Zuma in denial: about crime, and Nkandla as symbol of corruption

2013-05-22 13:47

While the press obsesses around Guptagate, let’s not forget Nkandla as a symbol of Presidential corruption. Nor that corruption, when perpetrated by leaders, is a crime against ordinary people whom those leaders are contracted to protect and serve.

Zuma could have secured his property for a fraction of the price. He could have got his guys to screw new-fangled Perspex strips across the windows. Added outside laser beams, given panic buttons to his wives and kids, maybe got a few dogs, and Bob’s your uncle, the job would’ve been done.

Instead he got the helipad, the underground bunkers, accommodation for security personnel, and got the entire compound wrapped in electric fencing. With thirty-one buildings to protect - including a tuckshop, gym, clinic and soccer field - the R206-million spend, working out at roughly R6.5 million per building, is overkill.

And it’s overkill if one considers comments Zuma made in the last week in March, around the time of the Pistorius shooting and the Anene Booysens rape, which both made international headlines. President Zuma decried, in Parliament, that South Africans were bringing disrepute to the land by complaining about crime. He warned against those who would ‘rubbish our country without realising it’.

To quote directly from a SAPA report published at the time:

Noting the recent outrage over incidents of violence, Zuma said that in expressing their disgust, people should not paint all South Africans as violent and brutal. “South Africa is not a violent country; it is certain people in our country who are violent. By and large, we are not; we are peace-loving people.”

Although Zuma conceded that violence against women and children was at unacceptable highs, he brought attention to the overall decreasing levels of general crime, assuring residents that police were dealing with ‘the symptoms which relate to criminal activity’.

So the R206-million upgrade is a contradiction in terms – if we are peace-loving, then why such a massive spend on home security?

Zuma has consistently failed to own up to South Africa's high crime rate: the approximately 50 murders, 100 rapes, 400 armed burglaries and 500 violent assaults recorded every day. Although stats do show a 3.1% decrease in murder, the murder rate is four-and-a-half times more than the global average of 6.9 murders per 100 000. Zuma loves our police service too, and has refused to recognise that there's a problem with police conduct even in the face of an unacceptable number of civilian deaths at the hands of police.

So, according to Zuma, crime is coming down, and we have a competent police service. And if there’s no problem with imminent invasion from bordering African nations or anyone else for that matter (government doesn't seem too perturbed by China having infiltrated our economy, 'India' our National Security) then the incredulity remains - how can the president be so oblivious to the hugely inflated cost?

Zuma insisted that if he wanted to improve his family homestead and footed the bill over and above the R100 000 allocated by The Department of Public Works for security improvements, he could recreate Fort Knox if he chose to do so. But the President needs to be accountable. He can’t do what he wants with the hard-earned tax rands us plebeians have sweated to earn.

Zuma made other comments too, in Parliament, in that same week in March. He said, ‘South Africans should not lose faith in (our own humanity) and in our collective ability to correct the wrongs we see in our country’. He encouraged residents and citizens, as a collective, to stand for what’s right.

He was talking about making a stand against crime, making a stand for all that is good in South Africa. And surely Zuma must agree that corruption is a crime which undermines our humanity? Ergo, we must fight embezzlement, fraud and nepotism.

The R206-million in question - siphoned from somewhere -could have alleviated the struggles of so many South Africans. R206-millon could have bought 3500 brick homes; it could have, in effect, built a town for 21 000 residents.

R206-million could have paid for school fees of 42 000 primary school children for a year. R206-million could have provided an upgrade of security at thirty-one police stations (instead of at thirty-one buildings at the homestead) so that private security firms would no longer have to protect our own police.

Either the President is oblivious to real life going on around him, or is he in fact secretly paranoid about his personal safety. Whichever it is, it’s time for Zuma to pull himself out from his comfortable bunker and face up to the scrutiny. We, the people, have the Right2Know.

As long as long as the R206-million security splurge on Zuma’s residence remains shrouded in mystery, thanks to the loophole of the National Key Points Act, his position as President, and his government, is severely undermined.

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