Mpumelelo Mkhabela

3 attempts to push SA from state capture to total collapse

2017-11-10 10:35
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

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Attempts are being made to push for a transition from state capture to state collapse. Independent state institutions, the bulwarks that stand in between this transition, are being discredited.

The motto of the destructive forces, who may or may not be working in collaboration, seem to be: destroy that which cannot be captured.

The first attempt was the foolish recommendations of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

If Mkhwebane wanted to know the implications of her recommendation that the central bank should abandon its role as a protector of the value of the Rand, our currency, she should have read a bit about Zimbabwe. That country is a good example of what happens when the central bank's independence is usurped by power-hungry politicians like Robert Mugabe who impose on it the kind of mandate Mkhwebane wants for our central bank in the name of the poor.

At the height of Zimbabwe's economic crisis, ahead of the 2005 elections, Mugabe gave an interview to the SABC's Phil Molefe in which he criticised technocrats in the country's finance ministry and central bank. He complained that the country's economic problems arose as a result of officials who stuck to "bookish norms".

Mugabe later destroyed the "bookish norms". What followed was a collapse of the Zimbabwean Dollar after the government instructed the central bank to do what Mkhwebane wants done in South Africa. The ultimate consequence of the destruction of the "bookish norms" is that Zimbabwe has no currency to speak of today.

The second attempt to collapse the state was revealed by Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.

When he released the latest national and provincial audit results a few weeks ago, Makwetu said something that should have outraged the whole country. But it would appear we have been choked to numbness by the rot in state affairs. He revealed that state officials were putting pressure on his audit teams to change the outcomes of audit reports.

This revelation should have been treated as a potential constitutional crisis.

Like the Office of the Public Protector, which Mkhwebane is stripping of the necessary respectability and authority, the Auditor-General is a Chapter 9 institution. Section 181 of Chapter 9 of the Constitution lists "governing principles" of the independent state institutions established to protect democracy. One of the principles (sub-section 4) reads: "No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of these institutions."  

Makwetu's revelations suggest that state officials have violated this principle. This requires an investigation to protect the integrity of the Auditor-General's reports. We shouldn't wait until the thugs who are putting pressure on his staff succeed before we act.

The third attempt to push the transition from capture to collapse was revealed by Suzanne Daniels, suspended head of legal compliance at Eskom. She told a parliamentary inquiry that is probing state capture that Ajay Gupta had told acquaintances at a private meeting in March that he would speak to someone at the office of the North Gauteng High Court Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba to postpone the Brian Molefe R30m pension case to next year.

Opposition parties have gone to court to have Molefe's pension pay declared unlawful and set aside. The matter is expected to be heard on November 29.

Daniels's testimony is worrying because the judiciary is the ultimate protector of abuse of state power. Had the judiciary been captured, we would have no constitutional democracy to speak of.

Her testimony suggests three possibilities. First, that the Guptas have been thinking about the judiciary as a hindrance, if not a threat, to their capture strategy. Second, they might have begun to make plans about infiltrating it. Third, they have decided to begin to brag about the far-reaching extent of their influence to the point that they discredit an institution they have no control over.

All these possibilities serve only to sully the image of the judiciary and thus undermine the confidence that people have in our courts. Whatever their strategy, one thing is certain: they want to destroy South Africa. Once they are finished they'll relocate to their home country of India or to Dubai. If we don't protect the institutions that are meant to protect our democracy, we are on the road to ruin.

A huge chunk of the state has already been captured. The Guptas have been influencing Cabinet appointments for some time. From the days when Fikile Mbalula wept at the ANC's National Executive Committee meeting, after he learned from the Guptas that he would be appointed sports minister, they have been in control.

A huge chunk of Parliament has been captured through the majority members of the NEC who dictate how MPs should conduct their business. A few ANC MPs working with opposition MPs are trying to inject a semblance of accountability by insisting on the Eskom inquiry.

Though commendable, it is woefully inadequate given the grand-scale capture project that is now mutating into state collapse. A whole new liberation struggle is required to free South Africa from the former freedom fighters who sold it.

- Mkhabela is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) at the University of Pretoria. 

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