Zuma avoids tackling corruption - Buthelezi

2012-02-14 22:36

Cape Town - Warning that corruption was on the verge of making South Africa dysfunctional, IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi told President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday that he was shying away from tackling it.

"Corruption is the bane of our country," he said during debate in the National Assembly on last week's state of the nation address.

Buthelezi described corruption as a fundamental threat to South Africa's constitutional democracy.

"Yet, sir, you shy away from this issue."

He said a measure of Zuma's leadership could be taken less by what the president had said than by what he had not said.

"How can we embrace hope when our leadership refuses to acknowledge the many problems confronting our country, or the causes that lie at their root? Year after year, the state of the nation address shifts, without ever addressing previous failures."

Buthelezi said it was an "unspoken fact" that corruption had resulted in the axing of two ministers, Sicelo Shiceka and Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.

"The national police commissioner, Mr Bheki Cele, is still suspended pending an investigation into corruption.

"The speaker of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, Miss Peggy Nkonyeni, and MEC Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu are facing corruption charges in court," he said.

Two of the nine provinces had "all but collapsed" and the administration of the state was "in shambles".

Fatal

"Limpopo has been rendered bankrupt through corrupt activities and five of its departments have been taken over by national government...

"In the Eastern Cape, the education system has completely collapsed due to maladministration and corruption, forcing national government to intervene."

In Gauteng, the provincial government had sought help from the National Treasury for its health department, which was on the verge of collapse.

The Free State had sought help after discovering financial mismanagement and non-compliance in supply chain processes in its police roads and transport department.

"How, Mr President, do we explain the contamination of public service and commercial interests? It is fatal and yet pursued relentlessly from the lowest to the highest levels of government.

"Too many, and I dare say the overwhelming majority, are trying to make money on account of holding public office, being in politics or exercising public power."

Last year, Special Investigating Unit head Willie Hofmeyr told MPs that 20% of South Africa's procurement budget - between R25bn and R30bn - was lost to corruption each year.

"According to Transparency International's 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, South Africa is perceived to be becoming more corrupt with each passing year."

This perception was rooted in reality.

"On a scale of 0 [being highly corrupt] to 10 [being very clean], we have fallen from a ranking of 5.1 in 2007, to 4.1 in 2011.

"The unspoken fact is that we are on the verge of joining the ranks of dysfunctional states, as the effects of corruption debilitate all spheres of life," Buthelezi said.

Crticism

The IFP leader, who turns 84 this year, also criticised Zuma for his support, last Thursday, of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu).

"Mr President, you praise the trade unions, and even Sadtu, as if they should be thanked for doing less than the full measure of their destructive capabilities.

"Praising the SA Democratic Teachers' Union for its diligent teachers was a step too far in placating the unions."

The ANC-aligned union continued to act like an organisation "hell-bent on destroying the future of our children", and should be rebuked, not praised, for its actions, he said, to cries of support from opposition benches.

"Instead of acting like responsible educators, some members of Sadtu have, on numerous occasions, proven themselves irresponsible, unprofessional and unfit to educate South Africa's learners."

Buthelezi also suggested that the ruling party was too close to the country's four major banks.

"Another major policy mistake is maintaining the four retail bank policy and tolerating the collusion and other restraints of trade openly practised by our banks."

A lack of "real competition" meant they were not forced to take risks they did not want to take, forcing all the "risky business" onto the Industrial Development Corporation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

"It would seem as if your government, Mr President, has a greater commitment to serving the banks than the people we represent."

No accountability

On the economy, Buthelezi said Zuma had not explained how two sectors that should be booming as a result of high international demand - agriculture and mining - were "in reverse due to government's many policy failures".

Another unspoken fact was that the latest Global Competitiveness Rankings of the World Economic Forum highlighted how corruption, wasteful expenditure and government red-tape was increasingly hindering business development, SMMEs and investment in South Africa.

Buthelezi said there was a "disconnect" between the government and the reality of everyday life in South Africa.

He told Zuma his address had lacked accountability.

"[It] lacked accountability on the crisis in health, the crisis of education and the crisis of corruption.

"What you have said looks good on paper, but what you have not said can prevent the fulfilment of the best-laid plans."

- SAPA

Read more on:    sadtu  |  anc  |  ifp  |  mike mabuyakhulu  |  sicelo shiceka  |  peggy nkonyeni  |  jacob zuma  |  gwen mahlangu-nkabinde  |  bheki cele  |  corruption  |  politics
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