Apartheid pillaging by a new name

2011-07-30 11:28

As the apartheid beast lay dying in the 1990s, ominous reports painting the extent of the wanton pillaging of state resources by those in government, including Bantustans and urban black councils and their cronies, started to emerge.

As would be expected, the biggest beneficiaries of the apartheid largesse were those aligned to the National Party, SA’s former ruling party.What seemed to have changed since then is the melanin of those gathered around the feeding trough.

It is not helpful that voices for an economic version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission continue to be muzzled by government.
Notwithstanding this, no individual has a licence to loot state resources, particularly not in a democratic order.

Recent media reports alleging state tender business malfeasance in Limpopo by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and those close to him only serve as a reminder of how very little has changed since the Broederbond days.

Malema’s acquisition of land allegedly under consideration for restitution can only be outdone by the likes of Afrikaner folk hero General Koos de la Rey, who connived with local magistrates to illegally amass tracts of land countrywide.But I don’t think the problem, if any, can be solved by silencing Malema.

Without implying any guilt or corruption on his part, even if Malema were to be isolated from politics, as long as the system that makes it possible for tenderpreneurship and cronyism to flourish still exists, any victory against individuals will only be hollow.

Our political system, based on proportional representation, provides an environment that is highly susceptible to abuse of power by some of the political elite.

It can easily be manipulated to deny suitably qualified entrepreneurs – who otherwise do not have political connections – access to government business opportunities.

It was not an accident that we continue to experience service delivery problems such as incomplete toilets in Free State and Cape Town; bridges that wash away in Limpopo and Jabulani Hospital, which is still to be completed in spite of double-payment by taxpayers.

The system characterised by the blurring of lines between party and state perpetuates corrupt behaviour by a few powerful individuals within the ruling party.

‘Donorpreneurship’, of the kind Malema claims, in which he has no influence on Limpopo tenders and makes do on friendly donations, is scary. It highlights the inherent propensity of donor deal-making made possible only by one’s proximity to power.

But if AfriForum is indeed motivated by altruism and not political opportunism against Malema, and without defending the corrupt practices by some politically connected blacks, then surely the next people who should shake in their pants must include whites who corruptly benefited from apartheid and all the other trusts benefiting powerful politicians?

Then again, don’t hold your breath if you are an upright entrepreneur in the new SA and are competing with donorpreneurs!

» Khaas is an entrepreneur and president of the SA SMME Forum, an independent public benefit organisation that advances the interests of small business

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