The spirited attempts of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to defy the laws of political gravity give new meaning and resonance to the scientific term “terminal velocity” – the highest speed attainable by an object as it falls through a medium.
While political heavyweight Gigaba’s fall through the political medium seems to defy science, it has inadvertently put the spotlight on the ANC’s consequence management philosophy amid a highly charged sociopolitical environment.
Let me explain.
In his stints as minister of home affairs, public enterprises and finance, Gigaba wielded enormous executive power and influence.
He is arguably the most consequential member of former president Jacob Zuma’s inner Cabinet who unflinchingly enabled state capture.
Gigaba’s arrogance, epic misconduct and egregious abuse of power are insufferable. To describe him as a BEE askari of a special kind would be an understatement.
His litany of excesses include improperly ceding control of certain aspects of the home affairs department to Zuma’s kitchen cabinet, and helping perpetuate institutional perversion across key state-owned entities for the benefit of the Gupta family.
The Guptas, with the connivance of Gigaba, not only compromised the integrity of our border control and management system, but also damaged the esteem our passports enjoyed prior to his appointment at home affairs.
In 2009 the UK imposed visa requirements on South Africa amid fears that we were, inter alia, a honeypot for illegal immigrants, and the integrity of our national identification system was deteriorating.
The Air Force Base Waterkloof scandal and unrelated reports of the Guptas’ illicit currency outflows under diplomatic cover all but confirmed the parlous state of our border management and compromised diplomatic system.
Poor border management not only impedes effective customs excise revenue management, but it is an inherent threat to global security.
It is unsurprising, but no less an indictment on Gigaba’s stewardship of the home affairs department, that the latest ratings by global citizenship advisory group Henley & Partners, peg South Africa’s passport power ranking at an unflattering 52 in the world, down 17 places since 2008.
Perhaps nothing illustrates our fallen travel document status better than the fact that, despite member countries of the Brics association of emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) having committed themselves to dropping travel restrictions between one another, and China and South Africa having signed a memorandum of understanding to achieve just that, South Africans still require visas for travel to China or India.
With his political mentor, Zuma, effectively neutered, and the Guptas fugitives from justice, Gigaba is politically and legally exposed.
His continued arrogance, bare denials and obfuscation amid mounting evidence and findings of wrongdoing beggar belief.
Ironically, it could take an airport terminal for Gigaba to reach his political terminal velocity as his past catches up with him.
A leaked letter on an ANC letterhead, addressed to Fireblade Aviation, inexorably implicates the ANC in scandal.
The letter, ostensibly “granting” permission for Fireblade to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport, exposes the ANC’s inherent disposition to interfere in state affairs.
It appears that the Guptas, who developed a belated interest in Fireblade’s commercially strategic concession, may have leaned on Gigaba to reverse his earlier decision.
This could explain his somersaults before court.
Gigaba’s denouncements of the concession contradict ANC commitments made to Fireblade and suggest discord within the ANC on the matter.
Nevertheless, statements suggesting that Gigaba is a crusader against “white monopoly capital” and that the hand of said capital is responsible for his woes are misplaced and seem intended to stoke racial animus.
If anything, the colour of the hand that single-handedly stroked Gigaba’s member in the leaked X-rated video is as black as they come (no pun intended!).
It is the same exuberant hand that entangled Gigaba in a labyrinth of ethical misconduct and wrongdoing.
This includes signing the infamous letter overriding a home affairs director-general decision to not fast-track the Gupta family’s application for naturalisation.
Also, it was Gigaba’s hand-written approval of the Fireblade concession that contributed to his committing perjury.
Apropos, the Public Protector found that Gigaba contravened various prescripts governing members of Parliament and Cabinet.
He protests his innocence, but President Cyril Ramaphosa is enjoined by remedial action of the Public Protector to discipline his errant minister.
A narcissistic Gigaba points a finger at everyone but himself for the bed he made – a bed he must now lie on.
Gigaba, who openly espouses presidential ambitions, has made it clear that he will not step aside voluntarily.
If Ramaphosa, who seems to always walk on eggshells when it comes to dealing with Zuma apologists, ever needed political cover to fire Gigaba, the courts and the Public Protector have just handed him some.
It seems that Gigaba, who is without compunction, feels emboldened by the precedents set by other ANC leaders who brushed off calls for their resignation when confronted with similar situations.
Gigaba is profoundly aware that should he vacate office prematurely, his presidential ambitions risk been scuppered.
He must, manifestly, remain intransigent and cast himself as a victim of factional political machinations.
Hopefully he will soon realise the foolishness of embellishing his political power and importance.
Nevertheless, it takes a BEE askari of a special kind to wage an unabashed attack on our distressed body politic.
Shame, that timeless beacon of right and wrong has long parted ways with what is left of Gigaba’s terminally captured soul.
. Khaas is executive chairman of Corporate SA. Follow him on Twitter @tebogokhaas
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