifications over the last 20 years, which was to protect the minister, to pull the teeth from the parliamentary process," said Hartley.

He said officials were disciplined as a result, Dlamini-Zuma became foreign affairs minister, and Tshabalala-Msimang was moved from Parliament into the executive.

"The ANC's politicians could all see the writing very clearly - you can get away with this if you have the connections. And from there, we had a series of corruption scandals which broke one after the other over the last 20 years."

Hartley said a totally different bar would have been set if Dlamini-Zuma had been fired as a message to say that government did not accept that kind of behaviour.

As another example, he recalled the welcome that awaited anti-apartheid activist and politician Allan Boesak after he was charged with fraud in the late 1990s.

"When he came back into country, the justice minister was sent by Mandela to the airport to meet him. They carried him on their shoulders," he said.

Hartley believed this was also a spur-of-the-moment decision.

"There wasn't a plan to drag South Africa into the mire or to make us into a country where a culture of corruption is acceptable. I don't think that was the intention or the idea but that's how events unfolded."

Hartley said while the Mandela era had failings, these were outweighed by the statesman's incredible understanding of the country's "mojo" and bringing people together.

Hartley has written a book, entitled Ragged Glory, which details the successes and failures of the ANC's rule after 1994.

Read more on:    ray hartley  |  cape town  |  corruption  |  politics  |  media

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