Zuma years enabled a ‘tsotsi style’ of management

Former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan at the state capture inquiry. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla
Former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan at the state capture inquiry. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan has given deeply disturbing testimony to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

Her sincere assessment of the wrongs of the specific individuals in high office in our democratic government, their abuse of power and the resultant corruption left many of us deeply concerned about the future of our country.

Are we witnessing the prophetic demise of our country, based on the analysis of Frantz Fanon?

Fanon, the esteemed Algerian psychiatrist, observed that it takes about 20 years for countries in Africa liberated from colonial regimes to fall apart from rampant mismanagement and corruption.

The wasteful, unauthorised and irregular expenditure and looting enabled in government, state-owned enterprises and other public institutions have been spoken about in hushed tones for the past 10 years.

Those who were brave enough to speak up were sidelined or otherwise permanently silenced.

These shenanigans have been enabled by corrupt cronies, strategically placed across institutions, public and private, who could be commanded on cue to unleash destruction on those who dared challenge corruption.

Hogan’s testimony outlines the commonality of the devious processes applied, which can be broken down into three steps: The racist card – this initial process is usually reserved for persons from racial minority groups, irrespective of their history, contribution to the struggle or such credentials.

This individual would be accused of being anti-transformation or an outright racist and immediately discredited and silenced.

If the first strike fails, the cronies in the SA Revenue Service, the police, municipalities or thugs may be used to intimidate and harass.

Work tools may be confiscated or tampered with, irregular deductions may be taken from a salary.

This step is designed to frustrate the individual and force the person to resign on his or her own.

Usually this step is designed to publicly humiliate the individual through covert displays of disrespect, disregard, disruption and distortion, and fake news.

The individual will therefore be disrespected, their contributions disregarded and they may be purposefully sidelined.

This disrupts activities or departments, enabling a chaotic environment in which the desired corruption can flourish.

Any information that comes out of such a department can therefore be distorted easily and manipulated to suit the objectives of the looters.

The ensuing chaos which has been created within the operational environment can then be presented as an ideal excuse to eliminate the individual through a staged disciplinary process.

These processes are made to drag on to bankrupt and destroy the individual psychologically.

It is not uncommon for case files to disappear or be tampered with, minutes to be doctored and recordings to be wiped clean. Hogan’s emails and documentation were destroyed.

At executive management level, devastation and disruption of institutions manifest in a more sophisticated manner.

Here, a board is convened that would appoint an individual as the chief executive, who would enable mismanagement and appoint people to further this objective at an operational level and, in return, such a CEO would reciprocate by creating opportunities to benefit board members and vice versa.

Even independent institutions of oversight, such as auditors, have been implicated in facilitation.

Corrupt institutions pay specific auditing firms to distort their findings, further enabling the looting.

The chaotic state in which many of our public institutions find themselves is testimony to these devious tactics.

The terrible economic and moral degeneration of our country speaks to the years of destruction caused by these sociopaths, greedy and parasitic individuals, who have destroyed and continue to destroy our hard-earned democracy.

The expanding tax burden on the ordinary citizen can be attributed directly to these destructive forces.

In a mafia network you buy key people from the police, judiciary, politicians and businesspeople to protect and advance your illegal business interests.

Threats, violence, blackmail and even assassinations are some of the common instruments used to ensure loyalty.

It takes brave men and women, who risk all, to stand up to expose and dismantle this network in the interests of a better society.

The Zuma years enabled a tsotsi management style that destroyed many state institutions to advance corruption.

But what can we do to rein in the rampant corruption?

Appointment of executives should be transparent processes based on merit and integrity.

Executives must be held accountable in their personal capacity and must foot their own legal bills when fighting accusations of corruption.

Boards that are perceived as comprising honourable men and women whose sole interests are advancing the interests of an organisation for the common good of society are largely a misnomer.

It would probably be best to do away with boards and strengthen the Auditor-General’s office to conduct frequent oversight checks on all public institutions. The removal of boards will save taxpayers millions a year.

The poor taxpayers are faced with double jeopardy; taxed to death to sponsor the looting and again to finance a vicious cycle of corruption with enormous bailouts, and tax and VAT increases.

Some individuals would arrogantly assert why worry, it is not your money, government will bail us out because they cannot afford such institutions to be seen to have failed.

Poor people who do not know where their next meal will come from, and will not have the pleasure of flying in a plane, are being asked to bail out an airline.

Rural and township dwellers who have not had the services promised to them are funding the irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure of their municipal leaders.

Education infrastructure in these areas cannot be compared with the facilities in urban areas, yet we expect the learners to compete equally at tertiary institutions.

. Howard is professor and deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Mpumalanga

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