Ramaphosa reshuffle speaks of false dawns and Trojan horses

WHILE ANC members are no doubt rejoicing (at least one would expect them to), the broader South African public still concerned about the lasting effects of the Zupta-led state capture must be worried - very worried indeed.

What happened on Monday evening can be compared to a situation where hostages are handed over to a new set of handlers, mid-way through their ordeal, who seem friendlier, generous and more humane in the way they treat them.

Upon this happening, and considering the strict, inhumane conditions under which they had been held by their original captors, the unsuspecting among the hostages naively sigh with relief and prematurely begin to thank their gods for the apparent positive change in their fortunes, honestly believing that their prayers have finally been heard.

A new dawn seems like a sure thing.

This is what happened following the ANC’s elective conference in December 2017.

Immediately following their transfer to the new handlers, the hostages are automatically split into two groups. The first, still traumatised by the violent manner in which they had been captured and the inhumane treatment they were subjected to from the start, remains suspicious, asking a lot of questions and demanding to see real, irrevocable signs that their hostage conditions will irreversibly lead to freedom again.

Showered with premature praise

The second group, excited by the early signs of kindness shown by their new handlers as well as the beautiful speeches announcing a new beginning, does not waste time before showering their handlers with all sorts of praise.

But their praises are premature.

They are the first to thank their gods for the apparent positive change in their circumstances and quickly turn against their fellow hostages whose lingering suspicion, they fear, will endanger the lives of them all.

They accuse them of being ungrateful whingers whose attitude risks forcing the new handlers to harden their stance towards all hostages. The call for patience and for space to be given to the new handlers becomes a daily one, as the happy hostages believe that a new dawn has indeed arrived and that the handlers only have their interests at heart and will soon free them from bondage.

They also believe that the whingers should forever keep their silence.

The handlers, of course, didn’t appear from nowhere to be handed hostages by strangers. They’re all part of a vast network of structures which, driven by the same broad aims, simply take their turn doing what they must for the network.  

For them, the unity of the broad network and its longevity come way ahead of all else.

It’s time to think about what is good for South Africa

In the same way South Africans, including this writer, who were carried away by the beautiful speeches pronounced here at home and at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland have to temper their excitement and think again about what they had hoped to get out of the “new” leadership of the governing party.

Signs that there would be no room for people implicated in state capture and other forms of corruption in any new leadership of the country have clearly been dealt a deadly blow.

Appointing Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan as, respectively, Finance and Public Enterprises Ministers should help protect the National Treasury, the Public Investment Corporation and South Africa’s state-owned enterprises from further plunder if the two men are to remain consistent with the public stances they took in the past against corruption.

Added to this team, rumours that Mcebisi Jonas will soon replace the very problematic Tom Moyane at SARS should help grow the required levels of confidence that taxes collected will be protected from plunder and used to finance legitimate government programs.

There should be room for the cynics

But South Africans also want to see a clear message sent out that there is no room in the governing party and the country for individuals who played key roles as enablers of grand theft linked to state capture and other forms of corruption.

Rewarding several implicated individuals with new lucrative Cabinet positions - despite the possibility of several of them facing imminent questioning, arrest and prosecution by the country’s law enforcement agencies - sends an entirely wrong message to the broader South African society and the watching world.

The message being sent out is that arrogance and impunity are tolerated and that the interests of the governing party continue to be placed ahead of those of the country, irrespective of who leads the governing party.

Nothing has been learned from the decade of criminal leadership by a bunch of corrupt and corruptible individuals who, over and over again, could count on the solid support of their party to protect them from scrutiny and punishment.

State capture fatigue

South Africans are tired of state capture. Because of it, not only have hundreds of billions of rand been stolen from the public purse to enrich a well-orchestrated political criminal network, but the opportunity costs for the country have also been enormous.

Alleged cigarette smugglers and several dodgy figures in the underworld have been given a free pass, ostensibly because they partnered with and funded the lifestyles of thieving politicians. The tax money that could have been collected from such people would have gone a long way in helping deliver much-needed services to all South Africans, especially the poor.

Thanks to the many enablers of state capture whose tenure in government has just been given another boost, the money that could have been collected has been lost forever.

South Africans should not rest until all state capture enablers are dealt with according to the law of the land, irrespective of the positions they hold in government. That is the only way we can be sure to be on a route to lasting recovery.

Without proper justice, doors are being left wide open for others to try the same tricks on us in the future. We cannot afford that. 

The ANC cannot expect to be taken as a serious player in the 2019 general elections while it walks about as a Trojan horse for political criminals.

  • Solly Moeng is brand reputation management adviser and CEO of strategic corporate communications consultancy DonValley Reputation Managers. Views expressed are his own.

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