The #AmINext protests of the past two weeks were a game-changer for South Africa, writes Adriaan Basson.
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President Jacob Zuma (AFP)
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I have an offer to make to Parliament: if you really don’t have money to properly investigate state capture, I will help get it for you through crowdfunding.
Would R2 million be enough? R3 million?
I will go one step further and persuade investigative journalists and other researchers working on the Guptas and their role in the state and with state-owned companies to give you a full briefing on their research and accompanying documents.
Then your homework would be done for you.
What else do you need to do this most urgent and most important job?
The ANC and President Jacob Zuma say a judicial commission of inquiry into the previous Public Protector’s State of Capture Report will be appointed.
But it is getting clear that there is a strong likelihood that this would probably follow the path of the Seriti Commission into the arms scandal: it could take years, especially if the mandate is formulated wider than just the PP’s report, and end up in a whitewash.
Parliament has proved with its action on the SABC’s dramatic failures that hearings by the portfolio committees are the fastest and most efficient way to act against abuse, maladministration and corruption in the state and state-owned enterprises.
It didn’t take too long for that committee to deal with Hlaudi and the errant board, appoint a new board and put the SABC back on the road to professionalism.
It is extremely urgent that the same should now be done with especially Eskom, but also SAA, Prasa, Transnet, Denel and others.
The theft and wasting of so many billions of taxpayer rands at these institutions are devastating to our efforts to fight poverty and unemployment.
But as importantly, this corruption, abuse of power and lack of fiscal discipline can lead directly to a final and damning credit downgrade that could dump us in a long-term recession.
Investigative journalists and researchers sifting through the leaked Gupta emails have convincingly shown that something is fundamentally wrong in our society – so wrong that it undermines our economy and our entire political ethos.
But now we’re told that Parliament doesn’t have enough funds to conduct proper hearings or even afford the services of an evidence leader.
We’re looking for about R80 billion to pay back into the state coffers, and Parliament can’t afford a few million rand to do it?
Four political leaders can make a difference in this regard, and all four love talking about how important it is to rid our society of state capture and corruption: deputy president and head of government business in Parliament Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and ANC MP and chair of parliamentary committees and oversight Cedric Frolick.
If these four are really serious about state capture and corruption at state-owned companies, they will make it happen. Now, not in 2018.
There is a special onus on Ramaphosa and Mantashe, because they helped Zuma get re-elected president at Mangaung in 2012.
It was after that and the election of 2014 that state capture, abuse of power and corruption had increased tenfold.
There is not a lot we can learn from the American political system, but we should look at the way congress and the house of representatives conduct special hearings and investigations.
Members have teams of researchers and specialists who prepare them for the hearings. Anybody can be subpoenaed and the questioning is often very robust.
Parliament, the place where we citizens send our elected representatives, is the right place where those who play with our institutions and our money should be dealt with. Publicly.
After that, those who deserve it should be hauled before courts of law, a much slower process.
It is crucial that we deal with this cancer now, in 2017, and not allow it to drag on until 2019, when we as voters can deal with it.
Opposition parties cooperated very well recently and had much impact.
Perhaps they should team up again and jointly appoint a team of investigators and specialists to make sure that when public officials appear before them, with or without an evidence leader, they won’t get away with murder.
I’m sure most South African taxpayers would be happy to make a contribution to help this process work efficiently.
Let me know, members of Parliament, perhaps I can help.
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