Solly Moeng: Can Batohi lift the fog hanging over SA?

Solly Moeng (SUPPLIED)
Solly Moeng (SUPPLIED)

Instead of lifting progressively ahead of the all-important 2019 general elections, which have got to be a watershed, the political fog hanging over South Africa remains obstinately in place as many South Africans struggle to determine which of the parties campaigning will be the least of the devils for them.

The longer the fog hangs and that the sands continue to shift, the longer many home-based and foreign fund managers will struggle to make long-term decisions to place their investing clients’ money in the country.

This fog is therefore not good for our morale, as citizens, and it is also not good for the economy we should be working together to grow.

Much promise was in the air when we finally saw the back of former president Jacob Zuma in early 2018, especially because he was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa instead of his ex-wife and the successor he had been rooting for, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Had the latter won the ANC leadership contest in December 2017, the feared economic nosedive would have been immediate, rather than the slow one we’re still experiencing, but which it may still be possible to arrest and stabilise after May.

Watch this space

President Ramaphosa has made good use of the honeymoon that we allowed him, prominently engaging citizens on many platforms across the country and promising to lift the fog and to bring much-needed healing to our collective pain.

He invited, or dared, us to "watch this space", during the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA), following a fairly detailed address on the steps his administration would take to strengthen the criminal justice system by allowing it the independence it needs to do what it must.

As he made these promises during the SONA, the new National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi, was sitting alongside other guests up in the gallery of the National Assembly, looking down at Ramaphosa while listening intently.

Going by her demeanor, she could almost sense that the eyes of South Africans and others from across the world watched every move she made, including her facial expression, as she sat there, inscrutable.

She was no doubt aware of the expectations people had on her and the office she had taken over.

Many of us hope she’s still aware of our expectations and the hope we have placed in her.

It will soon be two months since all those promises were made, and nothing significant has come out of the National Prosecutions Authority.

Time, space and money

Fin24 previously reported that according to the 2019 Budget document, the NPA would be given R3.1bn, which would increase to R3.6bn over the medium term, with no additional allocation for the Investigating Directorate intended to drive anti-corruption prosecutions.

South Africans agree, on the whole, that Batohi must be given the time she needs to gather a team she can trust, put the necessary investigative and prosecutorial structures in place, study the many criminal files that were allowed to gather dust under the politically compromised, watchful eye of her predecessor, and embark on a plan of real action.

But it is hard to find consensus on how much time she must, realistically, be given.

When she does begin to act, hopefully before the elections, she must also remember that the fog will not lift if she leaves the criminally compromised political big hitters free while she only starts with the small fellows, the runners and enablers.

We have already seen enough of that.

She must give us more, and remind everyone that there will be equality before the law - that the democratic institutions created after the end of apartheid, including the one she now heads, can make our country proud if headed and run by the right men and women.

South Africa is waiting for Batohi.

* 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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