Max du Preez

How to stop SA from derailing

2017-06-13 08:33
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Pic: Theana Breugem, Netwerk24)

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Pic: Theana Breugem, Netwerk24)

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The Zuma-Gupta-Bell Pottinger plan is still in place: ignore the deluge of proof of serious corruption and state capture, blindly deny all the evidence and deflect the focus towards so-called white monopoly capital.

While all this is going on, most of us citizens of South Africa are jumping up and down in anger and powerlessness as we witness the looting of our national resources and the undermining of our democracy.

Or to use another metaphor: we stand horrified as we witness how the train that is South Africa is in the process of derailing at high speed and we can’t do a thing about it.

Because, you see, the institutions that were supposed to intervene and stop these crimes have been captured or compromised a long time ago by the Zuma cabal: the Hawks, SARS, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the asset forfeiture unit, the SAPS’s serious economic crimes unit, the special investigations unit and crime intelligence.

The national treasury, our last bastion of state excellence and accountability, now also seems to be captured if any of the allegations against Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba prove to be true – and he’s not trying hard to counter them.

Our only champions in this saga are investigative journalists, civil society activists and the rather impotent politicians of the opposition parties and the anti-Zuma camp in the ANC itself.

We simply don’t have the kind of political culture in this society to take to the streets in our millions and sustain it until the government buckles, as happened recently in South Korea and Brazil.

The Latin phrase prima facie means evidence that appear to be true. With the series of Gupta emails, reluctant confessions and several sworn statements we are way beyond prima facie evidence that Jacob Zuma, the Gupta family and their inner circle have compromised our sovereignty and stole billions from the state coffer.

We have, thanks to the leaked emails and other investigations by journalists, detailed evidence of the blatant theft of billions from Eskom, Prasa, Transnet and Denel.

The list of proven – I say proven – Gupta pawns and beneficiaries in government is long, but the most shocking is evidence that Gigaba is also on this list: ministers Mosebenzi Zwane, Des van Rooyen, Faith Muthambi, Fikile Mbalula and Nathi Mthethwa, possibly even Ayanda Dlodlo and Lynne Brown, deputy ministers Sifiso Buthelezi and Kebby Maphatsoe and premiers Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo.

Many board members of most of the big state-owned companies are directly implicated, especially Zuma buddy Ben Ngubane, who has served on several boards while some of these irregularities occurred. He’s now resigned from Eskom, but I suspect he’ll pop up elsewhere.

I think there are several smoking guns proving that the president’s son, Duduzane Zuma, has been acting as his father’s proxy while doing the Guptas’ dirty work for them.

South Africa cannot wait for a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. It could take years and we have no guarantee that it won’t be as much of a whitewash as the Seriti commission into the arms scandal proved to be.

So far investigations have focused on the Gupta family. Evidence will soon be revealed of other corrupt business people’s dirty dealings with Zuma, his family and associates.

We simply have to lance this massive boil before the end of the year.

It is not only important to prevent further theft and corruption, it is crucial that the ANC members who are going to vote at the December conference of the ANC realise fully what the consequence would be if they elected a Zuma candidate as new leader and future president of the country.

It is not even contested that the Guptas had influenced, if not determined, the appointment of several Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants, even top police officers. There is no doubt that they offered Mcebisi Jonas R600 million and the job of finance minister, and yet there are no consequences.

Several criminal charges have been laid against the Guptas and some of their pawns recently.

I have no confidence that there is going to be any serious investigations into any of these.

Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I don’t see the Hawks getting to the bottom of the wrongdoing by Zuma, some of his Cabinet colleagues, the Guptas or their pawns.

The new Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, is missing in action.

It’s been more than seven months since Thuli Madonsela issued her State of Capture Report with its serious allegations. The looting continued unabated.

Despite the evidence that they are financed by the Guptas, public figures such as Andile Mngxitama and Mzwanele Manyi steam forth as if nothing had happened – and they still figure regularly as opinion formers in the media. The same is true of the ANC Youth League’s Collen Maine.

Despite the evidence that the Gupta brothers have shown crass racist behaviour while playing the race card against white business, there is no real scandal or consequences.

Penny Sparrow must be bitter.

I realise the dangers in involving the courts too often in the affairs of state, but more often than not they are our last resort.

With what we have recently learned about Gigaba’s track record, shouldn’t the courts be asked to rule whether his was an irrational appointment?

Unless we can turn the ship around quickly, our economic recession will deepen, especially as a final downgrade to junk status now seems inevitable.

If this happens, instability, even large scale violence, waits on the horizon.

All the key role players who are upset about the state looting and corruption, including ANC leadership figures, the opposition parties, civil society activists, the faith communities and business, will have to work more strategically and with much more energy and urgency to stop the rot quickly.

We cannot allow South Africa to derail.

Zuma and Co can flee to Dubai, but the rest of us will pay the price for many years to come.

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