An ex­am­ple to fol­low

Business Day - - OPINION -

Among the star­tling rev­e­la­tions made be­fore the Zondo com­mis­sion of in­quiry, [was that] former fi­nance min­is­ter Nhlanhla Nene met the Gupta fam­ily at their res­i­dence at least on 11 oc­ca­sions be­tween 2009 and 2014, when he was deputy min­is­ter of fi­nance. It is not clear what hap­pened at these meet­ings and any con­se­quent de­ci­sions taken by Nene. But he was pen­i­tent and apolo­getic and asked Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to re­lieve him of his du­ties.

This is a sin­gu­lar and ex­em­plary man­i­fes­ta­tion of po­lit­i­cal ac­count­abil­ity at the high­est level. Far too fre­quently — as in the SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency de­ba­cle and the Life Esidi­meni tragedy — politi­cians and se­nior pub­lic ser­vants have shame­fully de­nied their ac­count­abil­ity in cir­cum­stances where their eth­i­cal con­duct was highly ques­tion­able.

Ramaphosa rose to the oc­ca­sion and ac­cepted Nene’s res­ig­na­tion, act­ing in the best in­ter­ests of SA. But home af­fairs min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba, min­is­ter in the pres­i­dency re­spon­si­ble for women Batha­bile Dlamini and min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions Nomvula Mokonyane are also im­pli­cated in the Gupta de­ba­cle or other un­eth­i­cal con­duct, cre­at­ing a quandary for Ramaphosa.

The pres­i­dent is con­strained to take re­alpoli­tik into ac­count, in­volv­ing his prob­lem­atic po­si­tion in the ANC with its two fac­tions, one of which is still ap­par­ently un­favourably dis­posed to him. Only af­ter the 2019 elec­tions — should he ob­tain an un­equiv­o­cal man­date from the elec­torate, which is not cer­tain — will he be bet­ter able to make a clean sweep.

Ramaphosa’s ap­point­ment of former Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor Tito Mboweni as new min­is­ter of fi­nance au­gurs well for the fu­ture.

GE Devenish Dur­ban

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