SA at crossroads as state capture undermines democracy - Jonas

Axed deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
Axed deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Pretoria – Axed Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas on Friday said that state capture is a national issue all South Africans need to take a stand against.

South Africa is at a crossroads which should not be taken lightly, said Jonas.

He was speaking at a briefing at Treasury following his axing as part of a Cabinet reshuffle in the early hours of Friday morning. Jonas and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will be replaced by Sfiso Buthelezi and Malusi Gigaba, respectively.

Jonas spoke about state capture and how it is up to South Africans to take a stand against it.

“When things look ugly and bad, institutions are weakened and development suffers almost permanently in some countries.” He added that certain events and patterns over the years indicate that “particular interests” are being protected.

The State of Capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela consolidates a picture of state institutions which are increasingly becoming vulnerable, he added.

“Institutions are increasingly becoming centres for attack and looting. You don’t need to be a genius to see a trend in the country.” He said that democracy is being undermined as a result.

“We have a national challenge. It’s not about Pravin Gordan, it’s not about Jonas. This is clearly something as a country we need to be worried about.” Gordhan said it is up to communities to rise up. “Fragmented voices do not have the weight it requires. Masses make history, not individuals.”

Former general secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi delivered an address at the briefing, in his new capacity as convenor of the steering committee of the South African Federation of Trade Unions.

He expressed “disgust” at the Cabinet reshuffle, saying that it is a “coup against the people of South Africa”.

“It was a long journey of total capture of every institution of our democracy,” he said. Vavi encouraged staff at Treasury to “hold on” and to report “shenanigans” that will be implemented through the takeover.

'Darkest hour' in SA's history

“This is the darkest hour in the history of South Africa. We promise, tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”

He added: “Zuma and his thugs will not have the last say. The people of this country will have the last say.”

Save SA leader and businessman Sipho Pityana said South Africans must make a decision to stand up and fight. “This is not a fight for Treasury, this is a fight for the sovereignty of our nation.”

Pityana took aim at Gigaba, who is to be sworn in as finance minister later. He referenced the State of Capture report which implicated Transnet during Gigaba’s tenure as minister of public enterprises.

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